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Saturday
Jun292013

How to Get a Mexican Birth Certificate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

How to get a Mexican Birth Certificate for your baby in 17 "easy" steps. 

(You can view all my information about giving birth in Mexico here.)

1. You'll need to give birth in Mexico. To read my daughter's Mexican birth story, click here.

2. In the hospital, after the birth, an attendant will come into your room and have you fill out a long form. It will be in Spanish. It will only ask for information about the mother of the baby. For the last name, PUT YOUR MAIDEN NAME, not your current married name (assuming you are married and have taken your husband's name). Do not put what is on your passport if it is your married (read: husband's) last name. Put the name that is on your birth certificate.

3. Speaking of birth certificates. Make sure you have an original of both your birth certificate AND your marriage certificate (assuming you are married.) In fact, have TWO originals of either your birth certificate or your marriage certificate because they will keep an original of either of these and not return it when all is said and done. Luckily, I had ordered two originals when I got married, so was able to let one go to get my daughter's Mexican birth certificate.

4. If you do not believe me, by all means, do what we did and put the name that is on your passport (as advised by the hospital staff, who clearly know nothing about foreigners getting birth certificates for their babies.) We listened to them and put my married name, as listed on my Passport, and then we headed down to the Registro Civil (civil registry) to do all the paperwork. When they checked all of our paperwork they explained that since the name on the form from the hospital did not match my Birth Certificate we would need to go back to the hospital and have the form corrected.

5. Back we went to the hospital. We sat around for quite some time until a woman came by to help us. In about five seconds she was able to amend the form. Just make sure she stamps the correction on the back of the form with the hospital stamp and HAND WRITES IN HER DOCTOR'S CODE next to it. Don't forget the code or you can plan on repeating your trip to the hospital...

Lots of waiting. Very hot. New moms need rest and lots of water, so bring some, and find a seat if you can.

6. How to get to the Registro Civil in Puerto Vallarta. I am absolutely certain that the building has a number and street address but none of my Googling could find it (let me know if you find out and I'll amend the post.) No matter, you can ask anyone in town where it is located and they all know where to send you. If you are going there from La Cruz or Bucerias, hop on a Kombi and take it almost all the way to the last stop in central Puerto Vallarta. Get off when you see the Volkswagon dealership on your left. The Registro Civil is on the street to the right of the dealership when you are facing it.

7. Pro-tip. Though the Registro Civil is open until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. They stop doing birth certificates after 2:00pm. We get there at 3:00pm the first time and learned this the hard way. We did have them check all of our paperwork and that is how we learned we had the wrong last name for me on the long form from the hospital and had to go back.

8. Once you have made sure you have the same name as written on your own birth certificate as on the form from the hospital, then compile the following items for your trip to the Registro Civil:

  • Two witnesses, other than you and your husband. They don't have to be American, but they do need to bring their passports and their current visas.
  • An original of BOTH the mother's birth certificate and your marriage certificate (remember you will not get your original back of one these, but you get to choose.)
  • Father and mother's passports and current visas.
  • The long form you filled out at the hospital for your child's birth.
  • Copies of all of the above documents.

9. A note on the copies. Don't make them or bring them in advance. They are very particular about how they want things copied and the size of the paper they are copied on. When you get to the Registro Civil, I advise going in and having them check your paperwork to make sure everything is correct. If they say it is, they will tell you that you need copies. Walk across the street to the photo store (they do passport photos, wedding portraits, etc) and ask them to make the copies. The store knows the size, etc of how the Registro Civil likes everything copied.

10. Pro-tip. You are going to need passport photos later for applying for the US passport for your baby. While at the photo place, get the passport photos taken. Make sure you get the correct size. Ask for the size for American passports, not Mexican ones. The photo will not be ready immediately, so get this done early, so you can go back and pick it up after all the hoopla at the Registro Civil. Or, you can do like we did, and forget to pick it up afterwards, hence necessitating a third visit to this part of the city to pick it up.

11. Okay, you have all your documents, you have your copies, everything has been checked once by the ladies at the Registro Civil. When you go back after getting your copies, you are going to need to elbow your way to the front with everything. Mexicans and Americans have different ways of doing things, and waiting in lines, with a "you were first" attitude is not a part of Mexican culture. They will just keep cutting in front of you, so step up and don't let that happen.

Checking forms, waiting, nursing.

12. The wait begins. They'll need to transfer all the information to the official Acta de Nacimiento (Birth Certificate). This will take some time. It will be hot. Bring some bottled water. Wait. Nurse. Wait. Nurse some more. Did I mention it will be hot?

13. They will most likely have follow up questions. Be polite and help them with any questions on your English-language documents.

14. Eventually they will call you up and have you look over a new document and confirm that everything is correct. Read it carefully. Read it three times over. There were several spelling errors on mine. I showed then and they quickly fixed it before printing the official document.

15. Whew. To make it official they will need to put your baby's fingerprints on the documents. Take lots of pictures and rejoice that you are almost finished.

16. Pro-tip. I wish we had known this. Ask for several originals if you plan on staying in Mexico for a long time. If you are going to live in Mexico, enroll your kids in school, etc., they use the Acta de Nacimiento for children sort of like an ID card and many places will need an original to get anything done. Save yourself the trouble and get a few while you are there. Only possible problem? Even if you get a few originals when you first go down there, you may be asked for "new" originals later. I know that sounds confusing, and it is, but a year after you got one, they may ask you for an updated one closer to the current day. I have no idea why. I don't make the Mexican rules, I just try to follow them...

17. Treat your witnesses, who came down in the Kombi with you, all the way from La Cruz, not once, but TWICE to lunch and thank them profusely. And a big thank you to their amazing son, Eli, who also came along for both adventures and had endless patience with Cora who adores him.

We now have an official Mexican baby girl!

Next step: How to Apply for your child's American Birth Certificate (actually called the Consular Report of Birth Abroad or CRBA) and their US Passport. Coming soon!

-----

HUGE THANKS owed to Tamiko, Steve, and Elie Willie on Landfall. Our wonderful witnesses and to Ali on Bumfuzzle for sharing most of the information in this post to me over several email messages back and forth.

Reader Comments (5)

OMG, this sounds as some procedure!
I am sure those tips will be useful to many people.

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTnT

Can not believe the registering for the birth certificate took longer than the actual birth!

June 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCidnie

Wow. That's harder than going through the Panama Canal and possibly even checking into Mexico in Isla Mujeres. Love me some Mexican bureaucracy!

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAttila

Much thanks for this! My wife and I just went to the Registro Civil in Mexico City today to get my son's birth certificate (we're from the US). Your info was very useful beforehand so we knew what to expect.

The lady "helping" us wasn't very helpful, but that's kind of how customer service here works, especially among government bureaucrats. Like most things, if you're are persistent, things eventually get done. She told us our US marriage certificate wasn't valid unless we went back to the US and got an official one prepared in Spanish. As that was a non-starter, she eventually suggested we go to the embassy. After a long, frustrating conversation, we asked what happens if we don't have a proper marriage certificate. She told us that we couldn't have our son's grandparents' names on the birth certificate, but that everything else would be the same. We couldn't care less about that, so we proceeded "without" our marriage certificate.

She also gave us some trouble about how the form was filled out by our midwives, but she was incorrect so she eventually dropped it.

We had to run home to get a bill with our home address on it, and make a bunch of copies, but she approved it at the end. The only bummer was since my wife and I both have the same hyphenated name, our son now has the same hyphenated name twice...we tried to argue this but didn't seem to have a choice, per mexican law. Hopefully the embassy can give us a passport with his correct last name!

September 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Hi Chris,

That sounds like a classical example of going through this process. Welcome to the club! And I had to laugh at the double hyphenated name thing. Classic. I really hope the embassy can work with that. Good luck and congratulations on your new baby!

September 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterCharlotte

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