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What is a long form birth certificate?

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Quick Answer

A long-form birth certificate is a vital record written on legal-sized paper or multiple pages. The certificate includes details on the birth of a child, including the place and date of birth, parents’ names and a signature with stamp of the issuing agency.

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Americans need the long-form birth certificate when performing overseas transactions such as adopting a child from a foreign country, applying for dual citizenship, marrying on foreign soil and buying real estate in another country. A passport application in the United States requires as primary evidence of citizenship a birth certificate that includes the full names of the applicant’s parents. In Tennessee, short-form birth certificates issued prior to 1976 don't include information about the parents, making it necessary to obtain the long-form birth certificate for a passport application.

Birth certificates are important forms of identification that are sometimes required for job applications, school attendance and driver's licenses or in obtaining other forms of government identification. The federal government doesn't directly provide birth certificates or other vital records. Birth certificates and certified copies can be obtained from the state or U.S. territory where the birth was registered. Certified copies bear unique embossed, raised or impressed seals for authentication purposes.

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