I am applying for my first passport. I have a copy of my birth certificate, but it's on 9 x 14 paper. Given that I will be required to have a photocopy of said birth certificate to mail off, how do I scan and print it it?

Can I scan two halves with plenty of overlap and send it off like that? I assume when scanning my state ID card I'll end up with two sheets of paper (one for the front, one for the back) so can I have my birth certificate also be in two pieces if they clearly overlap?

If not, should I find somewhere to make a 9 x 14 scan of it? Will that be alright to mail off?

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    I'd suggest a photocopy shop with a reducing machine that will get it onto 8½x11. Remember, this is just a second copy. You must also send the certified copy (which is 9x14) you got from wherever you were born. – Andrew Lazarus Mar 22 at 17:30
  • @AndrewLazarus Sorry can you expand on that - I thought I only had to bring the "real" version for the USPS person to sign off on. They're going to take it? Will I get it back? – Alex Mar 22 at 17:35
  • Large birth certificates are often issued by hospitals, are not official, and will only be considered by the State Dept. when better documents are not available. These often have the baby's footprints. Birth certificates issued by state or local government agencies are usually 8.5 x 11 inches or smaller. If unsure you could post an image with sensitive information redacted. – Gerard Ashton Mar 22 at 17:54
  • @GerardAshton The paper I have has a letterhead for the Registry Division of the City of ___, with a certificate number and footer with a big seal, etc. The center of the page is a (very, very old!) photocopy of my Standard Certificate of Live Birth, which I presume is the hospital record you're speaking of. Does the document as a whole sound like what you'd expect? This seal looks pretty darn official. – Alex Mar 22 at 17:56
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    It sounds like what you have is a valid certified copy of your birth certificate with an official seal, but aside from the fee and the delay, no real harm from requesting a new copy. – Zach Lipton Mar 22 at 18:07

I would find a photocopy machine capable of handling larger than US letter-sized paper. Most non-tiny copy shops, like a FedEx Office, can do this for a small charge. Place the document on the glass, set the copier settings (or get the staff to help you) to scan the larger document and reduce it onto a smaller piece of paper, and copy. You could also scan it with a sufficiently large scanner and print a copy onto letter-sized paper. A photograph taken with a scanning app might work too, though you'd want to be sure it really looks just like a photocopy or risk rejection.

Keep in mind that the State Department requirements are that you bring (in addition to the application and ID and ID photocopy and all the other required documents detailed on the linked page):

  • A certified copy of your birth certificate that meets the requirements. This is the official document you got from the vital records office; it's not something you can copy yourself.
  • And second, a photocopy of the birth certificate on 8.5x11 paper, black and white, single-sided. They keep that, and this can be a copy you make yourself. Alternatively, you can submit a second certified copy, which they'll still keep.
  • Thanks for the answer - getting it scaled down makes perfect sense! Question though - do they keep the certified official copy? (the one in your first bullet point) or do they merely need to lay eyeballs on it and I still get to take it home? I'm leery about just mailing off my only current copy willy-nilly! – Alex Mar 22 at 17:45
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    @Alex, travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/… says, when you expand #3, "If you don't want to submit a photocopy of your citizenship evidence, you may submit a second certified copy of your citizenship evidence, which we will keep." This implies they will only look at the official document. – Gerard Ashton Mar 22 at 17:51
  • yes, they do take the original if you have only a simply photocopy. and they staple it carelessly to the form, and sent it away. Be prepared. Some even put their coffee mug on it and stain it. – Aganju Mar 22 at 22:46

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