Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces
As part of its mission to provide access to data and
information relating to the health of the Nation, the National
Center for Health Statistics produces a number of publications
containing reference and statistical materials. The purpose of
this publication is solely to provide information about
individual vital records maintained only on file in State or
local vital statistics' offices.
An official certificate of every birth, death, marriage,
and divorce should be on file in the locality where the event
occurred. The Federal Government does not maintain files or
indexes of these records. These records are filed permanently
either in a State vital statistics office or in a city, county,
or other local office.
To obtain a certified copy of any of the certificates,
write or go to the vital statistics office in the State or area
where the event occurred. Addresses and fees are given for each
event in the State or area concerned.
To ensure that you receive an accurate record for your
request and that your request is filled expeditiously, please
follow the steps outlined below for the information in which
you are interested:
* Write to the appropriate office to have your request
* Under the appropriate office, information has been
included for birth and death records concerning whether
the State will accept checks or money orders and to whom
they should be made payable. This same information would
apply when marriage and divorce records are available from
the State office. However, it is impossible for us to list
fees and addresses for all county offices where marriage
and divorce records may be obtained.
* For all certified copies requested, make check or money
order payable for the correct amount for the number of
copies you want to obtain. Cash is not recommended because
the office cannot refund cash lost in transit.
* Because all fees are subject to change, a telephone number
has been included in the information for each State for
use in verifying the current fee.
* Type or print all names and addresses in the letter. Give
the following facts when writing for birth or death
1. Full name of person whose record is being requested.
3. Parents' names, including maiden name of mother.
4. Month, day, and year of birth or death.
5. Place of birth or death (city or town, county, and State;
and name of hospital, if known).
6. Purpose for which copy is needed.
7. Relationship to person whose record is being requested.
* Give the following facts when writing for marriage
1. Full names of bride and groom.
2. Month, day, and year of marriage.
3. Place of marriage (city or town, county, and State).
4. Purpose for which copy is needed.
5. Relationship to persons whose record is being requested.
* Give the following facts when writing for divorce records:
1. Full names of husband and wife.
2. Date of divorce or annulment.
3. Place of divorce or annulment.
4. Type of final decree.
5. Purpose for which copy is needed.
6. Relationship to persons whose record is being requested.
Foreign or high-seas births and deaths and certificates of
Birth records of persons born in foreign countries who are U.S.
citizens at birth
The birth of a child abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s)
should be reported to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy as
soon after the birth as possible. To do this, the child's
parent or legal guardian should file an Application for
Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United
States of America (Form FS-579/SS-5). This form may also be
used to apply for a Social Security Number for the child. A
$10.00 fee is charged for reporting the birth.
The application must be supported by evidence to establish
the child's U.S. citizenship. Usually, the following documents
1. the child's foreign birth certificate;
2. evidence of the U.S. citizenship of the parent(s) such as
a certified copy of a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or
Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship;
3. evidence of the parents' marriage, if applicable; and
4. affidavit(s) of the physical presence of the parent(s) in
the United States.
Each document should be certified as a true copy of the
original by the registrar of the office that issued the
document. Other documents may be needed in some cases. Contact
the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for details on what
evidence is needed.
When the application is approved, a Consular Report of
Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (Form
FS-240) is given to the applicant. This document, known as the
Consular Report of Birth, has the same value as proof of
citizenship as the Certificate of Citizenship issued by the
Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A Consular Report of Birth can be prepared only at a U.S.
Embassy or Consulate overseas, and only if the person who is
the subject of the report is under 18 years of age when the
application is made. A person residing abroad who is now 18
years of age or over, and whose claim to U.S. citizenship has
never been documented, should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy
or Consulate for assistance in registering as a U.S. citizen.
As of November 1, 1990, the U.S. Department of State no
longer issues multiple copies of the Consular Report of Birth.
However, a replacement Consular Report of Birth may be issued
if the original document is lost or mutilated. The U.S.
Department of State also issues certified copies of the
Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350), which contains the
same information as on the Consular Report of Birth. The
DS-1350 serves most needs and can be issued in multiple copies.
Documents are issued only to the subject of the Consular Report
of Birth, the subject's parents or legal guardian, or a person
who submits written authorization from the subject.
To request copies of the DS-1350 or a replacement FS-240,
write to Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, U.S.
Department of State, 1425 K St. NW, Room 386, Washington, DC
20522-1705. Please include the following items:
1. the full name of the child at birth (and any adoptive
2. the date and place of birth;
3. the names of the parents;
4. the serial number of the FS-240 (if the FS-240 was
issued after November 1, 1990);
5. any available passport information;
6. the signature of the requestor and the requestor's
relationship to the subject;
7. a check or money order for $10.00 per document
requested, made payable to the U.S. Department of
8. if applying for a replacement FS-240, a notarized
affidavit by the subject, parent, or legal representative
that states the name, date and place of birth of the
subject, and the whereabouts of the original FS-240.
To obtain a Consular Report of Birth in a new name, send a
written request and fees as noted above, the original (or
replacement) Consular Report of Birth, or if not available, a
notarized affidavit about its whereabouts. Also, send a
certified copy of the court order or final adoption decree
which identifies the child and shows the change of name with
the request. If the name has been changed informally, submit
public records and affidavits that show the change of name.
Birth records of alien children adopted by U.S. citizens
Birth certifications for alien children adopted by U.S.
citizens and lawfully admitted to the United States may be
obtained from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
if the birth information is on file.
Certification may be issued for children under 21 years of
age who were born in a foreign country. Requests must be
submitted on INS Form G-641, which can be obtained from any INS
office. (Address can be found in a telephone directory.) For
Certification of Birth Data (INS Form G-350), a $15.00 search
fee, paid by check or money order, should accompany INS Form
Certification can be issued in the new name of an adopted
or legitimated child after proof of an adoption or legitimation
is submitted to INS. Because it may be issued for a child who
has not yet become a U.S. citizen, this certification (Form
G-350) is not proof of U.S. nationality.
Certificate of citizenship
Persons who were born abroad and later naturalized as U.S.
citizens or who were born in a foreign country to a U.S.
citizen (parent or parents) may apply for a certificate of
citizenship pursuant to the provisions of Section 341 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act. Application can be made for
this document in the United States at the nearest office of the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS will
issue a certification of citizenship for the person if proof of
citizenship is submitted and the person is within the United
States. The decision whether to apply for a certificate of
citizenship is optional; its possession is not mandatory
because a valid U.S. passport or a Form FS-240 has the same
Death records of U.S. citizens who die in foreign countries
The death of a U.S. citizen in a foreign country may be
reported to the nearest U.S. consular office. If reported, and
a copy of the local death certificate and evidence of U.S.
citizenship are presented, the consul prepares the official
"Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad" (Form
OF-180). A copy of the Report of Death is then filed
permanently in the U.S. Department of State (see exceptions
To obtain a copy of a report filed in 1960 or after, write
to Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, U.S. Department of
State, Washington, DC 20522-1705. The fee for a copy is $10.00.
Fee may be subject to change.
Reports of Death filed before 1960 are maintained by the
National Archives and Records Service, Diplomatic Records
Branch, Washington, DC 20408. Requests for such records should
be sent directly to that office.
Reports of deaths of persons serving in the Armed Forces of
the United States (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast
Guard) or civilian employees of the Department of Defense are
not maintained by the U.S. Department of State. In these cases,
requests for copies of records should be sent to the National
Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records), 9700
Page Ave., St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100.
Records of birth and death occurring on vessels or aircraft on
the high seas
When a birth or death occurs on the high seas, whether in
an aircraft or on a vessel, the record is usually filed at the
next port of call.
1. If the vessel or aircraft docked or landed at a foreign
port, requests for copies of the record may be made to the
U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20522-1705.
2. If the first port of entry was in the United States, write
to the registration authority in the city where the vessel
or aircraft docked or landed in the United States.
3. If the vessel was of U.S. registry, contact the local
authorities at the port of entry and/or search the vessel
logs at the U.S. Coast Guard Facility at the vessel's
final port of call for that voyage.
Records maintained by foreign countries
Most, but not all, foreign countries record births and
deaths. It is not possible to list in this publication all
foreign vital records offices, the charges they make for copies
of records, or the information they may require to locate a
record. However, most foreign countries will provide
certifications of births and deaths occurring within their
Persons who need a copy of a foreign birth or death record
should contact the Embassy or the nearest Consulate in the U.S.
of the country in which the death occurred. Addresses and
telephone numbers for these offices are listed in the U.S.
Department of State Publication 7846, "Foreign Consular Offices
in the United States," which is available in many local
libraries. Copies of this publication may also be purchased
from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
If the Embassy or Consulate is unable to provide
assistance, U.S. citizens may obtain assistance by writing to
the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of
State, Washington, DC 20520-4818. Aliens residing in the United
States may be able to obtain assistance through the Embassy or
Consulate of their country of nationality.