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The Importance of Keeping a Copy of Your Birth Certificate in Your Possession

Your birth certificate is the most vital record you have. It proves your existence, your place of birth, and your legal name. But chances are good that you don’t think a lot about your birth certificate because you only need it on occasion. Then something happens that triggers the need to show your birth certificate and you find you don’t have it. You’re going to need a replacement birth certificate which can complicate getting an ID, passport, and even your Social Security card. Here’s a look at how not having this vital record can become a complication.

Obtaining a U.S. Passport

According to the U.S. State Department, the most efficient way to get a passport is to have primary evidence of U.S. Citizenship. Primary evidence consists of a U.S. birth certificate that contains information as required by the State Department, but some states issue a birth abstract. You may have a copy of your birth abstract, but it’s only valid if it contains the same information required for the birth certificate. If you have an abstract that does not contain the information, you need to get a long-form birth certificate that has the copy of your original birth record.

Getting a Driver’s License

If you have lived in the same state all your life, you’ll typically need to provide your birth certificate when you first apply for your license only. But if you move out of state, have lost your license, or apply for another class of license, you may be required to provide your birth certificate. It’s an inconvenience, but your driver’s license is used as an identity card that proves you are who you say you are. States require a vital record such a birth certificate as proof of your identity. If you don’t have your birth certificate, you may find it more difficult to get your license.

Signing Up for Social Security Benefits

When the time comes to take Social Security benefits, you need to provide your Social Security card and an original or copy of your birth certificate. The purpose of the birth certificate is to prove that you’re a U.S. citizen and entitled to receive benefits.

Getting a Marriage License

A marriage license is required for marriage in all 50 states. A marriage license or certificate is part of the vital records that is kept on file by the local governing body. Most states accept proof of ID through other means, but a birth certificate is also accepted. If you want to get married and don’t have a form of valid ID, your birth certificate can be used instead.

If you don’t have a birth certificate in your personal records, look into getting a replacement birth certificate. You never know when you need it and it’s best to have it in your possession instead of scrambling to get a copy at the last minute.

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