Will US consulates accept a birth certificate for my child if the birth certificate format is revised by law, but my child has an older format of birth certificate?

It turns out every decade the format for birth certificate changes.Thus I wonder if we (non-US citizen parents not residing in US ) can renew our US citizen's child's passport at US embassy, if birth certificate we have belongs to an older format ?

2 Answers 2


Birth certificate format is determined by state (or territory) law, so there are more than 50 formats at any one time. If any state or territory changes its format every ten years, or on any other schedule, it is to combat fraud. The important factor is whether the format is correct given the purported date of issue, not whether it is the same format that is currently being used. This is the same as with the paper money issued by the federal reserve: it remains valid forever.

Another thing to think about: if the point of the changing design was to limit the validity of individual documents, it's not a very good way to do that. The proper way to achieve that end is to provide the document with an expiration date. Birth certificates don't generally have expiration dates.

The only questions asked by the consulate will be whether it is genuine, possibly including the question of whether it's the correct form for the date of issue (if they have a way of finding that information), and whether it is signed by the right person.

  • Why is a birth certificate needed at all when a passport has been previously issued and is presented with the renewal application? Is this different for underage children? Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 7:50
  • This page says that the renewal for those under 16 must be done in person, but an expired passport may be used as ID. Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 2:40

As @phoog stated, a change in format does not matter as long as the certificate contains the required information, and is genuine. The only exception I've heard of is Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010; Puerto Rico has required replacement of these due to security lapses with the older certificate.

Over the years states have offered certificates with varying amount of information, everything from every bit of information they have on file to a really short certificate. Sometimes the really short ones cost less than the longer ones.

The information the US State Department currently requires is

  • Lists applicant’s full name, date of birth, and place of birth
  • Lists parent(s)’ full names
  • Has the signature of the city, county, or state registrar
  • Has the date filed with registrar's office (must be within one year of birth)
  • Has the seal of issuing authority

I don't know exactly what the State Department counts as a full name, but in the US, when dealing with state and local government, I have often been able to list just my first and last name when a form required a "full name".

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