I was adopted – how can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

The adoption process and the way records are dealt with has changed a lot over the years, as has the terminology that is used around them. This often causes confusion, and the adoption certificate you now require may not be the same as the original document you had. So, is it possible to get a new birth certificate once you have been adopted?

Isn’t my birth certificate and adoption certificate the same thing?

In short, no. Many people believe that, when you have been adopted, a new birth certificate gets produced but this is not actually the case. This confusion likely stems from the fact that in previous years when an adoption occurred, a short form birth certificate was given to the adoptive parents. A short form birth certificate was a document produced at the time of a birth registration and given to parents free of charge; it served mainly as a commemorative souvenir and could not be used for any official purpose. A short form certificate only contains information about the child and lists no parental details.

short form birth certificate - adoption blog
A UK short form birth certificate

Because adoption was considered to be a taboo topic in the past, the short form birth certificate was issued to prevent the adoption from becoming public knowledge and to avoid people asking questions. It also served to protect the adopted child from finding out they were adopted, as well as to allow the adoptive parents to make the decision as to whether or not they wanted to inform their child of the adoption.

Therefore, for an adopted person, the short form birth certificate refers to their adoption record, not a revised birth record as most would assume! Thankfully, attitudes towards adoption have changed dramatically as time has passed so what once was a very hidden and private process is now looked upon much more openly.

In any case, once the adoption has been granted, an adoption certificate is produced, and this legally replaces the original birth record. The biological birth record then becomes more of an historic document and will have an amendment to state that an adoption has occurred so that from that point on it will not be recognised as suitable for any official purpose, such as obtaining a passport, driving licence or job application.

Why can’t I just use my original short form birth certificate for ID?

Your original birth certificate is no longer valid as it doesn’t reflect your legal identity. Even if your first name stayed the same upon your adoption being granted, your surname will likely differ; in any case, your biological birth record is not classed as your legal document anymore.

It doesn’t matter if you were only a few days or months old at the time of your adoption, or if you were adopted by one parent, alongside a biological parent instead of a couple. If an adoption occurred, an adoption record will have been produced. For any official purpose, it’s always best to produce your adoption certificate as this indicates who you legally are!

So what will my adoption certificate show?

In some ways, the adoption certificate is very similar to the birth certificate. Both will reflect the full date of birth and sex of the child. However, the full name listed on the certificate will be the adopted name; depending on the circumstances, the forename may or may not have changed but there will be no reference on the certificate to the original name given at birth.

The country of birth will always be shown; however, it is dependent on the situation whether or not it is broken down into a district and sub-district. If a child born in the United Kingdom has been adopted, district and sub-district will likely be listed; however, if the child was born overseas, it is more than likely that only the country of birth will be present on the document.

adoption certificate
A long form UK adoption certificate

The certificate will also contain details about the adoptive parents, more specifically their names, occupations and the home address. The final pieces of information recorded relate more to the actual adoption process, namely the date the adoption order was officially granted and the name of the court which granted it, as well as the date the adoption record itself was first produced.

The way birth records and adoption records are stored also differs. Birth records are open records, which means they are legally allowed to be transcribed to an electronic database. As a result, we can use our archive preview system to find the reference numbers associated with your birth record and have it issued within ten working days!

However, adoption records are classed as closed records; as you have more than likely guessed, these records are not allowed to be transcribed to an electronic database so we cannot search for them. Therefore, a manual search is required; we submit the request to the archive, they search their records to find the applicable one and then, so long as all the information on the request matches that on the record, the certificate is issued.

As you can imagine, this process can take quite a while, so when an adoption certificate is ordered on our standard service it can take up to 4 weeks for the certificate to be issued.

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Need a certificate in a hurry?

Our priority service means we can obtain adoption certificates (as well as birth, marriage and death certificates) in just three working days!

Can you obtain my original full birth certificate for me?

In theory, we can! However, it is important to remember that you will need to know your name at birth, as well as the names of your birth parents. For some people, these details can be easily provided, but for others it can be close to impossible if that information is not known. We will always do our best to support you in your search!

We’re Here to Help!

Want to order your adoption certificate? Simply fill out the relevant form on our website to place your order. If you have any further questions regarding adoption certificates, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can chat to our team on on our live chat system, chat via WhatsApp, give us a call on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, visit our site at www.vitalcertificates.co.uk or via e-mail at certificates@vitalcertificates.co.uk.

Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Consular. He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

Articles: 21


  1. So does this mean that the adoption certificate is actually the short form birth certificate? Would the adoption record or certificate (actual certificate indicating the adoptive parents names) be available in the general registrar’s records or data base?

    • Hi Marium. A birth and adoption certificate are two separate things and hold different information. An adoption certificate holds no information about the birth, and only about the adoption event. The adoption record is available through the General Register Office, but you can only apply for it if you know the specific details of the certificate. The record is not viewable by the public as it’s a secure record. I hope this helps, if you have further questions lets me know.

      • Hi I’m looking to find my mothers original birth certificate. I know she was adopted so only have the adopted parents on the certificate!!I would like to trace back parentage for medical reasons! Can you help?

        • Hi Karen, thanks for your comment. We may be able to help, but it completely depends on what information you do have available and when your mum was born (the amount of details required to trace a certificate differs dependent on the year!). If you to see if we can help you, just drop our certificates specialists an email at certificates@vitalcertificates.co.uk and we’ll do all we can for you 🙂

          Many thanks, Melanie

          • My birth name is Jung Min Lee and I was born in Inchon, Korea. I have no birth certificate as the hospital was destroyed during the Korean War. I need a passport and both adoptive parents are deceased. Can you help

          • Hey,

            Where were you adopted? If the adoption went through the UK courts, we might be able to help. If you pop us an email on sales@vitalcertificates.co.uk and tell us the full details we’ll let you know if there’s anything we can do – thanks!

          • Hello! Will a Birth certificate be able to tell me someone’s adoptive name ?

          • Hey Victoria,

            Nope, a birth certificate won’t tell you someone’s adoptive name!

      • Hello Melanie
        I’m almost 50 (DOB 30 11 72) and for the first time I’m trying to find my birth and adoption certificate. Very intetested to understand my origin. Quite confusing so wanted to ask you please:

        All I know is my adoptive mum told me when I was in primary school because some kids bullied me saying my parent’s didn’t love me because I was adopted. Assume their parents found out. I had no idea about anything. Never seen any certificate. If my memory is correct all I know are my birthday and apparently born in Hartlepool.

        Adoptive parents Patricia and Keith Hancock. Mum died in 99 and I think dad may now be dead. Unsure.

        Is it possible for me to see my birth and adoption certificates with only this information?

        Thank you in advance.


        • Hey Andrew,

          Thanks for reaching out to us! I’m sorry that’s how you found out you were adopted. Kids can be cruel. We should be able to help you with your adoption certificate, but obviously the birth certificate is a bit more complex. If you drop us an email at sales@vitalcertificates.co.uk we’ll be able to advise you further.

        • I was adopted is it possible to get my live birth certificate long form in my adopted name?

          • Hey Allen,

            As you mentioned ‘live birth’, I’m guessing you’re in the USA? Unfortunately we’re a UK based company so won’t be able to advise you – I’d suggest getting in contact with the office where your birth certificate is held and seeing if they can help. Sorry we can’t do more for you!

  2. I would like a birth certificate form when I was born I was adopted but I don’t know my birth parents names only that I was born Annette Clarke on 14/01961 do you think you can help .

    • Hi Annette, do you happen to know where you were born in terms of area? This would be a great help in narrowing down a record. If you would like to send an email to me at certificates@vitalcertificates.co.uk I can see what I can help with, I hope this helps.


  3. Hi there. I’m adopted. I’m applying for Irish citizenship and they require a ‘long form’ birth certificate which, I assume, means my original birth certificate which is a different name to my ‘short form’ certificate. How do I go about getting hold of my original ‘long form’ certificate and will this affect my application for Irish citizenship…?

  4. Hi Melanie,

    This post mentions that your firm can order original full birth certificates for people who have been adopted. Does this mean the information originally provided to the registrar prior to adoption – i.e. birth mother, father if known, their places of birth, usual address? I thought that Certified copies of an entry (“full” / “long” birth certificates) could only be obtained in their original unredacted form i.e. not ‘compiled’, by the adoptee as part of their birth record info after an interview with a social worker.

    I would be very grateful for any clarification as I have a friend who is adopted and wonder
    what I would receive if I ordered him a Certified Copy of his birth registration from the GRO down the same route I would use to order one for someone who is not adopted.

    Best wishes, Anna

    • Hi Anna,

      Really sorry for the late reply. Yes, provided you have the relevant information, which it sounds like you do, you can request a certified copy of the birth certificate (as it was filed at the time of birth). They’re on public record at the GRO. I hope this helps, and I hope you find what you’re looking for!

      All the best,

  5. (I should add that I have the registration district, year, quarter, volume and page and his mother’s maiden name, and can see his birth name on the GRO index. His adoption was official and the relevant court is known.)

  6. Hi Melanie, I’m in the same boat, looking to get an Irish passport via birth grandparents…
    You say the adoption certificate supercedes the birth certificate…
    Does that mean my claim will be invalid as the citizenship of adopted parents supercedes my blood?!

    • Hi Max, thanks for your question. That’s not the case, no. The adoption certificate supersedes a birth certificate in terms of ID and paperwork. If you’re making a claim based on your heritage, you don’t lose any rights if you’re later adopted. I hope this helps!

  7. Hi, could you assist with getting an adoption certificate where the adoption happened in South Africa? Also the person who was adopted was my grandfather who passed away. This would also be for emigration purposes.

    • Hey Megan,

      Unfortunately not – we can only help with overseas births, and that’s only if they’re registered at the UK Embassy in the country of birth. I’d recommend you get in touch with the British Consulate in South Africa and explain the situation to them. They should be able to advise you. Sorry we can’t help, and I hope you get it all sorted!

    • Hi

      I have a certified copy of an entry in the Adopted children register showing my dob in 1968 my date of adoption date in 1969 date of entry in 1969 but the certificate/copy date of the certified entry is 1996 .
      I am also looking into Irish citizenship will this be a valid certificate?


      • Hey Candy,

        I passed your comment on to Debi, our certificate expert. The 1996 is likely to be the date that that specific certificate was issued. If you email a copy of it over to sales@vitalcertificates.co.uk, she’ll be able to confirm whether that’s the case and whether it’d be considered a valid certificate. Thanks!

  8. Dear Melanie,
    Since my mother passed away in 1992 I have been trying to find her adoption certificate. I can’t even place her birth certificate. Is this something you would be able to help me with or suggest any services that could help me.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Estelle,

      I have passed your question on to our certificates department who will drop you an email to answer your question. I hope this helps!

      Best wishes, Melanie

  9. I am having major difficulty in obtaining a copy of my unabridged original birth certificate even though Child Welfare has provided original notes from my adoption, naming my birth mother and father. I am now 65 and all birth and adoptive parents are deceased but I desperately need to prove who my birth father was in order to obtain a passport in my Italian name which I now use. I need an urgent manual search to be undertaken in order to do this as I have twice paid for official unabridged copies and just been given my adopted names. It is so frustrating…even though I have my birth record reference and case number from Child Welfare.

    • Hi Alfredo,

      I have passed your question on to our certificates department who will drop you an email to answer your question. I hope this helps!

      Best wishes, Melanie

  10. I was adopted in Vienna,Austria,in the 50.i am trying to track down my original birth certificate.it was lost,with luggage,coming from new York city,to Bakersfield California I have been stuck and homeless,for 4 years

    • Hey Marjorie,

      I’m so sorry to hear that. My colleague has replied to your email. Hope you get it sorted.

  11. Hello I was wondering if maybe you could help me I do not have money to pay but I really need help verifying my identity see I was adopted when I was younger I was actually taking my Missouri State CPS from my mother and I remember it but when she didn’t get me back and I went through the adoption process they not only changed my entire name but they also altered the year I was born on so I did get an adopted certificate I do know my real name at birth I do know my mother’s name that Earth me and my supposed birth father’s name as well although I’m not sure if he was listed on the original birth certificate or not but I do know all that information and my original said to be first date year and I have been trying to prove or find a way to prove who I am for so many years I haven’t been able to get any of my taxes or be able to prove who I am for any credit cards or student loans or any kind of credit report it’s been extremely difficult process in doing anything that pertains to Identity and the proof of for almost 12 years now or more anything that has ever had my name and social and birth certificate information required has always come back as needing verification and I don’t know how to prove anymore than I can prove who I am What do I do can you help

    • Hey Roxy,

      I’m really sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, we’re a UK based company and, as it sounds like you’re in the US, we can’t advise you. I’d say maybe get in touch with any local government departments and ask them for advice? I wish there was more we could do for you.

      • Hello
        One of my relations who was adopted in 1942 has recently died. His children know nothing about his original name, parents or place of birth. Can they apply to the GRO to find original birth certificate? Could I do it on their behalf?

        • Hey Elizabeth,

          That’s a bit of a tough one. Do you have his adoption certificate, or know anything about the adoption agency?
          I think you might have to go through an Intermediary service – if you have a read of this document questions 9, 10, 11 might give you some useful information.

          It’s not usually possible to request adoption information on someone’s behalf (for security reasons), but you can obviously help them and guide them through it. Hope this helps!

  12. Dear Melanie,
    I have found your article very interesting, informative, and I think has answered my quandary.
    I have searched all the available sites for the relevent information about my fathers birth and come up empty. So one may assume he was adopted.Probably at an early age.
    I have his DOB,POB,DOM,DOD. I also have my grand parents names, as well as his military service record as he died in 1991.
    Like one of your previous posts i am trying for citizenship in another country and they require a fathers birth certificate.If his adoption did occur then it would be his adoption certificate they would hopefully accept.Correct so far!!! Apostilles applied etc.
    With the information I have available is it possible to obtain said certificate, perhaps through you,
    His hopeful son

    • Hey Terrence,

      Thanks for reaching out! One of my colleagues, Emma, has emailed you!

  13. Hi. Could you please explain why my “short” birth certificate and my full certificate has different first names.
    Thank you.

    • Hey Philip,

      In what way are the names different? Is it a completely different name or is it a misspelling? Could it have been an administrative error?

  14. Hi
    I have obtained a copy of my original birth certificate (born in mother & baby home in the UK in 1961). My birth mother was not allowed to include my father’s name on it as although they were in a relationship, they were not married, and he had decided not to support her.
    The adoption documents I also managed to obtain name my biological father as the ‘putative father’.
    Is it possible to get my original birth certificate amended to include him? He was Irish – I would so much like to reclaim that half of my heritage officially, but have been told that I can’t if he’s not on the birth certificate!

    • Hey Maggie,

      It is technically possible to add the father, but it depends on the circumstances.

      Are your biological parents still alive? You, as the child, can’t add the father to your certificate but your mother could potentially re-register the birth and add him. To do this she’d need his permission and/or solid proof that he is the biological father, so it’s not exactly a simple process. I hope you manage to get it sorted and embrace your Irish heritage!

  15. I have a rather confusing issue. I was born when my parents weren’t married, my father was in the Korean war. My birth was regisered under my mothers maiden name in 1953, however, in 1955 they did marry after his return, however, I do have my original birth certificate, which I believe is now superceeded by my adoption certificate, as an historian and studying geneology. I wonder if this sort of thing happened during that era, also I am not sure how to go about getting the adoption birth certificate, as I did once have it but lost it.. Can you advise please.

    • Hey Pauline,

      Thank you for reaching out. Cases like yours aren’t actually that uncommon, especially during wartime! You’re right – an adoption certificate does, in essence, replace the original birth certificate and can be used for all the legal purposes that your birth certificate would be.

      We can search the records and get you a replacement adoption certificate. You’d just need to provide a few details to allow us to do the search. Visit our replacement adoption certificate page here https://www.vitalcertificates.co.uk/duplicate-adoption-certificate.html and we can source it for you. If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask – we’re here to help anyway we can. You can comment on this blog again or send us an email on sales@vitalcertificates.co.uk. Thanks!

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