Your birth certificate is an important legal document that establishes who you are, and when and where you were born. A birth certificate is required for many important applications like passport, the medical services plan, social insurance number, and school enrollment.
Who can Apply for a Birth Certificate?
Under the Vital Statistics Act, any of the following people can order a birth certificate:
- the person who is the subject of the birth certificate
- a parent of the person who is the subject of the certificate, if that person is under 19 or incapable
- a custodial guardian if the parent is incapable, and the subject of the birth certificate is under 19 or incapable
- a person who has the written permission of an eligible applicant
- an officer of the provincial or federal government in Canada who requires the certificate for an official purpose; or
- any other person who satisfies the registrar general that the request for the birth certificate is made in good faith
Note: If you do not meet the eligibility requirements above, but require a birth document for legal purposes or for a federal application (i.e. pension or native status application), you may qualify to obtain a Declaration of Particulars Certificate.
How to Order a Birth Certificate
If it is your birth certificate or if you are a parent ordering the certificate for your child who is 18 years old or younger, you can order the certificate in any of the following four ways. All other individuals placing an order can only order the certificate in person or by mail.
Use the Vital Statistics Agency's secure online ordering service. A credit card is required.
Go to any Service BC counter. You do not need to fill out an application, but will need to provide the customer service representative with the same details about the birth that are requested on the Application for Birth Certificate or Registration Photocopy / Extract (VSA 430B) form (PDF, 1.12MB). Payment must also be provided.
Send a completed Application for Birth Certificate or Registration Photocopy (VSA 430B) form (PDF, 1.12MB) with payment to:
Vital Statistics Agency
PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt
How to Order a Birth Certificate without Sex Displayed
Anyone with a British Columbia birth registration has the option to request a birth certificate that does not display the sex designation. This option does not change the birth registration - it just means the sex designation will not appear on the birth certificate. Information regarding change of gender designation can be found at Change of Gender Designation on Birth Certificates.
You can order a birth certificate that does not display the sex designation by completing the Application for Birth Certificate or Registration Photocopy / Extract (VSA 430B) form (PDF, 129KB) and choosing the option to not display the sex. You can mail the application and payment or order in-person at any Service BC counter (online ordering is not available at this time).
Note: A birth certificate with no sex displayed is valid and recognized by the Government of British Columbia; however, the Government of British Columbia cannot guarantee that a British Columbia birth certificate with no sex displayed will be accepted by other organizations in British Columbia or by other jurisdictions.
Cost & Processing Times
$27 per birth certificate. Birth certificates print and are sent by regular mail from Victoria to you, after receipt of all required information. Allow four to six weeks for processing. NOTE: Birth certificates for newborns cannot be issued until the birth registration is submitted, and Vital Statistics receives the Notice of Birth from the hospital.
$60 per birth certificate. Once all required information is received, certificates print the next business day, and ship via courier service from Victoria to you. NOTE: Birth certificates for newborns cannot be issued until the birth registration is submitted, and Vital Statistics receives the Notice of Birth from the hospital.
- Birth certificates for newborns cannot be issued until the birth registration has been submitted and the Notice of Birth has been received from the hospital. Allow four to six weeks for the birth certificate(s) to be printed and mailed to you
- Each type of certificate prints, and is mailed, separately. If you order an individual and a parental certificate, you will typically receive the individual certificate followed by the parental certificate a few days later
- Courier delivery is dependent on a variety of factors, including the delivery destination. Certificates will not be received the same day that the application is processed
What B.C. Birth Certificates Look Like
Birth Certificate with Parental Information Included
The parental information certificate contains the individual's name, date of birth, place of birth, sex (unless requested not to display) and parent(s) name and birthplace. The certificate is 12.5 cm wide by 17.6 cm high.
Many applications, such as passport, require this birth certificate for children up to the age of 16.
Individual Information Only Birth Certificate
B.C. Birth Certificates Printed Before 2008
Older birth certificates are still valid and accepted for most applications. However, in some cases where identity security is of the utmost importance, agencies may ask you to provide the more secure, polymer birth certificate. You cannot bring in your older certificate and get a new one free of charge because the fees for the certificate cover the costs of producing and issuing the new document.
Security Features of the British Columbia Birth Certificate
On January 2, 2008, the Vital Statistics Agency moved from paper certificates to more durable polymer certificates. Here are some of the features that make B.C. birth certificates more secure:
The certificate (12.5 cm x 17.5 cm) is intentionally awkward to carry with you in a purse or wallet. Birth certificates are not for day-to-day identification, so store them in a safe place when they are not in use.
The birth certificate has many features that make it difficult to copy:
- Two transparent windows — one with a colour-shifting property and one with three floating maple leaves
- Two watermark/ shadow features — maple leaves and Canada geese
- A thread repeating the word “Canada” that runs from top to bottom
- Raised lettering similar to that found on Canadian money
- A colour-shifting window with the word “CANADA” in three waves below the clear window containing the maple leaves (purple/green)
- The provincial/territorial coat of arms in colour with the jurisdiction's seal and a signature
- A one-dimensional bar code containing the birth certificate number in the bottom right corner
- A two-dimensional bar code containing the same information about the certificate holder that is on the front of the document
Why do newer birth certificates refer to parents rather than mother or father?
A British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in 2001 decided that birth registrations must recognize the rights of both same-sex and opposite-sex parents. The word “parent” describes all categories.
Protecting Yourself from Identity Fraud
Your birth certificate is a foundation identity document, so take care of it. The following three things can help you protect yourself from identity fraud:
- Keep your birth certificate in a safe location, and do not carry it with you as general identification
- Keep a photocopy of your birth certificate so if it is lost or stolen, you can report the certificate number and issue date to Vital Statistics
- Consider replacing paper birth certificates with the more secure post-2008 polymer version
Reporting Lost or Stolen Birth Certificates
File a Declaration of Lost or Stolen Birth Certificate (VSA 410B) form (PDF, 1.12MB). This free service authorizes the cancellation of the birth certificate under Section 40.1 (2) (c) of the Vital Statistics Act.
The Vital Statistics Agency cannot stop dishonest individuals from using a lost or stolen certificate, but we can make it harder for them. Vital Statistics notifies agencies that electronically verify birth certificate information, such as ICBC, when you report a birth certificate lost or stolen.
Contact the local police to report your lost or stolen birth certificate. If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, contact The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 888 495-8501.