Frequently Asked Questions


This section will provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions relative to birth certificates.




Where can I obtain a copy of a birth certificate if the birth occurred before 1906?

Where can I obtain a copy of a birth certificate if the birth occurred in another state?

Do foreign governments accept a birth certificate issued by the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records (including information regarding Apostille or Certification)?

How do I know if my birth certificate is acceptable for travel out of the country or for proof of age or citizenship?

Is a raised seal required to make a birth certificate official?

Is the fee for a birth certificate waived for military personnel?

Can I obtain the time of birth?

How do I check the status of a request I submitted by mail for a birth certificate?

How long after a birth occurs is it filed with the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records?

What should I do if I have received a No Record Certification?

What will be required to file a Delayed Birth Certificate?

Can we receive a Pennsylvania birth certificate for a child we adopted from a foreign country?

Can we register the birth of our child that was born in another country?




Where can I obtain a copy of a birth certificate if the birth occurred before 1906?

The Division of Vital Records began collecting records in 1906; therefore, it will be necessary for you to contact the county courthouse where the event occurred.

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Where can I obtain a copy of a birth certificate if the birth occurred in another state?

Birth certificates from other states may be obtained from the state where the event occurred.

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Do foreign governments accept a birth certificate issued by the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records (including information regarding Apostille or Certification)?

Many foreign governments require that a certified copy of a birth certificate also include an Apostille or Certification for various matters such as foreign adoptions, international business transactions, marriage, and dual citizenship. This Apostille or Certification is issued by the Bureau of Commissions, Elections & Legislation of the Department of State. We suggest you review the instructions on obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate.

Each country has its own requirements as to what information must be listed on a certified copy of a birth certificate that is further authenticated by an Apostille or Certification. Therefore, it is imperative that the customer indicates on the application form that the intended use of the birth certificate is for an Apostille or Certification and specify the country requiring this documentation to ensure the appropriate certified copy is issued.

You should also visit the
Bureau of Commissions, Elections & Legislation’s website which provides information regarding an Apostille or Certification.

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How do I know if my birth certificate is acceptable for travel out of the country or for proof of age or citizenship?

The Certification of Birth form that the Division of Vital Records has utilized since 1975 is the official document accepted by governmental agencies as valid proof of birth. This document is a yellow-centered, blue-bordered document containing an embossed seal in the lower right corner. Documents such as hospital records or birth registration notices are usually not acceptable and could cause delays. If you wish to apply for a certified copy of a birth record, we suggest you review the instructions on obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate.

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Is a raised seal required to make a birth certificate official?

Yes. The Certification of Birth form that the Division of Vital Records has utilized since 1975 contains an embossed (raised) seal in the lower right corner.

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Is the fee for a birth certificate waived for military personnel?

Yes. This fee may be waived for individuals who served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces and their dependents. We suggest you review the instructions on obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate.

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Can I obtain the time of birth?

Yes. However, this information may only be released on a certified copy of a birth record. When completing the application form, it will be necessary to check mark "Other" in the Intended Use of Certified Copy section of the form and notate the time of birth is being requested. We suggest you review the instructions on obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate.  Please note the online ordering service is not available to request a certified copy with the time of birth.

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How do I check the status of a request I submitted by mail for a birth certificate?

If you have not received the certificate within the published processing time, you may call 1-877-PA-HEALTH OR (724) 656-3100 for assistance. If possible, please have your cancelled check information available.

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How long after a birth occurs is it filed with the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records?

Most births are filed electronically; therefore, the birth certificate is usually available for issuance by the Division of Vital Records within one or two days after transmission by the hospital. A complimentary certified copy is provided to the parent(s) of newborns, free of charge, shortly after the record is filed. However, if you have not received the free certified copy within three months from the date of your child's birth, please call (724) 656-3100.

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What should I do if I have received a No Record Certification?

We suggest you present the No Record Certification with other documentation supporting your birth facts to the agency requesting proof of your birth. If you wish, however, you may file a Delayed Birth Certificate with the Division of Vital Records. To proceed, it will be necessary for you to return the No Record Certification you received to the Division of Vital Records and request the forms and instructions to file a Delayed Birth Certificate. You may call (724) 656-3100 if you require further information.

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What will be required to file a Delayed Birth Certificate?

It will be necessary for you to submit two documents. Each document must be at least five years of age and include the exact name at birth, date of birth, and place of birth. This information must be in agreement with the information provided on the Delayed Birth Certificate form.

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Can we receive a Pennsylvania birth certificate for a child we adopted from a foreign country?

Yes. You may register the birth of your child who was born in a country other than the United States with the Division of Vital Records if either adoptive parent is a citizen of the United States and a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. However, it will be necessary for you to contact the Orphans' Court where you reside to register the foreign adoption. Once the court has filed this adoption with the Division of Vital Records, the adoptive parent(s) may request a certified copy of the birth record. We suggest you review the instructions on obtaining a certified copy of the birth certificate.  You may call (724) 656-3100 if you require further information.

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Can we register the birth of our child that was born in another country?

Yes. You may register the birth of your child who was born in a country other than the United States with the Division of Vital Records if either parent is a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The appropriate forms and instructions may be requested from the Division of Vital Records. You may call (724) 656-3100 if you require further information.

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