In 2014, Housing CA sponsored Assembly Bill 1733 which was signed into law. Individuals experiencing homelessness can now secure a free copy of their California birth certificate and/or free California photo ID card. Please note that Housing California does not issue birth certificates or IDs.
Am I eligible to get a free copy of my birth certificate?
Yes, you can if you were born in California, are experiencing homelessness, and can reach a place that provides services to unhoused people. A homeless service provider such as staff at emergency shelters or county human services offices can work with you to complete the required forms.
Can I also get a copy of my child’s birth record?
Yes, as long as your child is verified as experiencing homelessness and you can get to a place that provides services to people who are experiencing homelessness. Service providers can help you complete the required forms.
If I’m not the child’s parent, can I get a free copy of his/her birth record?
Yes, as long as the child is experiencing homelessness and you are the child’s guardian, legal guardian, grandparent, brother, sister, or government agency AND are legally entitled to obtain the birth record.
Do I need to know what county I was born in?
Yes. If you do not know what county you were born in, you can go to the local County Recorder’s office and ask for assistance in locating your birth record. The county can assist you with this search without charging you a fee. Once you know what county you were born in, you will need to turn in the signed Affidavit to that county. If you’re unable to go in person, you will need to send your Affidavit to the Recorder’s office in the county in which you were born.
Who is considered a “homeless service provider”?
- A governmental or nonprofit agency receiving federal, state, or county or municipal funding to provide services to a “homeless person” or “homeless child or youth,” or that is otherwise sanctioned to provide those services by a local homeless continuum of care organization.
- An attorney licensed to practice law in this state.
- A local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth designated as such pursuant to Section 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii) of Title 42 of the United States Code, or a school social worker.
- A human services provider or public social services provider funded by the State of California to provide homeless children or youth services, health services, mental or behavioral health services, substance use disorder services, or public assistance or employment services.
- A law enforcement officer designated as a liaison to the homeless population by a local police department or sheriff’s department within the state. This information is included on the affidavit instruction page. No person or entity should verify homelessness unless they are specifically permitted to do so under AB 1733.
Where do I begin?
Contact your local emergency shelter or county human services office and let them know you would like a “birth certificate fee waiver.”
Go to the service provider recommended by your local emergency shelter or county human services office to sign the form that verifies you are experiencing homessness (called an “Affidavit of Homeless Status”).
If you are in the county in which you were born, take your signed Affidavit to the “County Recorder’s Office.” Start at the Information Desk and let them know you are there to get a copy of your birth certificate. They may have you fill out a form on a computer and then take your Affidavit to the Cashier’s window. If you need assistance, do not hesitate to ask.
Learn about free state-issued photo IDs (from the DMV)
As of January 1, 2016, people experiencing homelessness can now get a free California photo ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Learn more.