(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — People 16 years and older now have more access to obtaining their birth certificates.

Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson announced changes to birth certificate eligibility requirements, providing access to individuals as young as 16, and creating new fee waiver options.

“When the department learned that some minors experiencing homelessness or navigating through the foster or juvenile justice system were struggling to receive their birth certificate, we made appropriate changes,” Dr. Johnson said. “Now people, as young as 16 can access their personal vital records which can help them establish their identity.” 

Earlier this month, the department updated the birth certificate request process to lower the age of eligible applicants from 18 years old to 16 years old. The lower age will make it easier for 16- and 17-year-old individuals to obtain their birth certificate, which is necessary to apply for a driver’s license or college admission.  

In addition, a new fee waiver option was implemented this month to allow individuals aged 16-24 who are, or have been, involved in foster care or juvenile justice to access their birth certificate without the $20 fee. A separate fee waiver application was created for individuals experiencing homelessness.   

Each year, the department receives tens of thousands of birth certificate applications. Thus far in 2022, the department has received more than 32,000 mailed and 35,000 walk-in applications. 

To order a birth certificate, please visit www.health.pa.gov.