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    How to identify a certified Birth Certificate

    Maryland Birth Certificates and the REAL ID Act

    Over the years, Maryland has mailed out birth registration notices to new parents to let them know that the birth of their child had been officially registered. Usually these notices were clearly labeled as notifications. However, in some years, they looked very similar to certified copies of birth certificates. Additionally, complicating matters, various agencies in the past would accept these birth registration notices as documentation of birth. 

    The Federal REAL ID Act requires that only certified copies of birth certificates (or a current U.S. passport) may be used as documentation of birth to obtain a REAL ID compliant driver’s license. Maryland now requires that new or renewing driver’s licenses be REAL ID compliant. 

    If you are unsure whether you have a valid certified copy of a Maryland birth certificate,  please review the labeling on the document that you have and use the information below to identify whether your document is a registration notice or a certified copy of a birth certificate.

    Defining Characteristics of Maryland Birth Certificates over the last 100 years

    Birth certificates were issued by Baltimore City and the 23 counties from 1918 through 1972. For these years, they would list the local health department at the top of the certificate, rather than State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Beginning in 1973, registration of certificates was centralized at the State level.

    Based on the year of birth and the jurisdiction that issued the certificate, please verify that your document contains the defining term listed in the table below. If it does not, then you will need to request a certified birth certificate. Note that documents containing the term 'Certification of Birth' are NOT birth certificates. These were birth registration notices.


    Years in Effect

    Defining Term to Identify a Certified Birth Certificate

    Baltimore City


    Certificate of Birth

    Baltimore City


    Certificate of Live Birth

    Other Counties


    Certificate of Birth

    Other Counties


    Certificate of Live Birth

    State of Maryland


    Certificate of Live Birth