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Birth Certificates

Your Pennsylvania birth certificate is an important form of identification used for life events like employment, getting a passport or driver's license, and even enrolling in school or youth sports activities. You can order a copy of your birth certificate from the Department of Health.

Only you, an immediate family member (including grandparents), parent/legal guardian or attorney or legal representative can order a copy of a birth certificate for anyone born after 1906. 

How do I get a birth certificate?

You can order a birth certificate onlineOpens In A New Window, in person or by mail. You must complete and sign an application, have vaild identifcation and be eligible able to request the birth certificate you ar requesting.

Here is who can order a birth certifcate:

  • You (if you are 18 years of age or older);
  • An immediate family member of a minor under the age of 18, including parents, step-parents, grandparents and a spouse. 
  • An immediate family member, which includes a spouse; parent or step-parent; brother, sister, half-brother or half sister; step-son or daughetr; grandparent or grandchild.
  • Power of Attorney
  • Attorney or legal representative of the person named on the birth certificate (must provide supporting documentation).

How much does it cost to get a birth certifcate?

Each birth certifcate is $20 . There is a $10 service fee if you order online, as well as delivery fees if you select UPS overnight shipping. All fees are non-refundable.

If you are active military or a veteran, or a immediate family member of a service-member, fees are waived.  If you need your birth certificate as identification to get treatment for opioid or heroin addiction, fees also are waived.

Payment may be made by credit card if ordering online or by telephone.  If applying in person or by mail, please submit payment in the form of a check or money order made payable to "VITAL RECORDS".  Cash is not accepted.

How long does it take to get a birth certificate?

If you need a birth certificate quickly, make your request in person at one of our six Vital Records Branch Offices or online at www.vitalchek.comOpens In A New Window.   See our Processing Times page for current processing times for applications placed online, by telephone or by mail.  Processing times are based upon application receipt date and do not include delivery time.  There may be delays if we need to resolve application issues, for genealogical requests, or if your application involves a subpoena, court order, or power of attorney.  Requests for changes to your birth

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions about Pennsylvania birth certificates, contact us or call 724-656-3100 or toll-free at 844-228-3516, Mondays through Fridays 7:15 am to 10:00 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

When do I submit my Power of Attorney documents?

A Power of Attorney (POA) document should only be submitted when an individual or eligible family member is unable to apply for a birth certificate, a death certificate or a fetal death certificate. If, as POA, you cannot comply with the following instructions, the individual or eligible requestor must apply for the certificate. An explanation must be included with the application as to why the individual or eligible family member is unable to apply.

Applicants submitting a POA should review the applicable code for the state or country where it was executed to ensure validity prior to submission with the application for a birth certificate, a death certificate or a fetal death certificate.

If you have been granted a POA for the person named on a birth certificate, you must submit a notarized POA document that contains the original signatures of the parties involved, including the original notary's signature and seal. Your original document will be returned to you.

If you have been granted POA for an individual who is eligible to request a death certificate or a fetal death certificate, you must submit a notarized POA document that contains the original signatures of the parties involved, including the original notary's signature and seal. Your original document will be returned to you.

If you do not wish to send the original POA document, you may file the original notarized POA with the Clerk of Orphan's Court division of the Court of Common Pleas (usually in the county where the person granting the power of attorney resides) to obtain a certified copy of the POA document issued by the court. The certified copy of the POA document that includes the seal of the court may be submitted to our office in lieu of the original document. The document will be returned to you.

Note that a Power of Attorney (POA) document is no longer valid upon the death of an individual.

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

The department has issued Certification of Births, which is the official document accepted by governmental agencies since 1975 as valid proof of birth. If the file date on the Certification of Birth in your possession is after Jan. 1, 1975, it is an acceptable document, with some limitations.

The U.S. Passport agency accepts a Certification of Birth as an acceptable identity document if both parents' names appear on the document. Some certifications only contain the subject's name, and that document is not acceptable for passports.

Pennsylvania's Certification of Birth is a yellow-centered, blue-bordered document containing an embossed seal in the lower right corner.

Hospital records or birth registration notices are usually not acceptable by government agencies.

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

Yes. All Certifications of Birth issued since 1975 contain a raised (embossed) seal in the lower right corner.

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

Yes. The fee may be waived if the applicant (the person applying) is an armed forces member or related to an armed forces member as stated below:

  • members of the United States armed forces who served or are currently serving
  • legal spouse of an armed forces member and widow/widower, unless he or she is remarried
  • dependent child of an armed forces member age 18 or under (If 18 years of age or over and he or she is unable to provide support for himself or herself or is reported as a dependent on an armed forces member's federal income tax return; documentation is required to prove dependency, such as a copy of an income tax return or a copy of an insurance waiver).

Note that the fee may be waived for certificates issued of the armed forces member, the legal spouse or the dependent child only. Any other relatives of the armed forces member are not eligible for the fee waiver.

The fee waiver does not apply to genealogical requests. Click on Genealogy for more information.

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

Yes. However, the time of birth may only be released by requesting a new Certification of Birth.  When completing the Birth Certificate Application, check Other in the Intended Use of Certified Copy section of the application and indicate you need the time of birth.

Note that requests for time of birth cannot be ordered online or by telephone.

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

If you have not received your certified copy within the average processing time, call 724-656-3100 for assistance. If possible, please have your cancelled check information available.

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

The majority of births occurring in Pennsylvania are filed electronically; therefore, in most cases, the birth certificate is available for issuance within one or two days after the hospital files it. Factors such as adoptions, acknowledgement of paternity or corrections can delay issuance availability.

On average, births occurring in a hospital are filed with the Division of Vital Records eight-and-a-half days after the date of birth. Some hospitals can take substantially longer.

What should I do if I have received a no record birth certification?

A No Record Birth Certification means that a record could not be located with the information you provided to the Division of Vital Records.

You can present the No Record Certification with other supporting documentation to the agency requesting proof of your birth.

You can request that a Delayed Birth Certificate be filed with the Division of Vital Records. To proceed with this process, you must return the No Record Birth Certification form you received to the Division of Vital Records and request the forms and instructions to file a Delayed Birth Certificate. Call 724-656-3100 for further information.

Note that some agencies will not accept a Delayed Birth Certificate without other supporting documentation.

What information is required to file a delayed birth certificate?

The first step is to request a copy of the individual's birth certificate from the Division of Vital Records. If the requested record cannot be located, a No Record Birth Certification will be issued.

Contact the Division of Vital Records at 724-656-3100 to request forms and instructions to file a delayed record. You must return the No Record Birth Certification.

Two documents that are at least five years old which include the exact name at birth, date of birth and place of birth must be provided which conclusively establishes the facts of birth. The information must match the information provided on the Delayed Birth Certificate form.

Do foreign governments accept a birth certificate issued by the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records? Must it be further authenticated with an apostille or certification?

Yes. However, each country has its own requirements regarding the information that is to be listed on a certified copy of a birth certificate that is further authenticated by an Apostille or Certification. It is imperative that the applicant indicate on the Birth Certificate Application that the intended use of the birth certificate is for an Apostille or Certification. The country requiring the documentation must also be listed to ensure the appropriate certified copy is issued. You must complete and submit to the Division of Vital Records a properly completed birth application with the required fee or armed forces information. Refer to Ordering Information for specific details.

Many foreign governments require that a Certification of Birth also include an Apostille or Certification for legal matters, such as foreign adoptions, international business transactions, marriage and dual citizenship.

Once you receive a Certification of Birth from the Division of Vital Records, you must take it to the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation at the Pennsylvania Department of State to obtain an Apostille or Certification. Visit the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation website for additional information.

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

Yes. Click Foreign-born Adoptions for information and instructions.

Can we register the birth of our child who was born in another country with the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records?

Yes. You may register your child's birth record if he or she was born in another country with the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records if either parent is a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Contact the Division of Vital Records at 724-656-3100 to request the appropriate forms and instructions.

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

Click http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/Opens In A New Window for information on where to write for birth certificates that occurred in other states or territories.

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 www.pacourts.us/courts/courts-of-common-pleas/orphans-court-clerks for a list of county courthouses.

Where do I get a Report of Live Birth?

The Report of Live Birth is often referred to as the original birth certificate.  This is the original report filed with the Department of Health on an individual's birth.  In accordance with the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, this document is not classified as a public document until 105 years after the individual's birth.  As such, this document is not available for disclosure under Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law.

Pennsylvania's statewide vital records program began in 1906.  Once a Report of Live Birth has reached maturity (at 105 years of age), the record becomes available through the Pennsylvania State Archives.  Visit our genealogy page for more information. 

What if the person on the birth certificate has died? Can I still get a copy of the record?

If the person on the birth certificate has died, an immediate family member can apply to get a copy of the record. Other family members must also submit a copy of the death certificate to get the document.

What is an apostille?

An apostille is used by foreign governments to assess the authenticity of an official signature on a document.  An apostille for a birth certificate is commonly required for international legal purposes, such as applying for dual citizenship or a marriage licenses from a foreign government. 

If requesting a birth certificate for an international legal purpose, be sure to clearly list the "Intended Use" of the birth certification when completing the Application for a Birth Certificate[MA1]Opens In A New Window .  By doing so, the birth certificate issued to you will also contain your parents' places of birth which is required by many foreign governments.

You will then need to present this birth certificate to the PA Department of State to obtain the apostille or certification.  Visit http://www.dos.pa.gov/OtherServices/Certifications_Apostilles for details on how to apply for an apostille.

Where can I find marriage and divorce certificates?

Marriage and divorce certificates filed in Pennsylvania are available from the county courthouse where the marriage license was issued or the divorce decree was granted.  To obtain copies of these documents, visit www.pacourts.us/courts/courts-of-common-pleas/orphans-court-clerks for contact information.