Certificate of Failure to Find definition

Last updated August 11th, 2023

A certificate of failure to find is a legal document issued by a government agency stating that a search for a particular vital record was conducted, but it could not be found.

This certificate can often be submitted in place of the missing vital record for various legal and administrative purposes, such as applying for a marriage license or obtaining a passport.

In general, the process for obtaining a certificate of failure to find will be the same as the document you were initially searching for.

Records You May Use a Certificate of Failure to Find For

A certificate of failure to find may be given in place of various important vital records that cannot be located, such as a U.S. birth certificate.

Examples of records or documents that you can be given a certificate of failure to find include:

The certificate can provide official evidence that your document is missing and that you have a valid replacement.

Which States Provide a Certificate of Failure to Find

Not all states offer certificates of failure to find if they are unable to locate your vital record.

You should check with your local authorities to see if the certificate is available if you are notified that your vital record could not be found.

How to Get a Certificate of Failure to Find

The process for obtaining this document is similar to applying for the missing vital record. You will need to provide the required identification that is requested by your state.

In general, you will need to submit at least one of the following forms of identification along with a filled-out application:

  • Driver's License
  • Out-of-State Driver's License
  • State-Issued Non-Driver ID
  • U.S. or Foreign Passport
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • U.S. Military ID

You will also need to include the necessary payment along with your identification and application.