Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 19, 2017

Residents can get new birth certificates

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Feb 24, 2017

The Jefferson County Recorder’s office is participating in a program that allows residents to exchange their small birth certificates for larger ones.

A press release from the Iowa Department of Public Health said the “wallet sized” birth certificates issued from 1993-2009 did not contain enough vital information to be used for identification purposes, “essentially making them useless documents for the purpose they are intended to be used for.”

Residents who received a small birth certificate between those years can get a larger one for free if they bring their small certificate to the Jefferson County Recorder’s Office.

Jefferson County Recorder Kelly Spees said people who were born in another county might have to request a new birth certificate from the county of their birth depending on when they were born.

“For those records in other Iowa counties between the years of 2007-to current we are able to obtain most statewide birth records to help assist in this exchange,” Spees said. “We also have the exchange paperwork necessary to request a mailing to the state office.”

The birth certificate wallet card was printed as a perforated attachment to a larger document during those years. The wallet card measures 2 5/8 inches by 4 inches. The entire document parents received measures 3.5 inches by 8 inches.

The newborn birth cards may be exchanged by mail or in person with the Bureau of Health Statistics, 321 E. 12th St. Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines Iowa 50319.

To expedite the exchange of birth certificates, residents are asked to download the application for “Certified Copy of Iowa Vital Record” from the health department’s website at www.idph.iowa.gov. They should print the document that says “Application for Copy of Birth Certificate.”

They should complete the application, with a notarized signature, and return it with a copy of their driver’s license and original birth certificate wallet card in person or by mail.

The Iowa Department of Public Health wrote in its release that, due to the large number of certificates needing to be replaced, applicants should expect to wait four to six weeks to receive the replacement birth certificate via mail. It wrote that in-person requests will be completed in a timely manner and in the order they are received.

Spees said her office will help people fill out the paperwork if they wish to receive a new birth certificate via mail. Not all county recorder’s offices are replacing the birth certificates for free, so residents who were born in another county should check to see if their county is participating in the program.

“We’ve already had someone come in to get the new one,” Spees said. “She needed a birth certificate from before 2006, and she was from a different county, so we gave her the address where she can get it exchanged.”

The exchange program came about under pressure from the Iowa Legislature earlier this week. Spees said the Iowa Department of Public Health had come under criticism for its small wallet-sized birth certificates, and that the department has promised to change them in a timely manner.


[Editor's note: The final paragraph has been updated to reflect the fact that the Iowa Legislature did not pass legislation, but merely threatened to do so if the Iowa Department of Public Health did not fix the problem.]

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