I am planning my first cruise next March on the Paradise. My question is on what is an acceptable birth certificate. I have a copy of a "Certificate of Live Birth" from the District of Columbia Department of Human Services. It does not have a raised seal, but does have a stamp that says "D. C. Dept. of Public Health, Vital Records Division" and is dated 10 days, 4 hours and 7 minutes after my birth. The paper is 7" x 8.5" It is oviously a photocopy, but according to my Mom, it is the only one she received, except for a birth announcement issued by the hospital which is now lost. It is my understanding that they are now accepting rubber stamped seals in lieu of raised seals on official documents. I am wondering if I should write the District of Columbia government to get one with a raised seal, apply for a passport since that will make the birth certificate issue mute, or take my chances that it is acceptable.
Today the best ID is a passport, after that it would be the birth certificate WITH the raised seal. Yours should be very easy to get since you were born in the US. Call the Dept. of Vital Statistics for your area and they will give you all the information you need. I believe the cost is about $5.00 or so. Even if you do apply for a passport, you still need the correct birth certificate and the cost is so low to get the correct one and you have plenty of time. Do not take a chance!! March is still months away, and if you do apply for a passport some post offices will do that now also - just get the pics taken first, download the form the web and DO NOT SIGN it until you are there.
Tom and all,
This bit about the 'raised' seal i somewhat overrated IMHO. My wife and the kids all have birth certificates from the State of South Carolina and that state does not have 'raised seals'. My wife even used her's to obtain her passport and it was sufficient. It 'should' be accepted but to be on the safe side as well as just because it is so worthwhile, get a passport. You have plenty of time and it is by far the easiest and best way to positively ID yourself and is accepted world-wide by itself without any additional ID. You will not regret obtaining a passport.
We just traveled the Caribbean with birth certificates and had no problems. We just wrote to the states. Got husband's from Florida in about 2 weeks. Took about a month to get mine from Indiana. Indiana has a raised seal. Florida does not, but it has watermarks and a colored seal so they can tell it is authentic. I would not chance a copy. It says only certified copies with the seal are acceptable. I think you are better off to get a new one.
We had to go through a immigration inspection before leaving the ship, and they had no problem with our certificates.
My travel agent said, yes passports are great, but for our ports not neccessary. It would have been about $130 for the two of us to get them, and as the ta said it would, that money went for other things onboard.
Again, the passport is great to have. I prefer to take both the passport and the birth certificate with the raised seal and drivers license when traveling. Especially going to foreign countries.
My boyfriend just applied for his passport and it costed him $70 -- $45 for the passport, a $15 processing fee (may vary depending on where you apply) and $10 to have the photos taken at the passport office. Not all passport offices have that. It was very easy. We printed the application from the internet (see Donna's link above), filled it out took it to the passport office. It didn't even take 10 minutes at the passport office. It should arrive within 4-6 weeks.
But you should get a new birth certificate just to make sure. You could try calling a travel agent in DC and asking where he advises his customers to get birth certificates. You can also search DC's government sites to find out how to order one. $5 sounds typical. It might be a good idea to get a couple.
Didn't know that some offices can do the pics right there, thats great and a time saver, thanks for that bit of info. Will be curious to hear how long it will take for you boyfriends passport to come, have heard that its still a relatively short time period.
The passport office I went to was at the Court House building in Pittsburgh PA. I wouldn't be surprised if more offices start offering that service, afterall, it's an easy money maker. I'll post a message when the passport comes in.
Believe it or not it just came today. It only took 10 days. If you want it fast, you can pay more but we didn't. So I didn't expect it that fast. On the passport websites, it says 6 weeks, at the passport office they said 4 weeks. Now all we need is our cruise documents, Woo Hoo!!!