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September 16: birth certificates

On this day in Pen Pal, Em learns that the people born on dry land are given certificates to commemorate that fact . . . and for other, more weighty purposes. Everyone who's ever needed to establish their identity knows how crucial a birth certificate can be.

They can be elegant--here's some fancy lettering on a Massachusetts birth certificate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.04.34 AM-Sep 16, 2014

Here is the top of a Japanese birth certificate:

birth certificate 2

And here is the top of an English birth certificate:

birth certificate 3

If you're a US citizen and you have a baby overseas, your child is entitled to US citizenship. But you need to get a consular report of birth abroad--here's what the top of one of those looks like:

consular report of birth abroad


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2014 02:50 pm (UTC)
I've got one of those at the bottom! Signed by George Schultz when I was in my late teens, because my real birth certificate was written longhand with fountain pen on foolscap in Greek, and my folks thought I might have some trouble getting a driver's license with it.
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)
I suspect your folks were right--otherwise people would be trying to pass off their Greek shopping lists as birth certificates. (But I bet your Greek one looked elegant.)
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:25 pm (UTC)
No, it looks more like a drycleaning order. There's also a tax stamp on it.
Sep. 16th, 2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
Those are fascinating!
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
They make a nice collection :-)
Sep. 16th, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC)
It's so cool to see the difference in birth certificates from one area to another.

My birth certificate is so old that it's a microfiche copy.
Sep. 16th, 2014 11:17 pm (UTC)
Ooh, microfiche is cool!

And it's kind of like you're a spy or something. *grins*
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
Shhhhh! If you figure it out she might have to kill you
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC)
Would they print you out a paper copy--or could you print out a paper copy--if you wanted?
Sep. 16th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC)
If anyone saw the film Highlander or some modern spy movies it is still possible to obtain a copy of a birth certificate of someone who died as a child. As you say it's necessary or crucial to have one to establish identity. But of itself it doesn't prove anything other than you applied for a copy of a certificate and nobody else has made a conflicting claim. Part of tier 1 outreach workers (i was tier II drug and alcohol) was they'd assist a street homeless chap in getting a birth certificate. With that they could go on to get a passport or benefits or just help get back their identity. I am not sure how well it would work these days if you were an immortal and had to rely on the birth certificates of dead infants every 50 years or so. The main problem would be the lack of activity. I haven't placed all that much thought into it but you could explain no records of schools and colleges because you were homeschooled and maybe no tax or work records because you joined a contemplative monastic community and then at age 50 you leave. If you picked a monastery that had subsequently closed down because of lack of numbers it might be difficult to trace but not impossible. But once you have a birth certificate you can get an NI no with an NI no and birth certificate you can get a passport, if it's a european country you can travel to another one settle down on the false name. With a British NI no and Passport the Irish are really easy going they'd give you a PPS no once you have a PPS no you can buy property in Ireland and if you have property they give you a bank account and voting rights. Just saying it could be done and all off the back of a dead child. Last time I checked since the birth certificate is the thing you need to prove identity there is no actual proof that you have to have before you apply for one, just watched first episode of the originals on netflix. Maybe I should go back to learning japanese Hiragana. It's probably against the law mind taking a dead infant's identity and I certainly am not encouraging people to do this. But it's one of those things that I don't think you need to be an expert or have loads of money and know some Georgian Mafia forger's private contact details. Hmm.
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:11 am (UTC)
I love your train of thought about an immortal and how he could make it work--I think you've probably got this worked out better than, say, Stephanie Meyer did with her immortal cute-boy vampire in Twilight (but I don't know for sure; I haven't read it--maybe she did have it worked out).

And yeah, I think the thing about getting a birth certificate of a dead baby would definitely still work today for ordinary identity forging--and if you were willing to put in the work at town records offices, you could do it all without touching that dangerous place, the Deep Web (where I guess you can find shady characters who will do all that legwork for you).
Sep. 17th, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
Ah we are clearly into different genres. I think the dark web includes blogs that are not advertised on google and sites that get abandoned unsifted unreferenced gigo. Without an index the dark web is more like a metaphor for the collective unconscious or the monsters of the Id or a rubbish tip. I remember watching a political intrigue thing on Netflix and the downside of the shady character thing is you end up thinking you're talking to a radical but he's just a midlevel government spook. In South India mind you don't need to know a criminal to get a false passport. They got to be so common I think you just got a fine and a slap on the wrist if you were found with an extra passport.

But back to the thing, although births deaths and marriages are kept in the same registry in England & Wales they don't match them up. For every death check for a birth and take it off the live register, like double entry book-keeping. So when asking for a birth certificate you have to provide other info like mother's maiden name, where you were born date etc. I know it's not straightforward because an Irish acquaintance had asked me for help locating his birth mother. I don't know if you ever read the book or saw the film Philomena. Records from Magdalene Homes are now sealed. So you can't access them unless you are part of the system and those workers have precise rules. But they will give something like non-identifiable info out to you if you were adopted. From that you can chase up a lot of records but it is a lot more difficult than I thought. A lot of parish records are not digitized or kept in a form that you can do quick searches on. In the case of Philomena the church people just lied and a lot of the church groups will refer to a fire that burnt records. Lot harder to get rid of grave stones. Poysonally I would avoid England and Wales and go with Scotland. And I would visit grave yards. If you are going to take up a dead child's identity you should show some respect. The Scots help out with maiden names too. Often the middle name of a dead infant is his mother's maiden name. And I would have more than one just in case you needed to change it quickly. It's a big world mind. If you left people alone and didn't cause any trouble I don't think anyone bothers about tying up loose ends. Too many actual trouble makers out there.

So this chap had asked me for help coz I've got nothing to do all day. But what he managed to find out was quite sad. Only half a story. you never really hear what choices his mother had, why she made them, only reports of censored letters are provided. I guess he wanted to know why she gave him up. Anyway horrific what we used to do to young mothers. Trying to work out how a vampyre would get a National insurance quite interesting to look into. But trying to find out records of an actual birth mother especially in ireland or in those countries that decided to help tribals by taking them away from their communities and making them more civilized that's far more horrifying macabre and interesting than any vampyre tale. And I am pretty sure the twilight films were about sex fantasies of young american teenage girls. All foreplay no orgasm, the complete opposite of an action film.
Sep. 16th, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
Everyone who's ever needed to establish their identity knows how crucial a birth certificate can be.

I believe mine has my newborn footprint in ink at the bottom of it. Which makes sense; it's not like I could sign to confirm my identity at the time.
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:12 am (UTC)
I think my sister's birth certificate had that! Such a cute thing to do. Mine did not--in fact, looking at my birth certificate just now, I found that it was issued a full four years after I was born. What the heck, parents!
Sep. 16th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
In NSW (and I guess in a lot of other places), you can also pay for an extra-colourful "commemorative" birth certificate. I assume they're still legal documents.
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
And if you pay extra-extra, maybe you can get a holographic one with a foil backing?
Sep. 16th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
Those are really interesting. It would be neat to see an array of similar documentation from around the world.

A few years ago, before I started working there, a woman came to the archives at my campus to get her parents immigration papers. She was 92, her parents were from Italy, and she had no birth certificate. She wanted to go to Italy to see family and the USA wouldn't recognize her citizenship or give her a passport. Can you imagine?

The archives had her father's immigration papers and the archivist contacted the state department herself to get things worked out. She got to go to Italy!
Sep. 17th, 2014 02:13 am (UTC)
I would **totally** believe it--I remember the trouble a friend of mine had when there was a spelling error on her birth certificate. I'm glad that woman got to go to Italy in the end!
Sep. 17th, 2014 05:01 am (UTC)
Not just the certificates, but the comments make really interesting reading! :) (I especially love the tips for immortals and the 92-year-old intercontinental traveller. :) )
Sep. 18th, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC)
I agree about both those stories!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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