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How do I Replace a Lost Birth Certificate?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 16, 2024
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The way you will replace a lost birth certificate will generally depend on where you were born and where you currently live. Most countries have government agencies established to handle vital records such as birth certificates, but the procedures to obtain a copy will depend on that agency’s regulations. Usually, these agencies allow people to order copies through the mail or in person. Plenty of third-party companies exist to provide replacement birth certificates, but it’s important to thoroughly research these companies, as they usually have no government affiliation. Regardless of which agency or company you choose, the process to replace a lost birth certificate is often as simple as completing an application, providing the required documentation, and paying a fee.

Probably the safest way to replace a lost birth certificate is to do so through the local or regional government agency that handles such vital records. This is because dealing with vital records, such as an official birth certificate, is this agency’s sole purpose with the government. In other words, the agency’s only job is to provide you with a service. You will have to pay a fee, but the agency does not exist to make money.

Usually, you can replace a lost birth certificate with your government’s vital records department in person or through the mail. You’ll need to complete a request form, provide certain identification documents, and pay a fee. The agency’s website will provide the exact requirements as well as a mailing address or physical location to visit. Some countries may have only one vital records department per region, while others may provide several locations for convenience. For example, the United States has one vital records department per state, but some residents can obtain replacement birth certificates through their county clerk’s office.

There are third-party companies that claim to help people replace lost or damaged birth certificates. These companies usually require the same kinds of identification documents and charge similar replacement fees as those required by government agencies. Keep in mind, though, these third-party companies are generally for-profit companies that are not officially affiliated with or endorsed by the government. Also, these companies are not always able to provide a notarized or official copy of a birth certificate. If the replacement you receive is merely a copy, it might be useless for most transactions that require an official birth certificate.

Still, some third-party companies are legit and safe to use. If you want to replace a lost birth certificate with one of these companies, be sure to look for past customer reviews. Check the company’s website for any disclaimers, terms of service, and privacy policies. Before ordering the birth certificate, ask a representative if the copy you will receive will be an official birth certificate, notarized or otherwise rendered legal, or just a copy. If you must pay through the company’s website, make sure the website uses a secure server.

Note that the steps to replace a lost birth certificate will most likely differ if you are currently located outside the region or country of your birth. In this situation, it is best to avoid third-party companies and deal only with the government agency that handles vital records. You can visit the official website or call the agency directly to obtain a list of the exact documents you’ll need to provide for a replacement birth certificate. The agency might require additional kinds of documents, and a higher replacement and processing fee, because you are no longer in the area. Also, there might be a longer waiting period than there would be if you were still in the region or country.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Pippinwhite — On Jan 27, 2014

Since the advent of digital life, replacing birth certificates has become much easier in some states, at least. I applied for a passport and could not locate my birth certificate anywhere.

I went to my county health department (since I was born in the county where I currently live) and they were able to print out a certified copy for me and I was out the door in about 10 minutes.

I'd say call the health department in your county first, to get instructions on how to replace a birth certificate. I did the same thing for my husband, who was born in another state. I just called the health department, filled out a form online, and in a week or so, had a copy of the certificate. It's a much less involved process than it used to be.

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