Once you have a child, you’ll find there’s lots of form filling to obtain all the documentation you need, such as a birth certificate, social security number and if you travel, a passport. Here we go through the steps you will need to take in order to register the birth of your child in the US.

What is Birth Registration?

It is an official record of the birth of your child which becomes part of the official registration system and means that your child is acknowledged in law.

What is a Birth Certificate?

birth certificate


A birth certificate is an official document which shows the child’s date of birth. Depending upon where you were born there might be more information on the birth certificate, but they usually contain the nationality and name of the child and the name and address of the parents. Failure to register your child is said to be a violation of that child’s human rights. If a child is born in the United States it is normally an American citizen.

How do I Apply for One?

When your child is born the hospital will give you a form to fill in and hand back while you are there. Usually the hospital will then fill out any other forms necessary and send the documentation to your state administrative branch. It usually takes around a month and then you should receive your certificate through the post. Sometimes the hospital gives you the forms you need and you send them off yourself, this also applies if you haven’t thought of a baby’s name whilst you are in hospital. The forms are normally sent to your county health department.

Why Do I Need to Keep it?

You will need to keep your child’s birth certificate safe because you will need to present it for a number of things whilst your child is small and once he or she has grown up. For example, you will it to:

  • Obtain a social security number
  • Enrol in school
  • Obtain a passport
  • Apply for a driver’s license
  • Obtain a work permit

If you  lose your certificate, or your need an official copy you can contact your county health department up to three years after the birth. After that you will have to get in touch with the vital records office in your state and you will be asked for a small fee.
Another important document to obtain whilst your child is a new born is a Social Security Number. This is important because you will need to have a record of it if you want to:

  • Obtain benefits for your child
  • Obtain health cover
  • Open a bank or savings account
  • Demonstrate that the child is dependent on your income

This is something else you may be able to do in hospital. All you need to do is provide you and  your partner’s own social security numbers and the hospital will send off the forms. You’ll be then sent the number through the post.
If the hospital doesn’t provide this service, you can go to your local Social Security Administration Office. Here you will be asked to fill out the appropriate forms, show the baby’s birth certificate or provide proof of your child’s name, age and nationality and also proof of your identity. There is no fee to pay and the number will be sent to you in the post. If you ever lose the number, you can get a free replacement card at your local social security office.
Try and get your documentation filled in as soon as possible after the birth of your baby, so that you can easily apply for benefits or other matters quickly.