The Role of Public Birth Records in Identity Verification

In the past, birth certificates were used as proof of identity. However, these wallet-size documents did not have all the information needed for verification.

EVVE allows authorized users to verify the information on a paper-certified copy of a birth or death certificate by matching it against national records. This is done quickly and accurately.

The Birth Certificate

The birth certificate is the primary document certifying your legal identity. It establishes who you are and is the basis for most government-issued documents, like your driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, and employment eligibility.

Each country has its process for registering births. The basic standard in the United States is a Certificate of Live Birth that looks more like an application than a record and requests a lot of precise bits of information, including racial and ethnic info on Mom and Dad, whether you were born in a hospital or home, if you have any severe health conditions, and so on.

Most birth records genealogy are public documents and, therefore, accessible to anyone willing to pay a fee or provide a justification. Since there is no picture or biometric identifier on a birth certificate, it is easy for someone to claim that they are the person listed on the document.

The events of 9/11 and escalating ID fraud have raised awareness of the need for better identity verification based on public birth certificates. Still, current systems need to be designed to protect national security. Most birth records are not available online, and the time it takes for a municipality to process an order can be lengthy. The New York City Health Department offers a quick service through VitalChek for a fee.

The Death Certificate

The Death Certificate is an official document stating a person’s time, place, and cause of death. It is often necessary for legal and administrative purposes such as closing the deceased’s estate, applying for social security benefits, or transferring property ownership. The government also uses it to keep track of vital statistics on the population. Typically, only immediate family members or the legal representative of an immediate family member are authorized to obtain a certified copy of a Death Certificate.

The certifying physician’s medical opinion on the causes of death is of immense medical and legal significance. Therefore, he needs to fill up the certificate correctly. However, it is common for even a medical officer with incomparable expertise and professional knowledge to miss out on some details while filling up the medical portion of the certificate.

The death certificate is the source of state and national mortality statistics, critical for measuring health status at local, regional, national, and international levels and setting public health goals and policies. These statistics also determine which medical conditions receive research and development funding.

The Marriage Certificate

A marriage certificate is a government and public document that proves a legal union. It is often required for passports and visa applications, establishing citizenship, and employment purposes.

Like birth and death certificates, the general public often access marriage documents without restriction. They typically include the date and place of marriage, full names, ages (usually up to age 20 or 30, depending on the jurisdiction), and the name of the witnesses.

Like other vital records, marriage certificates can also be used to verify an individual’s identity and provide links between different sources of evidence. Often, if a person has changed their name multiple times, marriage certificates will be required to link these various documents together.

Most jurisdictions print Marriage Certificates on 8 1/2 inch by 11 inches light blue colored safety paper. There are two types: a “short certificate” and an “extended certificate.” The only difference between the two is that extended certificates contain additional information such as parents’ countries of origin, the name and title of the Officiant, and the place where the marriage ceremony was conducted.

The most important thing to remember when requesting a marriage certificate is that it is an official government and public record so anyone can access it. While there may be fees or a requirement to submit a justification, these requirements are typically less stringent than those for accessing other vital records.

The Adoption Certificate

Many people who are not parents but are hoping to adopt a child may be required to produce a certificate. This document shows the date of adoption, which the reason and the identity of the adopting party may accompany. The information in this document must be as accurate as possible. In addition, the information should not be able to be easily duplicated or stolen. The information on this certificate can be verified by comparing it to a death or birth record filed with the same jurisdiction.

While many governments have granted adopted adults access to their original birth certificates, this remains controversial. Those who oppose this policy fear that giving such people access to the information on their original birth certificate violates confidentiality promises to their biological relatives.

In New York, an adopted person who has been granted a certified copy of their pre-adoption birth certificate and who has made a reasonable effort to contact their biological parent or siblings may request identifying information that would typically appear on the original birth certificate. In addition, the commissioner of health shall develop an adoption information registry birth parent registration form that will be provided to each biological parent at the time of surrender or consent to adoption and which, when completed by the biological parent or parents, will indicate whether the parent or parents agree to the receipt of identifying information.

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