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GUIDE TO OBTAINING VITAL RECORDS

 

Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces

 

Introduction

 

     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

     filled.

 

   * 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

     records:

 

  1. Full name of person whose record is being requested.

 

  2. Sex.

 

  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

     records:

 

  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.

 

 

[Table Omitted]

 

 

Foreign or high-seas births and deaths and certificates of

citizenship

 

 

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

are needed:

 

  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

     name);

 

  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

     State; and

 

  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

G-641.

 

     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

evidentiary status.

 

 

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

below).

 

    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

boundaries.

 

     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.

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