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Getting a photo that won’t be rejected by the passport authorities is just one of the challenges associated with newborn identification. Here’s what you need to know about your baby’s government paper project.
The hospital is the starting point for newborn paperwork. (With home births, your midwife will take over.) You must fill out the form for your child’s healthcare card before leaving the hospital and you’ll be sent home with a temporary card. The medical staff is also responsible for starting the birth registration process. Depending on where you live, the hospital may complete other elements of your child’s paperwork. In Alberta, hospitals complete the birth registration process and even apply for a social insurance number (SIN)–you’ll need this before you can start a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).
Whatever the hospital doesn’t complete, they will supply the paperwork to get you started. You may be overwhelmed to have a new addition, but don’t wait too long before looking through your handouts. You must complete your baby’s birth registration within 30 days of your child’s birth and you need to apply for a birth certificate before your baby turns one.
How you fill out the paperwork varies greatly between provinces. Parents in British Columbia and Ontario have it easy and can apply for all paperwork online at the same time. Residents of Nova Scotia and Quebec also have online options, but need to receive their child’s birth certificate before they can move forward with obtaining a SIN. Other provinces require you to complete paperwork by hand and submit it by mail, fax or in person.
“If you have the option for online registration, you should use it,” says David Shelly, owner of VitalCertificates.ca, a British Columbia-based business that helps people order government documents. The online options have a much quicker turn around time (as fast as six weeks in Ontario for all items) and they can eliminate any problems with illegibility that can cause hold ups.
Regardless of where you live, there are a few things everyone can do to make things go more smoothly. “Find out what type of birth certificate you need,” says Shelly. Some things such as moving overseas or even obtaining a passport can require a specific type of birth certificate. Also, make sure you write full names for everyone (no initials for middle names) and provide your home address instead of a P.O. Box. “Provinces courier the documents and they need a location where someone can sign for the paperwork,” says Shelly.
Cost also varies between province but most charge $25 to $35 for a birth certificate, and all other documentation is free. Rush services are also available, and again they vary in cost and speed between provinces. Alberta is privatized so you can even obtain same day service for a birth certificate. “The registry fee for a rush service will vary depending on which agency you choose,” says Mike Berezowsky, assistant director of communications for Service Alberta. It can pay to call around to a few offices first.