How to Replace (and Store) Crucial Documents
Can’t find your birth certificate? Need to replace your passport? Here’s how.
How to Get a Copy of Your Birth CertificateWhy you need it: To enroll in schools or the military; to obtain a passport; to get a driver’s license or a marriage license if you don’t have a passport; to apply for government and private benefits (such as insurance and retirement benefits). You also need your child’s birth certificate as proof of age to sign him or her up for elementary school or Little League.
Where to get a new one: Don’t call the hospital where the birth took place. Instead, “start with the vital statistics office in the birth state,” says Sandra Smith of the National Center for Health Statistics. Go to cdc.gov, a website run by the NCHS, to get the phone number and address of your state’s office. Or check the government pages of the phone book.
What you need to get it: As many vital statistics―name, gender, parents’ names, place of birth, and birth date―as possible. Some states also require a photo ID. Replacement fees range from $5 to $30.
How long it takes: In-person requests could yield the certificate within minutes. By mail you can expect to wait about four weeks, or two weeks if you pay an additional fee for expedited service. Some states offer overnight service, too. There may be longer waits in late summer, when parents are requesting birth certificates for children starting school.
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