ORDER YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE ONLINE
If your birth certificate has gone missing or has been damaged, you already know that you need to ask for a replacement as soon as possible, since birth certificates are essential documents for several bureaucratic procedures in the U.S., such as signing a work contract or applying for your passport.
For this reason, generally and if you haven’t been adopted through a sealed procedure, you can fairly easily obtain a copy of your own birth certificate.
However, birth records other than your own are restricted, and often even impossible to access for the general public. The same goes for other vital records like death and marriage certificates.
Keep reading to find out about the rules on birth records and how to access them.
No, a great number of vital records are not open to the public in the USA. For the majority of states, you will be able to successfully request a birth certificate with the state’s office of vital records only if you are the person named in the record or have a significant relationship with them.
Eligible people who may request someone’s else birth certificate include, for example:
The individual other than the certificate holder requesting access must provide proof of relationship with the person named on the certificate. Depending on the nature of the relationship, this may include other vital records, such as a certificate of marriage.
Please note that the above list is not exhaustive and does not apply to all states. If you are considering requesting someone else’s vital records, you should first check your eligibility with the relevant government office in the state where the birth or other recorded event occurred.
There are exceptions to the rule and some certificates are available for public consultation.
This is the case, for example, for genealogy birth certificates, which are the records of births that occurred over 80 years ago. These are usually kept in state archives or public libraries and can be consulted freely for research purposes or, for example, to retrace one’s family tree.
Other genealogy vital records include:
Moreover, several states allow the general public to access informational copies of vital records. These documents have been edited to leave out all sensitive information and cannot be used for legal purposes in the U.S. but are still useful, for example, for research purposes.
Each state sets criteria for allowing a birth certificate to become public or making sure it remains confidential.
Birth certificates are available to certain authorized individuals, public or not.
If you are able to obtain yours or someone else’s birth certificate, make sure you have the correct information.
Any non-authorized person needs to wait a certain number of years until the record is made public. The amount of years is determined by the state.
Review your state’s access to birth records in the table below.
|State||Access to birth record||Statute|
|Alabama||Becomes a non-restricted public record 125 years after birth.||§ 22-9A-21(f)|
|Alaska||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ AS 18.50.310(a), (f)|
|Arizona||Becomes public 75 years after birth.
It can be accessed by genealogists in certain circumstances.
|Arkansas||Becomes public 100 years after birth.
It is only made public on the grounds of research.
|California||It is a public record, not including medical and family information.||§ 102430|
|Colorado||It is made public to someone directly interested in the certificate.||§ 25-2-117(1)|
|Connecticut||Can only be made public after at least 100 years.||§ 7-51|
|Delaware||Becomes public 72 years after birth.||16 Del. C. § 3110(f)|
|District of Columbia||Becomes public after 125 years.||§ 7–231.24.|
|Florida||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 63.162(4) (2020)|
|Georgia||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 511-1-3|
|Hawaii||Become public 115 years after birth.||§ 338-1|
|Idaho||Become public 100 years after birth.||§ 39-270(e)|
|Illinois||Public only to the person on the document and immediate family.||§ 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a)|
|Indiana||Is not made public.||§ 16-37-2-9|
|Iowa||It can only be made public to provide information to locate a child who requires immunizations.||§ 144.13|
|Kansas||Become public 70 years after birth.||§ K.S.A. 45-221(a)|
|Kentucky||Become public 100 years after birth.||§ 213.131(2)|
|Louisiana||It is not made public.||§ 40:41(C)(1)-(2)|
|Maine||Becomes public 75 years after birth.||§ 2706|
|Maryland||It is not made public.||§ 4-101(j)|
|Massachusetts||It is a public record, except for out-of-wedlock births.||§ G.L. c. 46, § 2A|
|Michigan||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 368-1978-2-28|
|Minnesota||It is a public record.||§ 144.225, subd. 2(a)|
|Mississippi||It is not made public.||§ 41-57-2|
|Missouri||It is not made public.||§ 10-10.090|
|Montana||The birth is immediately made public. The entire record can be disclosed 30 years later.||§ 50-15-122(5)(a)|
|Nebraska||It is a public record available to anyone with “proper purpose”.||§ 71-612|
|Nevada||It is not made public.||§ NAC 440.120|
|New Hampshire||It is not made public.||§ 5-C:9 (2014)|
|New Jersey||It is made public only to the person named on the certificate or their parent, sibling, child, or grandchild 18 years of age or older.||§ N.J.A.C. 8:2-2.1|
|New Mexico||Becomes public 100 years after birth or 50 years after death.||§ 24-14-27(C)|
|New York||Is not made public.||§ 4174|
|North Carolina||Uncertified birth certificates are accessible to the public.||§ 130a-93|
|North Dakota||Becomes public 125 years after birth.||§ 23-02.1-27|
|Ohio||It is a public record. If the certificate is altered, the original won’t be accessible.||§ 3705.09|
|Oklahoma||Becomes public 125 years after birth.||§ 63 O.S. § 1-323(A)|
|Oregon||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ ORS 432.350|
|Pennsylvania||It is made public to someone with an evident interest in the certificate.||§ 450.804|
|Rhode Island||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 3-3-23(d)|
|South Carolina||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 44-63-80|
|South Dakota||It is not made public.||§ 34-25-1|
|Tennessee||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 68-3-205|
|Texas||Becomes public 75 years after birth.||§ 552.115|
|Utah||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 26-2-22(4)(a)|
|Vermont||It is a public record.||§ 5002|
|Virginia||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 32. 1-271|
|Washington||It is a public record. There is a confidential section only available to authorized persons.||§ RCW70.58A|
|West Virginia||Is not made public.||§ 16-5-27|
|Wisconsin||It is a public record apart from all sensitive information.
Only authorized individuals may access any sensitive information.
|Wyoming||Becomes public 100 years after birth.||§ 35-1-427|
In order to retrieve a birth certificate, you first need to figure out what type of certificate you need.
Are you going to use it for legal purposes? If that is the case, you will need an official, authorized copy.
If you just need it for research purposes, you may want to get an informational copy, or you may even be after a genealogy record (depending on the year it was filed.)
Next, you must find out where the record is kept. Official, non-genealogical vital records are usually kept and issued by the Vital Records office of your state’s Department of Health.
These records can be obtained online by eligible applicants. All you need to do is fill out the online application form, collect the relevant supporting documentation (such as proof of ID and relationship with the certificate’s subject, if relevant) and mail your request together with the application fee. You will receive the certified copy of the record directly in the mail at home.
For older records, you may have to physically go to the relevant archive or library, or may be able to browse them online.