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Every person born in the U.S. gets a birth certificate and social security number, establishing his or her name, age, birthplace and U.S. citizenship. Citizenship is automatically granted to those born in the U.S. Sometimes a birth certificate is needed as proof of citizenship, for instance, when applying for a driver's license, social security card, or certain types of employment.
A birth certificate copy is still an official document, printed on official paper, and can be identified as a proper document. A photocopy is not necessarily accepted by any or all government entities, and in most cases will be refused. In today's world, it's increasingly hard to do anything that is government run without your identification papers.