WASHINGTON (July 4, 2011) — If you plan on obtaining a passport, better check your birth certificate, as new rules for proving U.S. citizenship may make your certified copy obsolete.
A new law, effective April 1, requires all U.S. citizens seeking a passport to provide the "full names of the applicant’s parent(s) to be listed on all certified birth certificates to be considered as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship for all passport applicants, regardless of age."
In addition, the birth certificate "must be signed by the official custodian of birth records, bear the seal of the issuing office, and show a filing date within one year of the date of birth."
Most states that used the short-form birth certificate already provided the names of both parents, if it was known. However, many people have the old short-form that does not meet this new requirement.
Besides having information about the parents, the following must also appear on the certified birth certificate: full name of the applicant; date of birth; place of birth; raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal of issuing authority; registrar’s signature; and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (must be within one year).
According to the U.S. Department of State, the new law (22 CFR 51.42(a)) will not affect applications already in-process that have been submitted, or accepted before the effective date. So those who have the old style birth certificates and received their passports before April 1, will not have to get the new birth record to renew existing passports.
The law was changed due to the birthers' debate about President 's short-form birth certificate he used to prove his citizenship. Many in government and the public felt strongly that in order to prove actual birth, a full birth certificate, containing information on the child's parents was needed. So to insure that a person is not a naturalized citizen, information about the parents must now be on the official record.
However, if you are unable to provide information about your parents, the law allows you a number of different options to prove your U.S. citizenship. They are outlined below.
Early Public Records
If you are unable to obtain a birth certificate with the required information about your parents, a combination of Early Public Records must be submitted with your non-conforming birth certificate to be considered proof of U.S. citizenship.
These records should show: your name; date of birth; place of birth; and preferably be created within the first five years after your birth.
Examples of Early Public Records include: baptismal certificates; hospital birth certificates; census records; early school records; family bible records; and a doctor's record of post-natal care. Early Public Records are not valid when presented alone.
There are a few documents that will not be accepted as secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship: voter registration cards; army discharge papers; and social security cards.
Delayed Birth Certificate
If you were born in the United States and your birth certificate was filed not more than a year after your birth, you may file this under the following conditions: it lists the documentation used to create it (preferably Early Public Records) and it has been signed by the birth attendant or lists an affidavit signed by the parents.
If your Delayed Birth Certificate does not have any of the above items, then it should be submitted with Early Public Records.
Other ways of proving U.S. birth
The law allows a number of other ways to prove your citizenship if you do not have a birth certificate. A "Letter of No Record" is issued by the state's Department of Vital Records where you were born.
The letter must contain your name, date of birth, the years for which a birth record was searched, and acknowledgement that no birth certificate was found on file. This letter must also be submitted with a combination of Early Public Records.
Another way is by filing form DS-10, a Birth Affidavit. This process is more involved, and requires: must be submitted in person with form DS-11 (application for a passport); must include a combination of Early Public Records; must be completed by a person who has "personal knowledge" of your birth in the U.S.; must state how the person's knowledge was acquired; should be completed by an older blood relative; and must be notarized.
If you have no, living, older blood relative, then the form must be completed by the attending physician or any other person who has personal knowledge of your birth, such as a nurse, mid-wife, etc.
If you are claiming citizenship through birth abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens, but you do not have or cannot submit a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, you must submit all of the following: your foreign birth certificate translated to English; evidence of your parent's U.S. citizenship; your parent's marriage certificate; a statement of your U.S. citizen parent(s) detailing all periods and places of residence or physical presence in the United States and abroad before your birth.
And, if you were adopted, there is to much information to fit in this article. If this applies to you, please visit this Web site for more information (http://adoption.state.gov/) on adopted children from abroad.
If you are not sure where to apply for you new birth certificate, this information can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm
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