I'll make this as short as possible.

Feds want proof of identity. I have a copy of my birth certificate. They want photocopies mailed to them. Birth certificate states that any reproduction of it is a felony. Is it a felony to send it to them then?

  • 2
    Where is your birth certificate from? – feetwet Mar 31 '16 at 20:04

Wisconsin has a relevant provision in chapter 69.24, which makes copying a felony if the copy "purports to be, or carries the appearance of, an original or a copy of a vital record, certified or uncertified" (I assume you are not 110 years old). There are escape hatches involving copies marked "not for official use", which would be pointless to use. My experience is that the feds do want official certified copies if they are asking for proof of identity. Washington likewise (RCW 70.58.082) says that "No person may prepare or issue any vital record that purports to be an original, certified copy, or copy of a vital record except as authorized in this chapter", and you making a copy at the local copy shop is not on the authorized list. If you make a copy, then the copy purports to be a copy, and that is what is forbidden. Therefore I think it is fair to conclude that it is indeed against the law (a misdemeanor in Washington, a felony in Wisconsin, so I guess you're not in Washington).


If you are using the copy for official government purposes, it is fine to scan or copy it. Most people don't know that U.S. Government ID credentials may not be copied (18 USC 701), however, there is an exception that if the credentials are being copied for official government business. I would suspect that the same rationale could be applied to copying of credentials such as birth certificates. The key is that they are not being copied for any fraudulent purposes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.