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FAQs

General FAQs
Birth FAQs

General Questions

  1. What is a raised seal?  How do I get a raised seal on my certificate?
  2. May I use a credit/debit card to pay the fees for a certificate?
  3. May I pick up a copy of a certificate for someone else?
  4. I have been told that I need to get an apostille on my certificate. How do I do that?
  5. I need my certificate ASAP.  Can I get my request expedited?

What is a raised seal?  How do I get a raised seal on my certificate?

The certified copies issued by the Tennessee Department of Health – Office of Vital Records always have a raised seal. A raised seal is the same as an embossed seal.

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May I use a credit/debit card to pay the fees for a certificate?

The Tennessee Office of Vital Records can only accept cash, personal check or money order.   However, for your convenience, we have contracted with an independent company to provide you with credit card service.  Additional fees will be collected by the independent company.
To use this service call 1-866-233-0740.

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May I pick up a copy of a certificate for someone else?

Other than the person named on the certificate, certified copies may only be issued to a spouse, parent, legal guardian or child of the person named on the certificate.   If you are acting as an authorized representative for one of these people, the Tennessee Office of Vital Records  may release the certificate to you under the following conditions:

  1. you furnish a photocopy of a signed government identification card for yourself and the person for whom you are representing, AND
  2. you have a signed statement from that person giving the Tennessee Office of Vital Records  permission to release the copy to you.

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I have been told that I need to get an apostille on my certificate. How do I do that?

If you already have a certified copy of your certificate and need an apostille added, you may send your request and your certificate directly to the Secretary of State along with the required fee of $2.00 per document.  More information may be found at http://www.state.tn.us/sos/forms/apos.pdf.

If you do not have a certified copy of your certificate, you may apply to the Tennessee Office of Vital Records for both a certified copy of your certificate and an apostille by:

  1. Following the instructions to request a certified copy of your certificate and;
  2. including one check made payable to Tennessee Office of Vital Records for the required number of certified copies and;
  3. including a second check made payable to the Tennessee Secretary of State for the apostille.  (The fee for the apostille is $2.00 for each document.)

After preparing your certified copies, the Office of Vital Records will forward your copies, your check, and your request to the Tennessee Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will apply the apostille and return your documents to you as directed in your request.

Additional information may be found at http://www.state.tn.us/sos/forms/apos.pdf.

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I need my certificate ASAP.  Can I get my request expedited?

If you send an expedite fee in addition to the fee required for your certified copy(s) and ask that your request be expedited, the Tennessee Office of Vital Records will give your application a priority status.  It will be filled as soon as possible.  In order to further expedite your request, you may choose to enclose a pre-paid, self-addressed shipping envelope.

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Birth Certificate Questions

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  1. What is the difference between the long form birth certificate and the short form birth certificate?  How do I know which one I need?
  2. I need a copy of my birth certificate to apply for a passport.  Should I get a long form birth certificate or a short form birth certificate?
  3. I just gave birth to a son/daughter in a hospital.  When will a certified copy of his/her birth certificate be available?
  4. I am the legal guardian of a child. May I request his/her birth certificate?
  5. I was given a mother’s copy of my baby’s birth certificate at the hospital.  Can it be used for legal purposes?
  6. My baby was born at home.  How do I file for a birth certificate?
  7. I have a newborn baby.  I need a copy of his/her birth certificate immediately.  Can I get this request expedited?
  8. I have an old white on black copy of my birth certificate.  Can it be used as a legal document?
  9. My birth certificate was not registered, when I was born.  Can I get a birth certificate?
  10. I have married my child’s father since he/she was born. Can I add the father’s name to his/her birth certificate?
  11. My child’s father’s name was not put on his/her birth certificate.  May I add it now?
  12. I was adopted. How can I obtain copies of my original birth record before the adoption?
  13. I have adopted a child who was born in Tennessee. How do I get a new birth certificate for him/her?
  14. I adopted a child from another country.  May I get a Tennessee birth certificate for her/him?

What is the difference between the long form birth certificate and the short form birth certificate?

The long form certificate is a printed image of the original certificate of birth. In addition to the child’s name and date of birth, it contains information such as the name of the hospital, address of parents, parents’ dates of birth, etc.  The “short form” certificate is a computer generated extract of the information listed on the original birth certificate.  The short form is not available for births prior to 1949.  If the date of birth on the certificate is 1976 or later, the information included on the short form is:

  1. name
  2. sex
  3. mother’s maiden name
  4. father’s name (if present on long form)
  5. date of birth
  6. county of birth
  7. date issued
  8. date filed. 

The short form certificate does not include parents’ names on births prior to 1976.

Both short form and long form certificates issued by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records contain a raised seal which denotes certification.  If the date of birth on the certificate is prior to 1976, you probably want the long form, since the short form does not include parents’ names.  If you were born in 1976 or later, a short form may be adequate, but would depend on the anticipated use(s) of your certificate. 

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I need a copy of my birth certificate to apply for a passport.  Should I get a long form birth certificate or a short form birth certificate?

Short form birth certificates prior to 1976 do not include parents’ names.  Short form birth certificates after 1976 have only parents first and last name.  Therefore, we would recommend that you get a long form birth certificate to apply for a passport.

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I just gave birth to a son/daughter in a hospital.  When will a certified copy of his/her birth certificate be available?

Certified copies of birth certificates are generally available for issue 30 to 45 days after the birth.  If you request the certificate by mail, please allow an additional four to six weeks for delivery of the certificate.

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I am the legal guardian of a child. May I request his/her birth certificate?

Yes. You should follow the instructions for requesting a certificate and include a copy of your guardianship papers with your request.

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I was given a mother’s copy of my baby’s birth certificate at the hospital.  Can it be used for legal purposes?

The mother’s copy of a birth certificate is generally not accepted as a legal copy.  However, you may use your mother’s copy to satisfy identification requirements when obtaining a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate.

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My baby was born at home.  How do I file for a birth certificate?
If a hospital or other birthing facility was not involved in the birth of your child, you should contact the health department in the county where your child was born.  They will initiate the process to have a birth certificate filed.  Click here for local health department telephone numbers.

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I have a newborn baby.  I need a copy of his/her birth certificate immediately.  Can I get this request expedited?

If the copy of your child’s birth certificate has arrived at the Tennessee Office of Vital Records from the hospital where your child was born, we will honor an expedite request.  An expedite fee will be required in addition to the fee associated with receiving a certified copy of the birth certificate.  See the fee schedule for information.

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I have an old white on black copy of my birth certificate.  Can it be used as a legal document?

If the white and black copy of your birth certificate does not include a multi-colored or raised seal, it is not a certified copy and probably will not be accepted as a legal document.  Even if your white and black copy does contain a seal, it may not be accepted as a legal copy due to the age of the document.

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My birth certificate was not registered, when I was born.  Can I get a certified birth certificate?

If you were born in Tennessee and believe that you never had a birth certificate, you should still follow the instructions to request a certified copy from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records.  If no record of your birth is located, the Tennessee Office of Vital Records will send you a letter certifying that no record is on file. Many agencies that ask for a birth certificate will accept this certified letter from the State of Tennessee in place of a birth certificate.

If you have received a letter certifying that no record of your birth in on file, you may ask that a delayed registration of birth be filed. You will be required to furnish old documents as evidence to prove the facts of your birth. Contact the Tennessee Office of Vital Records for more detailed information.

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I have married my child’s father since he/she was born. Can I add the father’s name to his/her birth certificate?

A new birth certificate can be issued with the child’s father listed, if all of the following are true:

  1. There is not a father listed on the child’s birth certificate.
  2. The mother was not legally married to someone else at the time the child was born or within 300 days prior to the child’s birth.
  3. The child’s mother and father both desire to have the father’s name listed on the birth certificate.
  4. The Application for New Certificate of Birth by Subsequent Marriage of Parents is completed, signed by both parents, notarized and submitted to this office.
  5. The appropriate fee is paid.

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My child’s father’s name was not put on his/her birth certificate.  Can I get it added?

The father’s name may be added to a birth certificate by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, if all of the following are true:

  1. The child has not yet reached his/her 19th birthday.
  2. The mother was not married at the time the child was born or within 300 days prior to the child’s birth.
  3. Both the biological mother and the father want to add his name to the birth certificate.
  4. There is no father’s name on the birth certificate.
  5. A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form may be obtained from Tennessee Child Support Services or from your county health department.

If the answer to any of the above questions is false, a court order would be required to add the father’s name to the birth certificate.

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I was adopted. How can I obtain copies of my original birth record before the adoption?

After an adoption, the original birth record and all other legal documents related to the adoption are sealed and are not accessible except under certain procedures specified by state law.  If you were adopted in Tennessee, requests for access to information about your adoption and copies of your sealed adoption records should be directed to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Department of Children's Services
7th Floor, Cordell Hull Building
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 741-9701
http://www.state.tn.us/youth/

If you were born in Tennessee but adopted in another state, the Tennessee Office of Vital Records will require a court order to open and release your original birth certificate and other information from the sealed file. The court order should come from either the court in which you were adopted or the Chancery Court in Davidson County, Tennessee.

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I have adopted a child who was born in Tennessee. How do I get a new birth certificate for him/her?

You should submit the following to this office:

  1. A certified copy of the court order of adoption.
  2. A completed Certificate of Adoption (parts I,II and III, only).
  3. A check or money order for the required fee. If you want a certified copy of the new certificate please include an additional fee for the desired number of copies.

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I adopted a child from another country.  May I get a Tennessee birth certificate for her/him?

Tennessee law allows creation of birth certificates only for persons born in Tennessee.  We can create and file a report of foreign birth for a child born in another country but adopted by a Tennessee resident.  In order to accomplish this, we would need the following documentation:

  1. The Application for Report of Foreign Birth for Adopted Child. The application must be:
    1. Completed
    2. Signed by the parents;
    3. Signed and stamped by the court clerk where the order of adoption was issued.
  2. The original certified copy of the final order of adoption issued by a Tennessee court.
  3. The appropriate fee.

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