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Certification is the issuance by the Civil Registrar of a legal document certifying a birth or death.


An important function of Civil Registrars is the issuing of registration certificates for legal, administrative and other purposes. Once a vital event has been registered, it is important that the registrar issues a legal document to prove the event took place. This is usually in the form of a birth or death certificate.

The civil registration law should specify how copies should be issued and who may obtain them. Most, but not all, countries have restrictions on who may obtain copies of records. The civil registration law should specify who is authorised to obtain each type of vital record.

Certified copies of vital records may be issued as full images of the original record or they may just contain excerpts from the original record. Often, if statistical information is collected along with the legal information, the statistical information is not shown on the certified copy. Certified copies may be produced by handwriting or typing information on another form, making copies from microfilm, using a photocopier, or creating a copy from information on a computer file. For prevention against fraud, many countries use special safety paper so that altering copies is difficult. Generally, the certified copy will also contain a certification statement that has a seal and/or signature of the Registrar General or local registrar who issued the copy. 

Read more

National Centre for Health Statistics, International Statistics Program (2015). Training course on civil registration and vital statistics systems, participant’s notes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system, revision 3, United Nations, New York.

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