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What is a Birth Affidavit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A birth affidavit is a legal statement providing details about the circumstances of a birth for the purpose of proving identity and/or citizenship when a birth certificate is not available. Depending on the nation, people may need to fill out a specific form for government agencies, and in other regions, the birth affidavit can be a hand-drafted document with the appropriate details. Information about forms is usually available through state departments, since they are responsible for handling citizenship and immigration matters.

People may not have birth certificates for a variety of reasons, or their birth certificates might not be acceptable by government standards. In these circumstances, it is necessary to use a birth affidavit to establish identity. The form includes the person's name, gender, and place of birth. People also state when they were born, and the form may have room to record things like name changes to make it possible to trace the subject of the form. Someone who knows the subject must fill out and witness the form, indicating that she knows the subject and supports the claims made on the birth affidavit.

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Applicants for passports, drivers licenses, and other government documents typically need a birth certificate to prove identity and citizenship. The government requires this because people can use official government identifications to establish or verify citizenship; something like a passport, for example, is widely accepted as proof of citizenship. Birth certificates need to be official copies with a seal, and should meet the standards of the government agency. If applicants do not have birth certificates, cannot obtain official copies, or have inadequate certificates, they may need to turn to birth affidavits.

Government officials will carefully scrutinize a birth affidavit. People sign the form under penalty of perjury, and representatives of government agencies want to make sure that the claims made on the form are valid. They may ask the person to repeat the claims made on the form orally or could request a form from a different witness, if they feel the first may not be wholly reliable. Someone like the doctor who attended a birth is a good choice for a witness, while a close friend is not.

Birth affidavits should be kept in a safe place. Government agencies will return the form after inspecting it, and it is advisable to make a copy for easy reference, while depositing the original in a bank or similar safe location.

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