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Birth Certificate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How do I check the status of my Application for a Birth Certificate?

If you have not received your birth certificate within the average processing time from the date the application was received, call 724-656-3100 for assistance. If possible, please have your cancelled check information available.

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

If you need a certificate for someone that was born in another state, see the National Center for Health Statistics’ website for contact information.

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

Information on birth records that occurred prior to 1906 can be obtained by contacting the appropriate Pennsylvania County Courthouse. Visit the Orphans' Court Clerks website for a list of county courthouses.

Do foreign countries accept birth certificates issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health? Must it be further authenticated with an apostille or certification?

If you need a birth certificate for international purposes, please let us know this fact when completing the Application for a Birth Certificate.  You may do so by selecting “dual citizenship” or “other” under Part 1, Intended Use.  If selecting “other” for Intended Use, indicate that you need the birth certificate for international purposes.

Many foreign countries will require the authentication of the signature of the state registrar listed on the birth certificate. This authentication is done through the issuance of an Apostille.  Once you receive the birth certificate, you must take it to the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation at the Pennsylvania Department of State to receive the Apostille. Visit the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation website for additional information on fees and processing. To find out specific requirements for the country you are working with, contact that country’s Embassy or Office of the Consul.

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

Yes, the fee may be waived for birth certificates if the applicant or the applicant’s spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, who is in active service or was honorably discharged from service.  The fee is waived only when applying for one of the following birth certificates:

  • The applicant’s birth certificate
  • A spouse’s birth certificate (includes widow/widower if not remarried)
  • A dependent child’s birth certificate.

Is a raised (embossed) seal required to make a birth certificate official?

To meet today’s legal requirements for birth certificates, the birth certificate must contain a raised (embossed) seal.  Many birth certificates issues prior to 1975 did not contain a raised seal and are no longer accepted for legal purposes.  To obtain a birth certificate with a raised seal, complete an Application for a Birth Certificate.

Hospital commemorative birth certificates or birth registration notices issued by the Division of Vital Records are not birth certificates and are not acceptable for legal or governmental purposes.

Can I obtain the time of birth on my certification of birth?

Yes. Most birth certificates for births that occur after 1997 automatically include the time of birth.  However, older birth certificates only include the time of birth once we enter it into our electronic Birth Registry.  

If your birth certificate does not include time of birth, complete an Application for a Birth Certificate.  In Part 1 under “Intended Use”, select “Other” and then indicate that you need time of birth.

Please note that you cannot request time of birth if ordering online or by telephone.

When will I receive a birth certificate for my child born in Pennsylvania?

Hospitals, birthing facilities and most midwives electronically report births for children born in Pennsylvania.  Births are required to be reported within 10 days. All birth certificates are held until the child is at least 15 days old before it is released. This timeframe enables these facilities to correct any typographical errors before the birth certificate is printed.
If you informed the facility where you gave birth that you are submitting an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form, then your child’s birth certificate will be held for up to 2 months to allow for the AOP verification to be transmitted to our office.

See our Information for New Parents page for more information.

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

A No Record Certification of Birth means that we were unable to locate a birth record after a comprehensive search and based on the information you provided on your Application for a Birth Certificate.  This certificate may indicate that you were born in another state or that while you were born in Pennsylvania, your birth was not filed with our office.

If you believe you were born in Pennsylvania, you may complete a Report of Delayed Birth. If the Report of Delayed Birth is accepted by our office, you will then be issued a birth certificate.

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

Yes, see Filing a Report of Adoption of a Foreign-Born Child for more information.