How to get a birth certificate in College Station, Bryan — and everywhere else in Texas

Link to Spanish Language Version

By Yvette Dela Torre, Deputy Local Registrar

In recent weeks, incomplete information has circulated about local registrars in our area refusing to issue birth certificates to recent immigrants.

To legally obtain a birth certificate, all applicants — residents, legal immigrants, and those here illegally — must provide appropriate documentation. Along with every other local registrar’s office in Texas, the Cities of College Station and Bryan follow the rules and laws determined by the state. 

No one is exempt. 

Perhaps more than most, I understand the struggles and frustrations of those lacking the proper documents, especially our Hispanic customers. Like many of them, my father came to the United States illegally to help support his family. 

His journey was filled with countless struggles and denials, but thankfully, my mother was an American citizen, which enabled my father to gain legal status eventually.

Still, it was easier to establish residency and citizenship 40 years ago, and that’s why I’m dedicated to helping parents obtain birth certificates for their children. I recognize the difficulties they face and the frustrations that come with being an undocumented immigrant, so our office provides all our forms and information in English and Spanish. 

Unfortunately, immigrants rarely have a U.S. visa and a passport from their country of birth. In most cases, the only document they possess is an insufficient foreign passport. 

So, what can we do?

If they had prenatal CHIP and still have the card, we can pair that with two supporting documents such as current bills that display their names and addresses. If they don’t have a prenatal CHIP card, we work down a list of accepted government-issued documents.

For example, forms such as the I-94 have an admission record number that proves legal visitor status, which we can accept with a valid foreign passport. 

Bear in mind that in our office, being undocumented doesn’t necessarily mean someone is here illegally. Anyone unable to provide proper identification or documents is considered undocumented for vital records purposes. 

For example, Jane Smith is undocumented if she lacks a driver license or social security card and has no health insurance or bills in her name. In that case, she would be a properly qualified applicant without acceptable identification. 

Situations like that occur every day in our office.

For your convenience, here are the applicable portions from the Health & Safety Code, Texas Administrative Code, and the Local Registrar Handbook issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services:

Per HSC §191.051(a) the registrar shall issue to a properly qualified applicant a certified copy of a birth, death, or fetal death record.

Any person wishing to request a vital record must be a properly qualified applicant, complete an application and present identification that meets the requirements of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Section. A properly qualified applicant is the registrant, immediate family member, guardian, or legal agent or representative.

 

APPLICATION

VSS requires that all Local Registrar offices issuing vital records utilize a written application for persons requesting copies of records. The application or letter completely identifies the requested record and provides the requestor’s relationship and purpose for obtaining the record. The application becomes proof of issuance, documents the request under the Public Information Act, and provides an audit trail for fees and document security numbers.

At a minimum the application for a certified copy of a birth or death record should include the following:

Registrant’s name

Registrant’s date of birth and/or death

Registrant’s sex

Registrant’s place of birth and/or death

Registrant’s full name of father and mother, including mother’s maiden name

Applicant’s name, address and telephone number

Applicant’s relationship to the registrant *25 TAC§181.1(22)(17)+

Applicant’s purpose for requesting the record

Applicant’s signature and date requested

Applicant’s type of identification supplied and identification number *25 TAC§181.1(13)+

The following statement preprinted on the form immediately above or below the signature line: Warning: The penalty for knowingly making a false statement in this form can be 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly makes a false statement or directs another person to make a false statement in an application for a certified copy of vital records. [HSC§195.003(a-4)]

PROPERLY QUALIFIED APPLICANT

An immediate family member is defined as:

Self

Father (when listed on the record; if not listed, has a court order stating he is the father)

Mother

Grandfather

Grandmother

Brother

Sister

Husband

Wife

Legal Guardian ( a copy of the legal guardianship papers is required as proof)

Legal Representative (document from the qualified applicant needed)

25 TAC §181.1(13)(16)(21)(22) further defines the properly qualified applicant.

FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION

All applicants for certificates must present proof of identity satisfactory to the department. All documents must be verifiable. There are three categories of documents that may be presented to establish proof of identity. A copy will be made of the identification and retained with the certificate order. While the authenticity of the identification presented by the customer is to be determined by the processor and the department, the following rules regarding acceptable identification must be followed:

Primary identification – These items are complete within themselves and require no supporting instruments. All of these may not be expired for more than 90 days and must include a photo.

Secondary identification – In the absence of a primary form of identification, the secondary identification serves to establish identity; however, the customer is required to produce either two pieces of secondary identification of different types, or one piece of secondary identification plus two pieces of support identification of different types. The secondary identification is classified as government issued documents, documents that require identification to establish, or documents that contain biometric identifiers. Consular Certification documents from El Salvador and Honduras are accepted as foreign identification with identifiable photo of applicant. The Honduran matricula consular, also known as the Honduran consular ID, is not accepted.

Supporting identification – These items consist of other records or documents that aid examining personnel in establishing the identity of the applicant. The following items are not all inclusive. The examining or supervisory personnel may determine that an unlisted document meets the department’s needs in establishing identity.

Every applicant must present:

(A) One piece of primary identification, or

(B) Two pieces of secondary identification of different types, or

(C)  One piece of secondary identification plus two pieces of supporting identification of different types.

25 TAC §181.28(i) lists the instructions and requirements for a properly qualified applicant.

Our office does not accept the Matricula Consular as an independent form of valid identification because:

The Mexican consulate that issues the Matricula Consular does not authenticate the documents used to obtain it.  The issuing consulate does not verify the source documents.

The issuing consulate does not compare the documents to computerized data files administered by the government of the United Mexican States.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service do not recognize the Matricula Consular as proper identification.

According to testimony before the U.S. Congress, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of investigation have concluded that the Martricula Consular is not a reliable form of identification.

After a survey of the states, DSHS/VSS has found only three that accept the Martricula Consular for this purpose.

The Matricula Consular is issued on the day it is requested, with visual inspection of supporting documents presented by the 47 Mexican consulates, but no independent verification of the identity of the requestor.

It is the conclusion of DSHS / VSS that the Martricula Consular identity cards are not secure enough to meet the standards that this agency requires under the authority vested in it by the statutes of the State of Texas and the administrative rules adopted to implement them. Therefore, DSHS / VSS cannot accept the Matricula Consular as verification of identity for the purchase of birth certificates or for obtaining confidential records.

Insufficient ID

If the applicant does not have an acceptable ID, an alternative would be to have an immediate family member become the applicant and present their ID.

I hope this information clarifies any confusion about obtaining vital records. 

I want our Hispanic community to know I’m here to help. Please Let me know if you have questions or need additional information, I can be reached at 979-764-5016 or ytorre@cstx.gov

<strong><em><span class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</span></em></strong>
About the Blogger


Yvette Dela Torre is in her 11th year with the City of College Station and her seventh as deputy local registrar. Master registrar certified, Yvette has received the Five Star Exemplary Award six times from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

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