Medicaid Rules, Birth Certificates and Proof of Citizenship and Identity


All people who apply for Medicaid, or are re-certified, must provide proof of citizenship and identity. This means U.S. citizens need to have a copy of their birth certificate or other documents to prove they are U.S. citizens. They must also have other records like a driver's license or school records to prove identity.

This change can be a problem for people who lost their records, did not keep their papers or never had papers. It may cause delay or a denial of Medicaid. Most people will need to have either a birth certificate or a passport to apply for Medicaid. In some cases the Iowa Department of Human Services may be able to use other records so you should apply for Medicaid if you are a citizen and you need Medicaid. You should only have to prove your citizenship and identity once to the Iowa Department of Human Services. Persons now on Medicaid will need to provide the same documentation during the annual review. Immigrants need to provide INS documents to confirm their lawful immigrant status.

Birth Certificates in Iowa

To get Medicaid benefits, you must have proof of citizenship. Many people may need to either find their birth certificate or order a new one. Your local Iowa Department of Human Services office may be able to help get the documents you need. The Iowa Department of Human Services is working with the Department of Public Health to set up a way to get copies of Iowa birth certificates without charging a fee when needed for people who apply for or get Medicaid. It would be a good idea to check with the Iowa Department of Human Services before you order a birth certificate copy on your own.

The process to get a copy of your birth certificate is very simple. You can get all vital records from the Iowa Department of Public Health state office in Des Moines. You can also go to the County Recorder in the county in which you were born and get an official copy of your certificate for $15, with some exceptions. County Recorders cannot legally release records of:

  • single-parent births before July 1, 1995;
  • adoptions;
  • fetal deaths;
  • any record ordered sealed by a court of law; or
  • birth, death, and marriages between the years 1921 and 1941.

You can get birth certificates from the Iowa Department of Public Health by telephone, in person, or through the mail. To get a copy, you must be the person whose record it is or an "authorized person." An authorized person could be a parent, grandparent, spouse, brother/sister, child, legal guardian, or legal representative. All applicants must be 18 years old or older.

To get a birth certificate by mail, you must fill out an Application for Copy of Vital Record Form. You can get the form on the Web at or by writing the state office. You must also send the following:

  • proof of relationship if you are not the person whose record you are asking for,
  • a copy of a government-issued picture ID, and
  • a check or money order for $15 made payable to the Iowa Department Public Health.

Finally, the request must be signed in front of a notary public.

Mail to:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Bldg., 1st Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075

You should get an answer in 30-45 days.

You may get a birth certificate by phone using a credit card. Call 515-281-4944 from 7am-4:45pm, Monday through Friday, except for state holidays. If the birth certificate is not for the cardholder, you may be asked to send proof of relationship. An extra $5.50 ($20.50 total for the record by phone) is charged to use a credit card. You will get the certificate in 10 to 14 days.

You may get a birth certificate in person. Go to the state Bureau of Health Statistics at the address above. The office is just inside the north lobby entrance. They are open between 7 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, except state holidays. You must show a current government-issued photo ID and sign the request in front of registrar staff. The price is $15. Copies can be picked up after two working days or they may be mailed to you.

Birth Certificates from the Other States

Each state has different steps to get a birth certificate. If you were not born in Iowa, find out how to get a birth certificate from your state on the Web. Go to If you do not have Internet access at home, you may be able to get online at your local public library.

Getting Help

If you have problems getting Medicaid because of these rules, contact your local Iowa Legal Aid office.

Last Review and Update: Jul 26, 2006

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