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Vital Records

( people found this content useful.) 9 min read

Thank you for visiting our Vital Records page. This page contains a range of information related to vital records in the United States: vital records such as birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates.

Vital records are the most important documents you’ll ever need, as they serve as your proof of identification. You’ll need them to prove your identity while applying for a driver’s license or registering your vehicle, registering to vote, or opening a bank account. Importantly, you will also need to provide other proof of identification when requesting a copy of any vital record.

Your options to apply will vary depending on the type of vital record and the state in which you’re planning to apply. Some states also allow you to obtain vital records online via approved third-party public record websites such as VitalChek.

Continue reading to learn more about vital records.

General Information: Vital Records

A vital record is a document that serves as an official record of important life events. They are often used to identify individuals. You may use vital records to prove your identity; establish legal status, citizenship or legal residence, and obtain government benefits or services.
Generally, you can apply for these vital documents online, by mail, or in person. Your options will vary by state. The most common vital records are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Death certificates

Additionally, vital records are key resources for researching family history, verifying personal identity, or accessing important public services.

How to Apply for a Vital Record

The process for obtaining each type of vital record varies from state to state. You can generally request vital records in person or by mail depending on the guidelines of your state government agency. However, it is possible to obtain all four types of vital records online in some states.
To find out if you are able to request your vital record online through an approved third-party vendor, go to VitalChek now.

When requesting a vital record, you may need to submit additional documentation with the application form. It typically requires various copies of identification. The issuing agency will require you to present identification to prove your identity, such as a:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Current utility bill
  • Current vehicle registration
  • School ID card
  • Employer ID card
  • Military ID card
  • Passport

It is critical to have accurate vital records on file for legal matters such as proving one’s identity and age when applying for a job, traveling abroad, enrolling in school, or during other important life events.

Vital records are generally considered confidential documents. Therefore, only authorized individuals can access them. In some cases, an individual may obtain their own vital record by providing valid personal identification. On the other hand, some government offices may require additional information from you about the person whose record you are requesting.

Where to Get a Vital Record

You can generally obtain vital records from local vital statistics offices, county clerk offices, or through approved third-party public record vendors.

To find out how to go about requesting your birth certificate online in your state, please visit our affiliate VitalChek.

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates are vital records that serve to provide information about a person’s place of birth, date of birth, legal name given at birth. These vital records also contain other key details such as the names of the parents.

A birth certificate is an official vital record of an important life event. Various agencies will frequently request birth certificates to identify individuals.

Marriage Certificates

Marriage certificates are vital records that serve to prove the validity of a marriage between two parties. This certificate contains information such as the names and addresses of each party involved in the marriage. Every state will have its own requirements for requesting a marriage license. You can generally apply at your county clerk’s office.

Getting a copy of your marriage certificate is often as simple as filling out a form with some basic details about yourself and paying a fee at the appropriate government office in your county.
The marriage certificate fee will vary by state and depends on how many copies you request. Go to VitalChek to find out if you can request your marriage certificate online through an approved third-party vendor.

Important to note, some states require both individuals to be at least 18 years old, or others may require both parties to maintain residency.

Divorce Certificates

Divorce decrees are a type of vital record that confirms the dissolution of a marriage. The document provides details regarding the couple and their assets.

A divorce certificate mainly establishes the fact that you were married and how long you were married for. It can affect family matters like child custody, child support payments, and spousal support payments.

To request a divorce certificate, you will need to bring your marriage certificate, proof of identity with you, and payment for each requested divorce certificate.

Living Abroad?

If you need to establish or prove a divorce in your state or country of residence, you’ll need to provide documentation of the divorce judgment — a certified copy of the original decree signed by the judge who presided over your case.

Be sure to get an apostille stamp from the Secretary of State’s office in order to ensure other international agencies recognize your documentation.

Death Certificates

Death certificates are vital records that include the cause of death and other relevant information, such as the date, time and place of death.

To request a death certificate, you will need to bring proof of identity with you when visiting your local government agency and pay a fee for each copy requested. The fee varies based on how many copies are being requested.

Death certificates and vital records are increasingly accessible online, though state and local governments still provide vital records services.

If you need this document to process an application at a DMV office or would like more specific information about how to obtain a vital record like a death certificate, please contact your local government office for more assistance.

Alternatively, you may be able to request your vital record via an approved third-party provider like VitalChek.

Understanding vital records is an important part of preserving our collective history. Vital records play an important role in providing official documentation of key life events like marriage, divorce, birth and death.

Be sure to request your vital records before visiting your local DMV office to handle your DMV business.

Please visit the links below, and feel free to contact us if you need any assistance. Know before you go!

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Last Verified:
Apr 8, 2023