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FAQs

British Columbia Birth FAQs
Why do I need a Birth Certificate?

A Birth Certificate is one of the most important vital documents that any person should have and will be required at several points through a person’s life.  The general purpose a Birth Certificate serves is to identify a person.  The document tells the person's name, date of birth and where they were born.  A Birth Certificate also serves as basic proof of citizenship and is often required as identification for government services or applying for other personal documents.  Because a Birth Certificate is such a valuable document, it should always be kept in a safe place where it can be easily accessed when needed.  It is highly recommended that you do not carry your Birth Certificate in your wallet or purse as thousands of certificates are reported lost or stolen every month.

Education
A Birth Certificate is required to identify children when they enrol at a new school. This may be important when registering for kindergarten or if a family moves to a new district.

Passport
If a person desires to travel outside of the country, he must have a valid passport. Birth Certificates are required to identify the traveler in order to obtain a passport.

Social Security Card
A Birth Certificate contains the required information necessary to obtain a social security card.  If a card is lost or stolen, a certified copy of the Birth Certificate is needed to get a replacement.

Driver’s Licence
When someone wishes to be issued a driver's license, a Birth Certificate is usually one of the forms of identification required to complete the process and gain the privileges of a licensed driver. 

What is the new security enhanced British Columbia Birth Certificate?

On January 2, 2008, British Columbia introduced a new, more secure and durable Birth Certificate.  The new Birth Certificate is made from a strong polymer material and has more than 20 visible and concealed security features to help prevent identity theft.

Experts in identity theft discourage carrying a Birth Certificate in a purse or wallet. The size of the new certificate is 12.5 cm wide x 17.6 cm high, which makes carrying it in a wallet or purse prohibitive.  The wallet size Birth Certificate is no longer available.

Individuals may choose to include or exclude parents' information on their Birth Certificate.

Those born in British Columbia are not required to obtain a new Birth Certificate as the old ones remain valid.  However, in some instances, where identity security is of utmost importance, citizens may be asked by other agencies to provide the new more secure document as proof of identity or citizenship.  British Columbia Vital Statistics will not exchange previous certificates free of charge. 

How do I order a first time British Columbia Birth Certificate?

1.   Click "Select Certificate Type" or "Get It Now" button on home page.  Follow the prompts to select the proper certificate and Province/Territory you were born in.

2.   Click the "Apply Online" button.

3.   Complete the information on the Online Application which will guide you through several Steps and pay using your credit card.

4.   You will receive an order confirmation email from us within an hour.  We will then go on to process your application according to the service option you have chosen.  If there are any problems with your application, a representative will contact you via email with the required corrections.

5.   Your Birth Certificate will either arrive in the mail, or by courier, depending on the service option chosen.

How do I order a replacement British Columbia Birth Certificate?

You may order a replacement Birth Certificate in the same way as a first time Birth Certificate (see above).  The application is the same for both types of orders.

How much does a British Columbia Birth Certificate cost and how can I pay?

A British Columbia Personal Info Only / Personal Info & Parentage Certificate costs:

  • $62.00 with the Regular Service option (15-20 business days)
  • $95.00 with the Rush Service option (5-10 business days)

A British Columbia Registration Photocopy costs:

  • $85.00 with the Regular Service option (25-30 business days)
  • $95.00 with the Rush Service option (5-10 business days)

The only payment currently accepted is credit card (Visa and MasterCard). 

How long will it take to receive my British Columbia Birth Certificate?

A Birth Certificate will take 15-20 business days with the Regular Service option or 5-10 days with the Rush Service option.

A Registration Photocopy will take 25-30 business days with the Regular Service option or 5-10 days with the Rush Service option. 

How will my British Columbia Birth Certificate be sent to me?

Your Birth Certificate will be sent to you by mail directly from British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency. 

How do I find the status of my British Columbia Birth Certificate application?

If you are following up on the status of an already ordered certificate, as the applicant, you will need to contact the government agency directly.  They will only discuss the status of the application with the applicant.  Please contact British Columbia Vital Statistics at:

Toll Free: 1-800-663-8328 (BC only)
Telephone: 250-952-2681 

What types of Birth Certificates are available to order in British Columbia?

Birth Certificate with Personal Info Only (12.5 cm x 17.6 cm):
The Personal Info Only Birth Certificate contains basic information: full name of individual, date of birth, place of birth, sex, registration number, and registration date.

Birth Certificate with Personal Info and Parentage (12.5 cm x 17.6 cm):
The Personal Info and Parentage Birth Certificate contains all the information as stated above, plus the names of parents and birthplaces of parents (province/country only).

Although a Birth Certificate with Personal Info Only is a valid legal document, most government agencies prefer the Birth Certificate with Personal Info and Parentage as identification as it contains more information concerning your identity, especially in the case of children/minors. 

What is a Photocopy of Registration?

A Photocopy of Registration is a certified photocopy of the original Registration of Birth, completed at the time of birth.  It contains all the information appearing on the Registration of Birth and is usually required for legal purposes.  Photocopies are rarely needed by citizens and are, by law, for restricted use only.  They are not recommended for use as identification.  A restricted photocopy can only be issued if authorized by the Registrar General of Vital Statistics or on the order of a court.  

What if I am uncertain of my date of birth?

Birth Certificates are issued using the information from the original Registration of Birth.  If you are not certain of your date of birth, fill out the estimated date of birth on the Birth Certificate application.  If no record of the birth is found for that date, the fee will be applied to the search process.  If no record of the birth is found during the search process, you will receive a letter advising you that a record is not available. 

Can I obtain a British Columbia Birth Certificate for a birth that occurred a long time ago?

The British Columbia Vital Statistics office holds complete records from 1872, when civil registration began.  Birth records remain there until they are more than 100 years old which means they are no longer within the restricted period.  These unrestricted death records are then transferred to the Provincial Archives of British Columbia which is available to the public for searching.  However, the Vital Statistics office cautions that not everything in the original record has been transcribed. To get all of the details, it is necessary to order a copy of the original document.  Also, the information which was collected has varied over the years, with more recent records containing more details than those which are older.  For example, the Vital Statistics office have some incomplete church records that date further back than their civil registration records, which their staff may be able to search if the applicant knows the denomination of the person whose birth record they are seeking. 


Who is entitled to apply for a British Columbia Birth Certificate?

Eligibility requirements vary by Province or Territory.  Please select a Province or Territory where the birth occurred to confirm whether you are eligible to apply on behalf of another person. 

What should I do in the event that my British Columbia Birth Certificate is lost or stolen?

You may complete a Declaration of Lost or Stolen Birth Certificate form.  The filing of this Declaration provides the authority for the cancellation of a certificate under Section 40.1 (2) (c) of the Vital Statistics Act.  This service is provided free of charge.

It is important to note the use of a lost or stolen Birth Certificate by another individual cannot be prevented by the Vital Statistics Agency.  However, Vital Statistics does electronically verify Birth Certificate information with programs such as ICBC.  In the event a verification request is received, Vital Statistics will notify them the certificate is invalid.

You may also wish to contact the local police to report your lost certificate in the event it has been turned in, or if you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft.  Contact RCMP PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501. 

If I have a French name, should I include the accents on my British Columbia Birth Certificate application?

Yes.  If the birth record contains any French accents on the registered names, please ensure they are clearly displayed on the Birth Certificate application form. 

Can I exclude my parents’ names from my British Columbia Birth Certificate?

Yes.  You may choose to order a British Columbia Birth Certificate with Personal Information Only which excludes the names of your parents on the document. 

Can I make an amendment to a British Columbia Birth Certificate?

Yes.  Occasionally birth records need to be amended, when an error has been made or for another reason, such as adding the father’s name.  Proof, such as a certified photocopy (i.e. Citizenship Cards and Birth Certificates) is required to amend a birth record.  To change or correct an error to an existing birth registration, download and complete the form called Statutory Declaration – Correction of Error or Omission in Registration.

You may also get the forms at a Vital Statistics or Service BC office.  You will need to have your signature witnessed by a person authorized to take oaths.  This service is available at any Vital Statistics or Government Agent Office.

The fee for making corrections to a Birth Registration (not including certificate) is $27.00. 

Can I laminate my British Columbia Birth Certificate?

No.  You cannot laminate your Birth Certificate yourself because it will render it invalid. However some provinces, like Ontario, used to laminate certificates before the 1980s, and providing the provincial government laminated the document it remains valid. Today many provinces now issue laminated wallet sized Birth Certificates. 

Can I travel to the United States using only my British Columbia Birth Certificate?

No.  This used to be possible, but under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a Canadian Birth Certificate is no longer considered valid proof of identity when traveling between Canada and the United States.  Children in school parties can still use their Birth Certificates, but anyone else planning to cross the border must have a valid travel document like a Canadian passport, enhanced driver’s licence or a NEXUS card.  

Can I get a Canadian Passport without my British Columbia Birth Certificate?

No.  If you were born in British Columbia, you need your British Columbia Birth Certificate to obtain a Canadian Passport.  In extremely rare exceptions will this rule not apply.  

Is it possible for my child to travel before he is registered in British Columbia?

Yes.  If your newborn is required to travel before the birth is registered, you may obtain a Temporary Confirmation of Birth Letter through the city clerks’ office in the municipality in which the baby was born.  You may travel using this document for up to 90 days after the date you submitted the Statement of Live Birth document.

At least one parent must appear in person and provide identification to obtain a Temporary Confirmation of Birth Letter. There may be fees for this service, which are set and collected by individual municipalities. 

Does my British Columbia Birth Certificate expire?

No.  Birth Certificates do not expire as long as they remain in good physical condition.