Ministry of Health
Frequently Asked Questions - Birth
British Columbia's New Birth Certificate Information
What is new about this design?
The new design also contains certain forensic features that assist authorities in determining the validity of the document
A Guide to British Columbia's new Birth Certificate:
- The new certificate is 125 mm wide by 176 mm high.
- It is designed to discourage people from carrying it in their wallet or purse (thousands of certificates are reported lost or stolen every month).
- The stock for the new document is high security polymer (plastic).
- The certificate has:
- Two transparent windows — one with a colour shifting property and one with three floating maple leaves;
- Unique watermark/shadow features — maple leaves; Canada geese;
- Thread feature containing the word “CANADA” repeated;
- Tactile printing similar to that found on Canadian currency;
- Colour shifting window with the word “CANADA” in three waves below the clear window containing the maple leaves (purple/green); and
- Contains the provincial/territorial coat of arms in colour with the jurisdiction's seal and a signature.
What should you do in the event your birth certificate is lost or stolen?
- You may complete a Declaration of Lost or Stolen Birth Certificate form. The filing of this Declaration provides the authority for the cancellation of a certificate under Section 40.1 (2) (c) of the Vital Statistics Act. This service is provided free of charge.
- It is important to note the use of a lost or stolen birth certificate by another individual cannot be prevented by the Vital Statistics Agency. However, Vital Statistics does electronically verify birth certificate information with programs such as ICBC. In the event a verification request is received, Vital Statistics will notify them the certificate is invalid.
- You may also wish to contact the local police to report your lost certificate in the event it has been turned in, or if you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft. Contact RCMP PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501.
Should British Columbians who have older, B.C-issued birth certificates be concerned about identify fraud or identity theft?
- Birth certificates are a foundation identity document for British Columbians and we should all be vigilant about protecting ourselves against identity fraud and identity theft.
- British Columbians should ensure that birth certificates are kept in a safe location at all times and they should not carry their birth certificate in a wallet or purse for use as general identification.
- It is recommended that you retain a photocopy of your birth certificate in the event it is lost or stolen so that you may report the certificate number and issue date to our Agency.
- Although there is no requirement to do so at this time, British Columbians may order a new format birth certificate for themselves or their children.
You indicate that existing birth certificates will remain valid for the foreseeable future. What does this mean? Are there plans to make existing birth certificates invalid at some point?
- At this point there are no plans to require British Columbians to replace their existing birth certificates.
- While the old certificates will not be invalidated, in some instances, where identity security is of utmost importance, citizens may be asked by other agencies to provide the new more secure document as proof of identity or citizenship. We will be educating our stakeholders about the security features and benefits of the new design.
If British Columbians bring in their existing birth certificate to Vital Statistics, can they get a new one free of charge?
- Pre-2008 certificates will not be replaced free of charge.
- Vital Statistics organizations will continue to charge the birth certificate fee for the new certificate.
- The fees are required to cover the costs for production and issuance of the new document and will remain at $27.00, or $60.00 for expedited service.
Can individuals born in other provinces get the new secure birth certificates?
- You must apply for your birth certificate from your province of birth. Seven Canadian provinces British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have adopted the new certificate format.
- It is anticipated that the remainder of the Provinces and Territories will also adopt the new certificate in the near future.
Why does the new birth certificate refer to parent rather than mother or father?
- As a result of a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal decision in 2001, a birth registration form must accommodate the registration of both opposite sex and same sex parents.
- A birth certificate is a legal extract of the information recorded on the birth registration form and therefore must reflect information in a non-discriminatory manner.
How much will the introduction of this new certificate cost B.C. taxpayers?
- The Vital Statistics Agency is a full cost recovery program and as such is responsible for recovering its costs of operation through fees for its services.
- The funding for the new certificate will come from the Vital Statistics Agency's revenue.
- There is no additional cost to taxpayers and the charge to British Columbians for birth certificates will remain unchanged at $27 for a regular service and $60.00 for expedited processing.
General Birth Certificate Information
I ordered two certificates. Why did I receive only one certificate?
- If you order both individual and parental certificates, these will likely be mailed
separately. Typically, you will receive the individual certificate
followed by the parental certificate a few days later.