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