How to get a copy of your birth certificate

Generally, the physician who attends a birth files a birth certificate with the state department of public health, the state department of vital statistics (usually a branch of the health department) or, in a few states, with the county clerk. In some large cities, the city itself keeps birth certificates in its own records department.

To get a copy of your birth certificate, write to the appropriate office in the capital of the state or in the city where you were born. The office may be listed in the phone book under the health department or vital statistics department. It may even be listed under “Birth Certificates” in a quick-reference list of state or local government offices. If all else fails, contact the municipal office or county clerk in the place where you were born.

Phone or write to find out the fee required, then mail your request along with a check or money order for the fee. If you live in the city where the records are kept, you can probably apply in person. Death certificates can be obtained in the same manner.