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.
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.
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.
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.
On December 3, 2007, Nova Scotia was the first province or territory in Canada to introduce 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 Nova Scotia 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. Nova Scotia Vital Statistics will not exchange previous certificates free of charge.
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.
Regular Service (15-20 business days):
Rush Service (8-12 business days):
The only payment currently accepted is credit card (Visa and MasterCard).
It will take 15-20 business days with Regular Service or 8-12 business days with Rush Service.
Your Birth Certificate will be sent to you directly from Nova Scotia Vital Statistics Agency. It will arrive in the mail with the Regular Service option, or by courier with the Rush Service option.
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 Nova Scotia Vital Statistics at:
Toll Free: 1-877-848-2578 (Nova Scotia only)
Short Form Birth Certificate (12.5 cm x 17.6 cm):
The Short Form Birth Certificate is required when applying for an adult Canadian passport. It contains basic information: full name of individual, date of birth, place of birth, sex, registration date, registration number and date issued.
Long Form Birth Certificate (12.5 cm x 17.6 cm):
The Long Form Birth Certificate contains all the information as stated above, plus the names of parents and birthplaces of parents (province/country only).
Although a Short Form Birth Certificate is a valid legal document, most government agencies prefer the Long Form Birth Certificate as identification as it contains more information concerning your identity, especially in the case of children/minors.
A Certified Copy 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.
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.
The Nova Scotia Vital Statistics office holds complete records from 1864, 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 and are input into a database available 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.
You can apply for a Nova Scotia Birth Certificate if you are:
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.
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.
Yes. You may choose to order a Short Form Birth Certificate which excludes the names of your parents on the document.
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. If you would like to correct an error or omission that was made in the original Registration of Birth, contact the Nova Scotia Vital Statistics Office by calling (902) 424-4381 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. In some cases, a change or correction to a person’s name does not require a legal change of name under the Change of Name Act. An agent of Vital Statistics will evaluate your request to find out whether your name can be corrected through the amendment process of the Vital Statistics Act.
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.
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.
No. If you were born in Canada, you need your Canadian Birth Certificate to obtain a Canadian Passport. In extremely rare exceptions will this rule not apply.
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.
No. Birth Certificates do not expire as long as they remain in good physical condition.