Conversation Starter: What Is a Birth Certificate?

Every year, there are over 4 million births in the United States alone, and most of these births are recorded on a birth certificate. Your birth certificate is a family document that holds the details of your birth: your first and last name, date and time of birth, your gender, the city in which you were born, and the country of which you are a citizen. In short, a birth certificate proves your existence.

The practice of issuing birth certificates has been widely used throughout civilization. The original reason was for tax purposes and for a record of those available for the military.

In all countries, it is the responsibility of the physician, midwife, hospital administrator, or the parents to make sure the proper documentation is filed with the appropriate government agency.

Today, birth certificates serve many purposes, including proof of age and proof of nationality. Birth certificates are also essential for other purposes including receiving healthcare, attending school, taking exams, adoption, getting married, opening a bank account, obtaining a driving license, obtaining a passport, voting, and even to inherit money or property. 

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Did You Know?

In countries all over the world many kids don’t have a birth certificate? This is because babies are often born at home and their parents are not able to properly register their child. The reason can be that they are too poor or that they live too far from any government agency. With no birth certificate, a lot of these kids have no idea how old they actually are and they won’t be allowed to attend school, get married, or be protected from violence and crime. It means they don’t officially exist!

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This article and its images were first published on, a website that helps parents to explain the world to kids, to inspire them to make a difference and to raise true global citizens.

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