When we were little kids getting ready to return to school during the last few weeks of summer vacation, the school supply list was pretty simple: a Big Chief Tablet, No. 2 pencils, the trapezoid-shaped eraser, notebook paper, spiral notebooks, a jar of paste, a bottle of glue, maybe some construction paper and a box of crayons — if we were lucky, it was the 64-count Crayola with the sharpener on the back of the box. Over the years, these lists have become more complex, but one thing remains constant across generations: A student’s parent or legal guardian will need to present an official birth certificate during the school enrollment process.
Obtaining the document is fairly straightforward. The first step is to come to the NET Health office at 815 N. Broadway Ave. We are located within the same building as the Tyler Municipal Court, in the far left set of doors. When you walk into our office, you will be greeted by me and Rosie Meza.
To receive a birth certificate (whether it will be used either by you, your children or your dependent), a qualified applicant must complete a short application form that is located in our front window. The application form is also available online at MyNETHealth.org (just hover over the “Services” link at the top of the page and select “Vital Statistics”), yet the process is easiest in person.
The state of Texas defines a qualified applicant as yourself, your parent, your grandparent, your sibling or your spouse. A legal representative can also complete the birth certificate application, but they must provide valid documentation, such as power of attorney, guardianship or custody court order.
Once the short application is completed, you will then provide the proper identification to our staff. Preferred identification documents can either be a valid current state-issued driver’s license or a valid current U.S. passport. Foreign passports with a current visa may be used in conjunction with other documents. The matricula consular card is not included on the list and cannot be used as proof of identification.
The cost for receiving a birth certificate is $23, and can be paid either with cash, a debit card, credit card or a local personal check (the check number in the top right corner has to be over the number 300). The request for the birth certificate is processed immediately and takes five to 10 minutes. Due to privacy and fraud risk, you will have to refrain from phone use while in our lobby.
Our Vital Statistics Department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Birth certificates are usually required for school enrollment but may also be required for employment, insurance, retirement and travel outside the United States. Our offices have access to birth records for the entire state of Texas, from as early as the year 1926, and for births within the city of Tyler from as early as 1910. Our Vital Statistics Department also can provide contact information for other states if needed. An extensive list of acceptable documents that meet the identification requirements is available in English and Spanish.
If you discover any mistakes or missing information on your child’s birth record, please ask for the appropriate amendment application, which will need to be signed by each listed parent. The application will then need to be notarized and submitted with the proper fee to the state offices of the Vital Statistics Unit for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The NET Health Vital Statistics Department is ready to help you check this back-to-school task off of your to-do list as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 903-535-0030.
Micah Alsobrooks is director of the NET Health Vital Statistics Department.