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Your birth certificate

Mar 15, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Do you know where your birth certificate is? How about your child's or your aged parent's?

Many of us have some idea, like in the back of that cluttered drawer or in one of those shoe boxes on the closet shelf.

But could you find it if you really had to?

Because you probably will need it before long. As bureaucracy increases in the name of national security, the birth certificate is going to become a vital document to have handy -- and not just for Little League registration.

Consider reporter Josh Scheer's story Wednesday about changes in the Wyoming driver's license application and renewal system. Your old driver's license isn't going to be a suitable form of identification anymore. A passport could work, but most people don't have one. That leaves the good ol' birth certificate. So start digging through those envelopes and file folders.

Parents with young children probably have the best sense of of where the kid's birth certificate is, but not necessarily their own. The time to start looking is now, not the night before your driver's license expires or, worse, when you are standing in line at the driver services counter with a big accordion file in your hands.

"I know it's in here somewhere" isn't going to cut it with the person behind the counter, to say nothing of the people behind you in a long, slow-moving line.

As pressure builds nationally to create secure, unimpeachable controls to both identify U.S. citizens and protect them, the birth certificate's importance is only going to grow. It's the closest thing most of us have got to an official government-issued identification, and we're probably going to need it more and more.

If you manage to find your birth certificate, make a couple copies of it. Then put it in a plastic page holder and decide on a secure, accessible and memorable place to keep it. Do the same with the birth certificate of your spouse, your children or anyone else in your household or your care.

If you can't find it, contact the Vital Statistics Service at the Wyoming Department of Health. Here's the telephone number: 777-7591.

You also can visit the Wyoming Department of Health website at www.health.wyo.gov.

If you weren't born in Wyoming, your state of birth has an office like Wyoming's, which will provide a copy of your official birth certificate. To find information on your birth state's service, go online to the National Center for Health Statistics through the Centers for Disease Control. That Internet address is

www.cdc.gov/nchs. The phone number: 1-800-232-4636.

Expect to pay $10 to $20 for a new birth certificate.

We still say it's even money that this law gets relaxed before long -- perhaps after a few state legislators are inconvenienced in a driver's license line.

But in case that bet doesn't come in, find your birth certificate, sooner rather than later.

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