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Birth certificate: what is it and what exactly is it for?

Birth certificate

A birth certificate is an official document that records the birth of a child. It contains information such as date and place of birth, parents' names and some other important details that can be used to verify a person's identity. This document is essential for many aspects of life, from enrolling in school to applying for a passport. Let's take a closer look at what exactly a birth certificate is and why it is so important. 

What is a birth certificate?

When a human being is born, it is mandatory to make a declaration of birth at the town hall. Thus, the birth certificate provided is an official document that certifies the legal existence of the newborn. Consequently, no one should avoid it.

Overall, a birth certificate is proof of a person's existence to the state. In addition, it makes it possible to establish filiation and to follow a family line. If you are looking for health history or want to establish your family tree, this document can be a real mine of information. Indeed, the birth certificate contains much more information than one might think. It lists in particular: the surnames and first names of the newborn as well as those of its parents, their professions, the sex of the child, its place of birth, its precise date of birth, the birth order number from the directory of births, the address of the family home, the signature of the official representative as well as that of the declarant (one of the parents) etc.

How do I get a copy of my birth certificate?

To obtain a copy of your birth certificate (or that of your child), you must contact the civil status office of your town hall of birth. If you live in mainland France, but were born in the French overseas territories, know that you can apply online at mairie.net, as is the case for a birth certificate in Les Abymes, Guadeloupe, for example. In most cases, you will receive your birth certificate within 2 to 3 weeks of submitting your request. You can also usually get expedited shipping if needed. Also, some online services offer to order and deliver copies faster than standard processing times, for an additional fee.

What is it used for ?

A birth certificate provides proof of identity and citizenship which is necessary for certain procedures such as obtaining a driver's license or a passport or registering for school. It is also an important legal document that can be used in legal proceedings or when claiming public benefits. In particular, you will have to present it if you are getting married or as part of a PACS.

Also, people with medical conditions may need their birth certificate to access their family medical history. For example, newborn babies may need specialized care because of genetic conditions that their family had to deal with before them. In this case, having a copy of the baby's birth certificate can be crucial in order to quickly provide the necessary medical care, and thus record it in the health book.

As you can see, having access to a complete copy of your (or your child's) birth certificate is extremely important for various aspects of life, from education to accessing health care. Fortunately, obtaining this document has become relatively easy with advances in technology. If you ever need such a document, be sure to take the necessary steps as soon as possible so as not to delay the procedures that require it.

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