A birth certificate is a very important document that is necessary to get any amenity, such as insurance and retirement benefits, that a proven U.S. citizen is entitled to.
If you are born in the United States of America to American parents, then you are a U.S. citizen and the proof of this citizenship in your birth certificate. This certificate is necessary to get other important documents, like a passport or a visa, and even to enroll in schools or in the military. Lack of a birth certificate could cause problems even in getting a driver’s license or a marriage license.
When you go to a hospital for childbirth, you will be asked to fill several forms. Amongst these forms, some are to be kept by the hospital in their records, while others go to the county/state.
Depending on where you live, either you will have to send the form to county/state yourself, or the hospital will send them for you. For example, in California, the form is sent to the county by the hospital, whereas in Virginia, you have to send it yourself within 3-4 weeks of birth.
Hospitals keep records of births too, but these are only temporary records and therefore do not hold much value. In essence, they are not actually valid when applying for social security numbers, passports, visas, etc.
In the U.S.A. a citizen can get as many birth certificates as they want. It is always advisable to get extra original birth certificates and keep them with you.
If you happen to lose your document, you can always order your birth certificate and replace that vital. For this purpose, the first place to contact is the vital statistics office in the birth state for instructions on how to request a copy and information about the fees. If you need to get a birth certificate copy quickly, you can always ask for expedited services or shipping, though this will incur additional costs.
If you were born abroad in a foreign country to American parents, then your birth should have been registered with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in that country and your parents would have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You can get a copy of this document from the U.S. Department of State.
If you were born on a military base abroad and your parent did not register your birth with the U.S. Embassy, then you might have to contact the hospital of birth for a record of the occurrence.
You could also contact the base operator or public affairs office for the appropriate military branch and inquire on how to move forward in certifying your birth.
If you were born in a foreign country and adopted by a U.S. citizen, then you wouldn’t receive a U.S. birth certificate. Instead, the country in which you were born would issue a birth certificate.