Birth records are the most important documents you can have. With them you can get a social security number, establish residence and citizenship, start a bank account and much more. Without a birth certificate, you have to struggle to prove your identity to the government and other powers that be. If you have lost your birth records, there's always some way to find them.
State Search of Birth Records
Each state keeps records of the births that occur within its boundaries. There are exceptions. For example, New York State keeps all records except New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers. You will want to contact the state of your birth to begin your search.
Documents Required for Birth Certificate
These records generally go back at least 100 years. This means if you are searching for birth records as part of a genealogical search, the states are a good place to begin. Each state has slightly different requirements, but basically you will need some identification, the date and location of the birth, and a letter explaining your request.
Finding your Roots--Adoption Records
Other than wanting your own birth records for personal proof, people search records for genealogy or when trying to track down birth parents. For adoptees, the road to internal quietude can be a long one.
With any luck, they can find their birth parent’s names on original birth records. While the states are supposed to change the certificate, sometimes a particularly understanding clerk will send the true original "by accident" furthering a search.
Recreating the Family Tree
For genealogy, birth records often provide parental names in previous generations that have long been forgotten. You may know your grandmother as "Grandma Ruth" but have no idea what her maiden name was. With a copy of your parent’s birth record, you have a chance of recovering that maiden name.
Reestablishing the Time Line of Ancestry
Particularly when doing a genealogical search it is important to have birth records to establish when things happened. As a prime example, I present my grandmother. We celebrated her 80th birthday for 3 years running. Why? Her original documents went up in flames years ago, she didn’t remember exactly when she was born, just approximately. We wanted to cover all possible bases.
It may seem funny, but it is a remarkably common occurrence for original documents to disappear through fire, flood, or plain carelessness. In some parts of our country and certainly in other countries as well, records were haphazard at best. Eventually when someone dies, the "official" dates are reestablished.
To save yourself the headache of trying to figure out each state’s requirements, your best bet is to use an online search service. Find your birth records quickly. There is no reason this should be difficult. An online vital records search service can access any public database and save you time and effort.