BASIC (08-05)

GN 00312.001 Sources of Vital Statistics Records in Foreign Countries

A. Introduction

It is for use in advising claimants, who are not residing in the country in which the event occurred, where to write for certifications of vital statistics records. It shows the costs and sources of vital statistics records outside the U.S. for those countries shown as “yes” or “unknown” in GN 00307.190 for evidence of age. The addresses are informational only and cannot be kept up to date with absolute accuracy, nor can they take into account local practices which may cause exceptions.

SSA assumes that claimants living in the country in which the event occurred will know how to obtain the appropriate records.

Although some foreign authorities issue documents without charge, most authorities charge a fee. Fees can vary to cover separate charges for searches or other items such as revenue stamps.

Where known, the cost is shown in foreign currency. Generally, the U.S. currency equivalent is not shown because currency fluctuations make this information unreliable.

B. Procedure

1. Requests for Documents General

Provide full information about the date and place of the event, and the parties involved to ensure the custodian of the record locates the correct registration promptly.

See GN 00312.010 through GN 00312.450 for information on where to write and any special information about requests to the country involved.

In addition to any other information required in these sections, requests for birth certificates must include the claimant's:

  1. Name at birth (both the English and the foreign-language versions);

  2. Full date of birth (to avoid any misunderstandings spell out the month of birth);

  3. Place of birth (town/village/city and province or state);

    If the claimant was born in a large city, show the district in which he/she was born or the address of the claimant's parents at the time of his/her birth. Large cities such as Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Mexico City, Warsaw, etc. maintain their records by district or parish and it is extremely difficult to locate the record without this information.

  4. Parents' full names at the time of the birth.

    Be sure to show the full double surnames (as explained in GN 00307.160) of all parties when requesting evidence from a Spanish-speaking country.

    Suggest the request be sent by airmail.

    NOTE: Unless prohibited in the following sections, an international reply coupon can be enclosed with the claimant's letter. This coupon serves as postage from foreign countries and ensures postage by surface mail for one unit of mail (usually one ounce or a fraction). If airmail delivery is desired, additional coupons can be purchased. Information on the cost of airmail from any foreign country may be obtained from any post office.

2. Document Costs

If the cost of a record is not known, advise the claimant that his or her first letter must state the pertinent facts and ask for all charges.

If the cost of the document is shown in foreign currency and the U.S. currency equivalent is not shown, ascertain the current exchange rate and compute the cost. Exchange rates for most foreign currencies may be obtained from:

  • The foreign department of local banks, or

  • Internet currency conversion sites; or

  • Other sources which use data from a Treasury Department or Federal Reserve publication on official exchange rates as a basis for their data.

When the correct fee is known, pay this amount using the instrument required in the section for that country. If the method of payment is not specified, use:

  • An international postal money order (available in all first-class post offices and some other post offices);

    EXCEPTIONS: International postal money orders are not acceptable in Bulgaria, Jordan, Portugal and Spain.

  • A foreign draft; or

  • A commercial money order if the registrar is located in a town that is accessible to an office of the company that issued the order.

Advise the claimant to avoid underpayment. To ensure the payment is adequate, the claimant should raise the fee amount to the next higher dollar amount (e.g., $4.32 would be raised to $5.00). This will normally be enough to pay for increased fees, further currency fluctuations, additional charges, postage, etc.

3. Requests Made Through U.S. Foreign Service Posts (FSPs)