Just got our passports and we did use a certified copy of birth certificate that was issued in VA. The orginal birth cert. were printed on the black paper that was used in 1951 and 1953...oops..I'm telling my age, and you really couldn't make out the info. When we went on our first cruise in 1998 I had ordered the certified copies for husband and myself and had used this for cruise in '98 and then again year before last. We had no problems. Since new regulations were going into effect requiring passports we applied for ours the last Saturday in Nov. and just got them last weekend. So it took about 7 weeks, but of course, Christmas and New Years fell within that time period. You do get the orginal birth cert back with the new passport. It is delivered in a Priority Mail envelope, you do not have to sign for it, it was just left in our rural post office box. Each person that applies receives a separate envelope.