Birth Certificates in Texas

To make it easier, I have compiled a summary of the process of getting a birth certificate after an unassisted birth in the state of Texas. You’ll need to verify this information with the state to get the most updated version. However, I don’t foresee this process to change very often.

You Have to Prove:

  1. Your pregnancy: This has to be a notarized affidavit from a medical provider.
  2. That the infant was born alive: A medical record for your baby or a letter from a provider.
  3. That the infant was born in the registration district: If your baby was born at home, you just need proof of residency for this (utility bill, rent receipt etc.).
  4. That the infant was born on the date stated: A medical record from a licensed institution.

Use of Affidavits

For one of the above cases you can use an affidavit. Let’s say you didn’t take your baby to a doctor on the day he or she was born. In that case, you may want to ask a friend or family member to sign an affidavit stating that the infant was in fact born on that day at that time at your residence. You will have to get that affidavit notarized. Most banks will notarize free of charge, but places like UPS may offer notary services for a small fee, too. Be as specific as possible on the affidavit (even to the point of being redundant) to avoid having to do it over. For example, the affidavit shouldn’t just list the date and time the baby was born but also the names and addresses of the parent and the birth place of the baby.

Where to Go

Vital Statistics is in charge of reporting births. You’ll have to go to your local Registrar’s Office in order to work on this paperwork. They’ll also ask you to fill out a mother’s worksheet (where you’ll need to fill in some information about your pregnancy such as length of gestation, date of last menstrual cycle etc.).

The Official Instructions

Texas actually allows you access to the reporting requirements online. Here is a link to the entire document where this information stems from: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/field/docs/Birth-Registration-Handbook.pdf (this is a download as a PDF). Below I have copied the information that pertains to unassisted homebirths.

“NON-INSTITUTIONAL BIRTH NOT ATTENDED BY A REGISTERED, CERTIFIED OR DOCUMENTED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.

If there is no physician, midwife, or person acting as midwife in attendance at a non-institutional birth, documentation is required from the parent(s) before a birth certificate may be filed.
In an effort to control fraudulent filings of birth records and to place control over blank forms, the Texas Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) and Texas Board of Health developed and approved rules for filing birth certificates for children born outside licensed institutions. [25 TAC §181.26] To insure uniform compliance throughout the state, VSU developed the following administrative comments and instructions.
To file a birth certificate with the appropriate local registrar the following proof must be presented to the local registrar by the person in attendance at the birth in the following order of preference:
1. The father or mother of the child; or
2. The owner or householder of the premises where the birth occurs.

The registrar may provide to the person filing the birth record a “Mothers Work Sheet” in order to gather the information to be placed on the birth record.

A birth a birth certificate can be filed only upon personal presentation of the following evidence
Note: Only one affidavit of personal knowledge of one of the four items can be used.

PROOF OF PREGNANCY, PRESENTED IN FOLLOWING ORDER OF PREFERENCE;
• An affidavit (notarized) presented from a licensed, registered, or certified health care provider who is qualified to determine pregnancy as part of the scope of his or her license or registration, or certification; or
• An affidavit (notarized) along with photocopy of ID (for example, a driver’s license or government ID, etc.) presented from one person, other than the parents, having knowledge of the pregnancy/birth

PROOF THAT THE INFANT WAS BORN ALIVE;
• A medical record or a letter from a licensed, registered, or certified health care provider or medical institution; or
• An affidavit (notarized) along with photocopy of ID (for example, a driver’s license or government ID, etc.) presented from one person, other than the parents, having knowledge of the pregnancy/birth.

PROOF THAT THE INFANT WAS BORN IN THE REGISTRATION DISTRICT;
• If the birth occurred outside the mother’s primary place of residence, proof shall consist of an affidavit (notarized) along with a photocopy of ID from a person having knowledge of the mother’s presence in the registration district on the date of the birth.
• If the birth occurred in the mother’s primary place of residence, proof of residence in the following order of preference:
o A utility bill, telephone, or other bill which includes the mother’s name and address;
o A rent receipt which includes the mother’s name, address, and signature of the mother’s landlord;
o A driver’s license, or state issued identification card, which includes the mother’s current address on the face of the license or card;
o An envelope addressed to the mother at her place of residence, and post marked prior to the date of birth; or
o An affidavit (notarized) attesting to the mother’s place of residence along with a photocopy of ID from a person, other than the father, who was either living with the mother at the time of the alleged birth, or has other knowledge of the mother’s residency.

PROOF THAT THE INFANT WAS BORN ON THE DATE STATED.
• A medical record or a letter from a licensed, registered, or certified health care provider or medical institution; or
• An affidavit (notarized) presented from one person along with photocopy of ID, other than the parents, having knowledge of the pregnancy/birth.

OTHER SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION PROVING HOME BIRTH
At the discretion of the local registrar, these procedures may be supplemented with any additional requirements needed to verify the circumstances of the birth. Additional requirements may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
• An unannounced visit by a public health nurse, other health professional, registrar staff, or other person including city, county, state, or federal law enforcement officers, prior to registering the birth. This paragraph does not permit nor give authority to enter these premises unless permission is obtained from the occupant at the time of the visit [emphasis added];
• Multiple forms of identifying documents, with or without photographs, when the documents described in this section are unavailable;
• Personal appearance of both parents, either together or separately; or
• Personal appearance of the infant whose birth certificate the parents are attempting to file

Any person who cannot meet the documentation requirements should be referred to the State Registrar and the Fraud Prevention Program. See the information under “Persons and/or Records Not Meeting Requirements for Filing.”
The documentation that has been submitted as proof should be returned to the person filing the record after the birth record is accepted.
Each local registrar must notify the Fraud Prevention Program of any suspicious documents or records submitted or filed with his or her office.
If the individual(s) attempting to file the birth records of a child not born in an institution cannot meet the four essential elements required for filing (proof of pregnancy, proof the infant was born alive, proof the infant was born in the registration district, and proof the infant was born on the date stated), the local registrar will forward the record and all documentation to the State Registrar for his or her determination.
• The local registrar will send a cover letter with the documentation explaining why he or she cannot accept the record for filing.
• The local registrar will give a letter to the parent(s) and/or person trying to file the record telling them why he or she cannot accept the record for filing and that the request and documentation have been sent to Austin for the State Registrar’s determination.
• Upon receipt of the birth record from the local registrar within one year of the date of birth, the State Registrar will direct the Fraud Prevention Program to further verify or investigate as necessary to determine to accept or not accept the documentation sent. If the documentation is deemed unacceptable the State Registrar will send a letter referring the parent(s) to a Texas district court for a judicial determination and order to file a Certificate of Birth. If the birth occurred more than a year before the parent(s) attempt to file a delayed birth certificate, and the documentation is deemed unacceptable, the State Registrar may refer the case to the county judge of the alleged county of birth for a judicial decision.”