An Update to Birth Information from the Census Bureau

The following article was written by my good friend, William Dollarhide. Enjoy…

For years, the United States Census Bureau has provided a valuable information service concerning census age search transcripts, civilian births abroad, births at U.S. Army facilities, and births of adopted alien children. For the full information page, visit the Census Bureau’s webpage at

However, some of the quoted fees, websites, and agency names shown at this Census Bureau page are about ten years out-of-date. Therefore, since the Census Bureau is so remiss in keeping things up to date, a complete review of the items at their webpage are shown below – but with newly updated fees and addresses, as applicable. I have also added some notes for details the Census Bureau missed. (Maybe they’ll read this and fix it. Yer’ welcome).

Birth Records
The U.S. Census Bureau does not issue birth certificates, nor does it keep files or indexes of birth records. These are maintained by the vital statistics offices in the states or areas where the births occurred. Addresses for each state’s vital statistics office may be obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics or check your local telephone directory. One commercial online service (VitalChek) is very complete and works with most of the states and U.S. territories, see

Census Transcripts (from a Census Age Search)
When applying for social security or a driver’s license, the individual who does not have a birth certificate must prove that none exists from the state where he or she was born. Therefore, the individual should obtain a statement to that effect from the vital statistics office and use it in conjunction with other documents (such as affidavits from witnesses, family Bible pages, or census transcripts). On its own, a census transcript is an acceptable piece of evidence when applying for a delayed birth certificate.

What is a census transcript? Users requesting their own census records or those of other family members should contact the Census Bureau’s Age Search Service. The only information relating to an individual that the Census Bureau might maintain would be in the records of the censuses of population taken every 10 years. Many people who do not have birth certificates request copies of their information collected in the censuses. These copies can be used as proof of birth in the absence of a birth certificate. These records are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the census law authorizes the release of census information under very specific conditions. Thus, an individual may obtain or authorize release of his or her own census information. The law directs the Census Bureau to collect a fee to cover the cost of providing this information and, unlike the FOIA, does not authorize the Census Bureau to waive payment. For more information on the Age Search Service, consult the Census Bureau Publication Age Search Information (POL/00-ASI, July 2000) [PDF 4.8Mb]. This Age Search publication describes the procedure for obtaining a census transcript using a completed BC-600 application [PDF – 142k]. A search in any census for living persons may include those as early as 1900 forward, as well as those not open to the public yet (1950 forward). The current fee is $65.00 for searching one census year. Added fees are for each full schedule requested or expedited service. One line only from the original census schedule will be extracted, showing the name, age, and birthplace of one person – and the extracted data is then presented as a certified document that can serve as a bona fide birth record.

Note: The Census Bureau’s webpage does obviously mention that it is possible to use the BC-600 application for a Census Age Search for one of your deceased ancestors (father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, great-grandmother, etc.) The same $65.00 search can be for one deceased ancestor in one census year, but some evidence of the person’s death must be provided. An Age Search in any census year not yet open to the public can be made (1950 forward).

Notification of Birth Registration (Obsolete)
The “Notification of Birth Registration” form, issued by the U.S. Census Bureau during the first half of the twentieth century, is not a birth certificate. The U.S. Census Bureau designed this form in 1924, at the request of various state vital statistics offices, to promote the accurate registration of births in the United States. The notification was completed and sent to parents of newborns when the state office of vital records received information on the birth and made up a birth registration record. If parents found errors in the information shown on the form, they were asked to correct them and return the form so the state’s record could be corrected accordingly. The notification was used until the late 1940s and then discontinued once states were keeping satisfactory birth records. The U.S. Census Bureau does not maintain these records. The only copies of the Notification of Birth Registration today remain in the hands of the family that first obtained them, or perhaps their heirs. Any copies that were used to correct a state certificate may still be in the hands of the state vital statistics office, and if so, they are usually an attachment to a corrected state birth certificate.

Births Abroad
Civilians Abroad. Upon request, the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State will furnish a certification of birth to U.S. citizens born abroad provided the birth was reported to the American consular office in the country where the birth occurred. The U.S. Department of State issues certified copies of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) (Form FS-240). To request copies of the FS-240, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage at All Consular Vital Records currently cost $50.00 per document.

U.S. Armed Forces Facilities Abroad. The above procedure should also be followed if the birth took place in a U.S. Armed Forces Medical Center or Hospital overseas. Generally, the U.S. citizen-parents of these children born abroad included dependents/military personnel or U.S. civilian employees of the military abroad. All such births were usually registered with the local U.S. Consular office.

Overseas Births, Not Registered. If the overseas birth was for a child of a parent employed by the U.S. Government but not registered with the consular office, an application should be made to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. For a FAQ page on Civilian Personnel Records, see

Certification of Birth in an Adoptive Name. U.S. citizens born overseas should apply to the U.S. Department of State for a Consular Report of Birth (FS-240) in the new adoptive name. To obtain a report in a new name, send a written request, the original FS-240, or if not available, a notarized affidavit about its whereabouts. Also, send a certified copy of the court order or final adoption decree which identifies the child and show the change of name with the request. If the name has been changed informally, submit public records and affidavits that show the change of name. Birth Certificates (occurring stateside) in an adoptive name may be requested from the state vital statistics office where it was registered. To register an adoptive child, the adoptive parent must apply to the state where the person was born and submit a copy of the court decree.

Note: The Census Bureau’s webpage does not mention that some overseas birth records (FS-240) at the Department of State for a child who was subsequently adopted and whose name was changed, are not legally closed records such as court adoption records. This is because the State Department does not require an adoption to be recorded with them. If a new FS-240 was requested after an adoption, the earlier version of the form may be suppressed. But, if no request for a new FS-240 was ever made, the State Department does not know of an adoption, nor care who may request a copy of the original, as long as the proper procedures for obtaining a copy are followed.

U.S. Army Facilities
The National Archives has records of births at U.S. Army facilities in the states and territories for 1884-1912, with some records dated as late as 1928. The archives may search the records if provided with the name of the child, names of his/her parents, place of birth, and month and year of birth. The leaflet, Military Service Records in the National Archives of the United States, GIL No. 7, Rev. 1985, has details. The leaflet is available free of charge from the National Archives. Visit the Ordering National Archives Publications webpage at Or, call the toll-free ordering desk: 866-325-7208.

If the birth took place in a U.S. Armed Forces hospital stateside after 1912, contact the vital statistics agency in the state.

Alien Children
The old Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was dissolved in 2003 and most of its functions were transferred to various Department of Homeland Security divisions, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The USCIS continues to provide many services of the old INS, including the service to furnish birth certificates of alien children adopted by U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted to the United States if the birth information is on file. To obtain the birth data, it is necessary to provide the USCIS office with proof of adoption. A Certification of Birth Data may be obtained from any USCIS office. For a local office locator, see

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