Legal Requirements

Birth Cer­tifi­cates:

Legal Require­ments

Birthers often claim that the Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Live Birth (COLB) that the Oba­ma cam­paign pub­lished and made avail­able for inspec­tion dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign is not a legal­ly valid birth cer­tifi­cate. Phil Berg, in par­tic­u­lar, nev­er miss­es a chance to say that “you could­n’t even reg­is­ter for LIt­tle League” with a Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of LIve Birth. How­ev­er, the State of Hawaii has stat­ed on one of its offi­cial web­sites: The COLB is the ONLY type of birth cer­tifi­cate the state pro­vides today. Here are some legal require­ments of var­i­ous gov­ern­men­tal and pri­vate enti­ties in the Unit­ed States regard­ing a birth cer­tifi­cate:


U.S Pass­port: 

To get a U.S. pass­port, you must pro­vide proof that you are a U.S. cit­i­zen. There are sev­er­al ways you can do this; sub­mit­ting a pre­vi­ous­ly issued, undam­aged U.S pass­port or a nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­tifi­cate will do. How­ev­er, if you sub­mit a birth cer­tifi­cate, it must be a cer­ti­fied birth cer­tifi­cate. The U.S. State Dept. explains that a cer­ti­fied birth cer­tifi­cate has:

  •  reg­is­trar’s raised, embossed, impressed or mul­ti­col­ored seal
  •  reg­is­trar’s sig­na­ture, and
  •  the date the [orig­i­nal] cer­tifi­cate was filed with the reg­is­trar’s office, which must be with­in 1 year of your birth

Now you under­stand why, amaz­ing­ly enough, when the pho­tog­ra­phers from took the famous 9 pho­tos of the COLB at the Oba­ma cam­paign head­quar­ters in Chica­go, they made sure to take sep­a­rate pho­tos of:


Added 6/17/2012: Updat­ed require­ments: 

Begin­ning April 1, 2011, all birth cer­tifi­cates must also include the full names of the appli­can­t’s parent(s). For more infor­ma­tion, please see New Require­ment for all U.S. Birth Cer­tifi­cates.


Oth­er Fed­er­al Require­ments:

1. To get a Social Secu­ri­ty num­ber, the Social Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion gives the fol­low­ing advice:

Using a birth certificate to prove age

Q. I’m get­ting ready to sign up for Social Secu­ri­ty. I heard I have to show you my birth cer­tifi­cate. I’ve got a copy of it in my safe deposit box. Is this good enough?


A. It depends.  If your copy is signed by the agency that issued your birth cer­tifi­cate and car­ries an offi­cial seal, then it’s accept­able. We can­not accept an uncer­ti­fied pho­to­copy.

Once again, we see that if the birth cer­tifi­cate car­ries an offi­cial seal (the raised seal) and the sig­na­ture of the reg­is­trar, then it’s legal for all pur­pos­es.

2. To sat­is­fy the require­ments of an I‑9 (Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment) Autho­riza­tion to Work), an employ­ee must prove that he/she is autho­rized to be employed in the Unit­ed States.
One of the doc­u­ments which sat­is­fies this require­ment, as stat­ed on Form I‑9 (p. 5, List C) is:

Orig­i­nal or cer­ti­fied copy of a birth cer­tifi­cate
issued by a State, coun­ty, munic­i­pal author­i­ty or ter­ri­to­ry
of the Unit­ed States bear­ing an offi­cial seal.

In the Hand­book for Employ­ers (Instruc­tions for com­plet­ing Form I‑9, cer­ti­fied copies of a birth cer­tifi­cate are giv­en spe­cif­ic author­i­ty. On the list of “Some ques­tions you may have about Form I‑9” (Part 7), here is ques­tion No. 20:

20. Q. May I accept a pho­to­copy of a doc­u­ment pre­sent­ed by an employ­ee?

A. No. Employ­ees must present orig­i­nal doc­u­ments. The only excep­tion is that
an employ­ee may present a cer­ti­fied copy of a birth cer­tifi­cate.

Lit­tle League:

To qual­i­fy for Lit­tle League, here is the descrip­tion of what sat­is­fies the “proof of age” require­ment:

An orig­i­nal doc­u­ment issued by fed­er­al, state or provin­cial reg­is­trars of vital sta­tis­tics, or local offices there­of, list­ing the date of birth, with ref­er­ence to the loca­tion and issue date of the orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate, is accept­able. (The orig­i­nal birth cer­tifi­cate ref­er­enced must have been filed, record­ed, reg­is­tered or issued with­in one (1) year of the birth of the child.) Also issued by these agen­cies are pho­to­copies of the cer­tifi­cat­ed [sic] of live birth with the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion also pho­to­copied, includ­ing the sig­na­ture, and include the seal of [sic] impressed there­on. Such doc­u­ments are accept­able with­out “live” sig­na­tures, pro­vid­ed the orig­i­nal filed, record­ed, reg­is­tered or issued date of the birth cer­tifi­cate was with­in one (1) year of the date of birth.

The COLB is:

  • issued by a state reg­is­trar
  • ref­er­ences the date of birth, the loca­tion, and the issue date (Aug. 8, 1961).

There­fore, it sat­is­fies all the require­ments stat­ed above.

Begin­ning in 2001, Lit­tle League announced New Eli­gi­bil­i­ty Stan­dards and Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Pro­ce­dures. Among them:

Regard­ing age, in pre­vi­ous years, an orig­i­nal state­ment or cer­tifi­cate issued by a gov­ern­ment author­i­ty was accept­able, regard­less of the date of issue. Start­ing in 2002, the date of issue (or record date, reg­is­tra­tion date, file date, etc.) of the orig­i­nal birth doc­u­ment must be with­in 30 days of the date of birth.

Since Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s COLB was filed on Aug. 8, 1961, with­in four days of his date of birth, the COLB would sat­is­fy this require­ment.

As a side­note, the 2010 Nation­al Lit­tle League Cham­pi­ons are the Wai­pio All-Stars, from Oahu, HI. Because of their ages, all those Hawai­ian Lit­tle League play­ers reg­is­tered using a COLB; Hawaii no longer pro­vides any oth­er type of birth cer­tifi­cate.


* Some birthers will tell you there’s a dif­fer­ence between the orig­i­nal cer­tifi­cate being “filed” and “accept­ed”. They claim that the COLB shows that the orig­i­nal cer­tifi­cate was nev­er “accept­ed” by the state reg­is­trar. How­ev­er, you can see at the offi­cial State Dept. web­site that the word “filed” is used.

Falsehoods Unchallenged Only Fester and Grow