A birth certificate is a document issued by a government recording the birth of a child for vital statistics, tax, military, and census purposes. The birth certificate is usually the first legal document an individual acquires. In the US, birth certificates serve as proof of an individual’s age, citizenship status, and identity. They are necessary to get a social security number, apply for a passport, enroll in school, obtain a driver’s license, gain employment, or apply for other benefits.
In the United States, birth certificate registration is decentralized. There is no national (federal) birth registry, as found in other nations, such as the UK. Instead, birth certificates are issued by the states, which under law must report annual vital statistics data to the federal government. If a baby is born to American parents overseas, the U.S. Department of State collects that data. Within each state, the management of birth certificates might be further decentralized, with counties handling them and then reporting it to the state.
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