lost government issued documents

The Quickest Way to Obtain a Birth Certificate

Your child is about to register for kindergarten and you’ve just realized you don’t have a copy of his birth certificate, or your teenager is ready to apply for her learner’s permit and her birth certificate is nowhere to be found. If you need a copy of their certificate sooner rather than later, you have a few options. Surprisingly, the quickest way to obtain a birth certificate may not always be the most convenient.


Technically speaking, applying for and picking up a birth certificate in person is the fastest way to get your hands on a copy. But, there are plenty of drawbacks to going to your state or city’s office of vital records in person. First of all, your family might not even live in the same state your children were born in or might have moved away from the city where your children were born. In that case, traveling to the office in person isn’t always practical or a time-saver.

Even if your family has stayed in the same city or state where the kids were born, heading down to the office of vital statistics might not top your to-do list. When you have to balance the kids’ school and extracurricular schedules, your work schedule and everything else, going in person to pick up a birth certificate, even if it means the certificate will be in your hands in a few minutes, can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. There’s also no way to know what the lines will be like on the day you go. You could end up going on the same day everyone else does and have to wait in line for several hours.

Online is Convenient

Really, the most convenient way to get an official birth certificate is to order it online. As long as you have all the details you need, such as your child’s full name along with place and date of birth, the process of placing an order only takes about 10 minutes.

When you order online through an authorized service, the time it takes your order to process depends on the city or state of birth. For example, if your child was born in Austin, it typically takes about one to two business days for a request for a birth certificate to process. If you’re ordering a birth certificate from Seattle, the average processing time is about two or three business days.  Most agencies can typically process these requests within just a few days, although some may take a bit longer.

Shipping Options

Rather than waiting for the certificate to be sent by first class mail, you can choose express shipping (such as UPS Air) for an added fee if time is of the essence. Along with a faster delivery time, choosing express shipping offers a bit more security allowing you to track the progress of the certificate as it makes its way to your door. When the certificate is delivered, you’ll have to sign for it, which means you don’t have to worry that it was lost during shipment or that it ended up in the wrong hands.

If you don’t want to pay extra for express shipping, your certificate can be shipped using first class mail. While you might save a bit of money, regular mail shipping can up to 10 days longer until  you receive the certificate copy. It also does not provide as much security, tracking, or insurance as express shipping.



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