Birth Certificate - Birth Certificates in The United States

Birth Certificates in The United States

See also: United States nationality law, Citizenship in the United States, and Birthright citizenship in the United States

In the U.S., the issuance of birth certificates is a function of the states, even though birthplace is a determinant of American citizenship.

The federal and state governments have traditionally cooperated to some extent to improve vital statistics. From 1900 to 1946 the U.S. Census Bureau designed standard birth certificates, collected vital statistics on a national basis, and generally sought to improve the accuracy of vital statistics. In 1946 that responsibility was passed to the U.S. Public Health Service. Unlike the British system of recording all births in "registers", the states file an individual document for each and every birth. In most states this document is entitled a "Certificate of Live Birth".

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for use by the individual states to document births. However, states are free to create their own forms. As a result, neither the appearance nor the information content of birth certificate forms is uniform across states. These forms are completed by the attendant at birth or a hospital administrator, which are then forwarded to a local or state registrar, who stores the record and issues certified copies upon request.

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