Our first child was born in Singapore. Much like every single aspect in the island nation, even getting a birth certificate was simple. Before we headed home after our stay at the hospital, we went down to an office in the hospital that deals with birth certificates. They checked identification, we paid the fees and a birth certificate was printed, laminated and handed over to us.
Our second child was born recently in the US in Santa Clara. Getting a birth certificate for this child took more steps and a whole lot longer.
Here are the steps we had to take to get a birth certificate in Santa Clara, CA:
- During our stay in the hospital after delivery, a birth clerk came by to take down details like the name we had chosen for our baby, our names and such.
- When we checked out of the hospital, we got a birth verification letter with the details like date and time of birth, baby’s name and parents’ names.
- What happens now is that the hospital has sent the birth record to the county office - this is where birth records are stored and this is the entity which issues birth certificates.
- For our county (Santa Clara County), the office issues birth certificates in person, by mail or online. We went with the online option since in person visits were stopped due to COVID and the mail option was longer and seemed susceptible to problems. The online issuance is handled by a company named VitalCheck. We filed for a birth certificate using its online interface and paid the fees.
- To complete the application, we had to print out a form and sign it in front of a notary and get it notarized. The form had to be then faxed (yes, in 2021!) to the county office’s fax number listed on the form.
- Apparently, our credit card would be charged within a week of faxing and the birth certificate issue process would begin. We did not see any response after a week and used the online contact form in the VitalChek website to enquire about this. They said the faxed form had not yet been processed at the county office and suggested we wait.
- A full 2 weeks after the fax, I saw my credit card charged for the certificate fees. A few days later, I received information from VitalChek that the certificate was on the way with a tracking ID. And we received our birth certificate!
Long last name: Another kink during the birth certificate process was that the county system apparently cannot handle long first/last names. So, my spouse’s last name appears shortened on the birth certificate and the full name is listed as an addendum on a second page meant for such fixes! So the birth certificate is actually 2 pages.