When my children were born, I was offered additional copies of their birth certificates (at a cost!) by the registrar's office. I thought this might be useful, so I took a few extra copies. Note that these are actual replicas of the originals, along with stamps, watermarks etc. - not just photostats.

Fast-forward 12 years and I recently was required to supply their birth certificates as part of a government bureaucratic process. So, I sent in the certificates that I had carefully filed from all those years before.

However, these were returned to me with the instruction that the certificates had to have been issued less than six months ago. Copies dating from the actual birth dates were not acceptable.

I returned to the registrar's office, ordered (and paid for!) recent copies, sent them in and all was well.

It left me wondering, however, what was the point of this? What fraud could I perpetrate using an original (and entirely authentic) birth certificate that could be prevented by forcing me to get a recent issue?

[This is in a liberal democracy in Western Europe].


2 Answers 2


It's quite common in France for example. The birth register (acte de naissance) can be annotated (mention marginale) and a full birth certificate would mention this. Specifically, it would reflect:

  • Name change
  • Marriages
  • Adoption
  • Death
  • Newly acquired French citizenship

It can also mention:

  • Civil partnerships
  • Divorce

Having a recent birth certificate ensures information about all this is not outdated and makes it more difficult to use a dead person's birth certificate for fraudulent purposes.

  • Aha... So in France they update the database when someone dies so that a new birth cert is marked décédé? This is famously not done in the UK, where a birth certificate is a static document that is never altered. This was how [canoe guy, John Darwin][1] obtained a false passport in 2004.[1]:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Darwin_disappearance_case Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:10
  • @OscarBravo If they learn about it, yes. And the original is not really altered, they just add marginal notes (as in, literally, notes in the margin of the page) to it.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:58

While it's not the jurisdiction in question, after a notorious fraud investigation, the following is true for New Jersey in the United States Birth certificates previously issued by the Jersey City/Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics (with the raised seal from Hudson County) .

  • Are no longer accepted by the federal government when applying for a U.S. passport;

  • May not be accepted by other federal agencies; and

  • May not be accepted by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, depending on year of birth

The state has a process to apply for a verified replacement.

  • 1
    This is interesting - the whole County has been branded untrustworthy following a fraud scandal! Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 5:56

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