What is the cheapest and quickest way to get a copy of my birth certificate?
October 31, 2005 7:50 PM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest and quickest way to get a copy of my birth certificate?

I recently sent out my birth certificate with my passport application. Stupid me, I didn't make a copy of it for the other application that I need to passport for (job overseas). The application is due Nov 31, but my original birth certificate and new passport won't be here for at least five weeks.

I'm going to check with my current job to see if they have a copy on file (I needed to give one for security clearances). Barring my job having one, what is the quickest and most reliable way to get a copy. Price isn't a problem, but it does work into the equation somewhere. Obviously Google ads brings up a handful of choices, but many of them seem less than reliable.
posted by gaelenh to Grab Bag (16 answers total)
posted by bondcliff at 7:54 PM on October 31, 2005

What state were you born in? Contacting the hospital or county records office is usually the fastest solution.
posted by gleuschk at 7:54 PM on October 31, 2005

Where were you born? Each state has its own record-keeping system and ordering process. I was born in Illinois, so I can get mine through the Illinois department of public health, who charges $8.50 and will overnight the certificate for an additional $14.50. Google "[state] birth certificate" and you should get decent results.
posted by rkent at 7:55 PM on October 31, 2005

It will vary by state, but you can probably get a new birth certificate fairly quickly from the department of public records of the county you were born in. I got a new, officially stamped birth certificate with turnaround of less than a week. I think the cost was about $12.

I'd start by looking at the website for the state you were born in, which should tell you the state's policy and direct you to the county record-keepers.
posted by stopgap at 7:56 PM on October 31, 2005

In Missouri, I walked into the St. Louis County Health Department, told them where I was born (another county in the state), provided ID and walked out with a certified copy of my birth certificate in about ten minutes. I think the fee was $10.
posted by bradlands at 8:06 PM on October 31, 2005

So far so good. The New York State Department of Health seems to cost around the same (well, within $15) as other online sites. Do hospitals typically hold these records? I know the hospital where it should be, but don't know who to talk with to ask for it.
posted by gaelenh at 8:09 PM on October 31, 2005

I second bondcliff's suggestion of vitalcheck. I used them recently because I needed a copy of my birth cert. to go to Canada (my passport expired). It cost $24 for the certificate and $19 for rush shipping. I got the certificate 2 days later (they guarantee you'll get it within 5 days). It's about $5 if you want it delivered via regular mail within 7 days.
posted by necessitas at 9:26 PM on October 31, 2005

Do hospitals typically hold these records?

No, the state holds birth records.
posted by necessitas at 9:28 PM on October 31, 2005

If you know which hospital, then odds are that the clerk's office for that county has the record.
posted by sbutler at 9:48 PM on October 31, 2005

FWIW, photocopying a Pensylvania birth certificate is illegal. Don't know about other states.
posted by mischief at 10:17 PM on October 31, 2005

You can get a certified copy from the county clerk or assesor/recorder's office for the city or county where you were born. It generally runs to about $15 per certified copy, and you can pay extra for overnight mailing; or you can go in person and get it over the counter.

Use google to find the office of the county clerk or recorder where you were born, and call them.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 10:18 PM on October 31, 2005

The application is due Nov 31, but my original birth certificate and new passport won't be here for at least five weeks.

Have you been told that? If you're going by the "it takes 6-8 weeks to process an application" you might be surprised. It took mine nine days -- and I didn't ask for, or pay for, any special service, and sent mine in the mail.

Of course, if you need it tommorow, not two weeks from now, it gets harder. The absolute fastest way is in person at the county clerks office that has your birth record. This takes about an hour. Easy if you are there. Sucks if you're across the country.

5MeoCMP's got it right. Call your county clerk. In the end, they're the guys who will either copy the cert, or approve a copy. Some states, like Missouri, you can visit any county clerk (or, for St. Louis, the Clerk of Records of the Independent City of St. Loius) to get a cert from any county, but that varies state-to-state.
posted by eriko at 5:46 AM on November 1, 2005

I've used Vitalchek under pretty similar circumstances a couple of times. Both times I had my cert within 3 days when I chose expedited but not overnight shipping. Be warned, however, that that option requires a signature, so do not be me and send it to your house when you work at a job all day. I finally had to drive out to the FedEx distribution center to get it.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:04 AM on November 1, 2005

30 days hath September, April, June and November.

If they say they want something on November 31, don't work for them. ;)
posted by Merdryn at 8:16 AM on November 1, 2005

Piggybacking this good question:

Can I do this from another country?

I lost my driver's license while living here (s. korea) and when I returned to U$A last month & tried to get another copy, it had since expired. I had one ID - my passport. I needed two, but my ss card was lost with my license (in a wallet, duh).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:39 AM on November 1, 2005

My work ended up having a copy on hand, but thanks for all the good advice. New York uses VitalCheck as the primary provided of birth certificates and calling one of the many public service offices probably would have pushed me towards that direction. Getting copies while in the state of birth looks like the cheapest and easiest route because most courts accept walkins.

To Joseph: I did come across a couple different laws for getting copies while abroad. It depends on the states law, but internet searching for your county/state + "county clerk" (or whatever appropriate office) will bring up the laws for your state. I think Vitalcheck also has a state by state list of laws too. It might be easier to use someone stateside as a middleman to expediate the process.
posted by gaelenh at 1:22 PM on November 1, 2005

« Older AirPort Extreme Base Station Losing Connection   |   What are the odds of getting shot if held up at... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.