Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to UC: Birth Certificates

Sorry no video this week.
This is always a hot question in UC forums. "How do I file a birth certificate?" Check with your local Vital Statistics office. It varies state to state- and sometimes county to county or city to city within states, so there's no one particular way, but I have some recommendations.

  1. Find out what you need BEFORE you have the baby. With Margaret, I looked up the requirements for a Utah certificate, which was simply "fill out this paperwork and turn it in." While I was still pregnant, I took a walk down to the County Vital Statistics, asked for a homebirth birth certificate packet, asked if there was anything else I needed, and left. At home, I started filling out the information I knew for sure (names of parents, statistical information like education level, etc) and left the rest blank (name of child, statistical information like Apgar scores, etc) to be filled out after the birth. It was kind of fun. This time around, I've already looked into what is needed for a California birth certificate. It's a little more involved, but that's probably because California is a border state and has to handle citizenship issues more often than Utah does.
  2. Go on your scavenger hunt. Some states/counties/cities have special requirements like proof of pregnancy, PKU results, proof of residency, etc. Go and get what you need (official letterheads, exemption forms, etc) before the birth so it's all ready. For example, I will need proof of residency in California, so when we set up our utilities during the move, I will make sure that my name will be on the electric bill.
  3. File on time. Utah wanted us to file within 10 days of the birth, so the next Monday when the Vital Statistics office was open, McKay went and handed the paperwork in. That was it! It was so easy! California is slightly more picky and wants the mom and baby to physically go in- and depending on the county/city it is either within 10 days or within a year.
  4. If the baby needs to be present, wait until they've chunked up a little. If we live in an area that is fine with "within the first year" we'll probably wait 3 months or so. A 3 month old simply looks healthier than a newborn, so I would worry less about getting confronted with a "medical neglect" accusation. Newborns are kind of scrawny and not at their cutest. If I do need to go in within 10 days, I will probably wait until after any physiological jaundice has passed, but before the exact deadline of 10 days (say, day 6 or 7). To be honest, it's possible I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill and bringing in a jaundiced baby might be fine. Do what you're comfortable with.
  5. If the office is asking for things that aren't required, you can bring a copy of the state code requirements or come back later when someone else is working the Vital Statistics desk. Sometimes they just don't have any experience in filing birth certificates from unattended births. UCs are kind of in the minority.
  6. If you are receiving prenatal care from a midwife or doctor, they can probably do the filing for you and it'll likely be easier. Somehow having letters after your name makes things easier. Of course, if all else fails, you can legally change your last name to "Lastname MD." That might help. :)

So in all: do as much as you can ahead of time. I physically walked into Vital Statistics because I felt I would be given better attention than if I was a phone call, but if that's not possible, call them up. Not all the information is on the Internet (though a lot is). I also double checked to make sure they had given me everything I needed and I knew what was expected of me. If there's a long list of required paperwork, get it in writing so you don't forget something.

And if you have experience in filing, share your advice in the comments! Happy paperwork filing!


  1. It was a pain for me to find the right person to give me a certificate packet with Bug's birth. I ended up in the hospital, so it didn't matter. But after going to the Health Dept. and calling several people, I finally found that I needed to go directly to the Registrar of the Health Dept. and ask for the cert. info. I am hoping it will be easier this time!

  2. It was surprisingly easy to get it in CA. Baby was about 4 mos old. As I also had had a UP we found a nice pediatrician who helped us. Bring any mail as a proof that you saw a doctor with the baby (test results).

  3. OT Comment:

    "This blog is breastfeeding-friendly. You may breastfeed while reading this blog. You may also breastfeed while not reading this blog. In fact, you don't need my or anybody else's permission ever."

    If it was your intention to make me spit tea all over my keyboard, you have succeeded. That may be one of the funniest, most awesome tidbits in any blog sidebar.

  4. So IF on my next pregnancy I get my husband to agree to a UC, all I need for Utah is to go to the Vital Statistics office and get the packet you mentioned?

  5. Abigail-
    I've heard it has changed in the 2 years since Margaret was born, but only slightly. Instead of turning it into Vital Statistics like we did, you get the packet and mail it into the capitol. It actually makes it easier! You don't have to go anywhere!


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