How To Find Birth Records Free Online Using Government Archives

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | October 7, 2022

Man showing a screenshot of his phone with a baby carriage has his hands on his hips and a magnifying glass behind him to demonstrate how to find birth records free online and how to get a copy of a birth certificate free online.

Whether it’s for reasons of curiosity or to recover important lost documents, knowing how to find birth records free online can be a big help.

It’s not just how to find someone’s birthday birth date, it’s finding the actual records.

Although many individuals may think that using government archives such as the National Archives and Records Administration will be the best method, there are usually more effective methods for obtaining various vital records including birth certificates. There are also several private companies that can help individuals obtain these documents completely free.

In fact, finding birth records is as easy as entering a name.

But, because birth certificates can be used fraudulently, there are some things to know about who can look up birth records, where they can be looked up legally, and how to use free government resources to find birth records instantly.

Where to Find Birth Records Online (How to Find Birth Records Free Online)

Although most people are familiar with the information that is made available through legislation such as the freedom of information act,1 individual may run into some trouble when trying to find birth certificates through the normal public record databases. This is due to the fact that birth certificates are not actually considered public records in most states. This also applies to death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce judgments.

Even though some of these documents involve the courts, where nearly everything is considered public information, these documents tend to have their own set of rules when it comes to how they are accessed and who has access to them.

With that being said, most of these records are digitized and held in online databases, and finding them is simply a matter of knowing where to look and understanding who will be able to request these documents and who will not.

How to Find Birth Records Free Online and Accessing Vital Records

When it comes to how to find birth records online free, the vital records office is usually the most reliable.

Although there are a few different methods to search for birth records online there is only one truly official method to do so: Searching records with the state vital records office. The vital records office is an agency in each state, usually part of the state’s health and public safety department, that maintains records such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records. The record office in each state only holds vital record information for that specific state and is generally the only agency that will have these records.

Many individuals will try to obtain birth records through federal agencies such as the National Archives and Records Administration2 however, these archives will only contain very specific vital information for individuals that are living overseas or in other similar situations.

Screenshot of National Archives website page about researching records with yellow arrow pointing to vital records.

The most important, and often disappointing, thing that individuals should know about accessing vital records is that they are not considered public information. This is the main reason that “How to find birth records free online” is somewhat difficult to answer.

This means that, unlike criminal records which can be accessed by anyone at any time barring special circumstances, vital records can only be accessed by specific persons. Who can access the records will depend on the records but in the case of birth certificates it is usually limited to the individual named on the document, the parents of the individuals, and sometimes siblings or their own children.

The vital records office is a great place to obtain your own records or the records of a family member but is not a worthwhile database to search for someone else’s birth records.

How to Search Birth Records by Parent Name Free

Since most birth records are not public information there is only one method of finding birth records that is even remotely reliable and free. Performing a background check or public record search using a private background check service will be the best option for most individuals that are trying to find birth records for someone other than themselves or a family member.

Almost all online private background check services will operate the same way. Basically, a name is entered and the background check service will search dozens of databases for any information matching the entered name. In many cases, birth records may be included if they are available due to state laws where the records are held for a number of other reasons.

Using the search bar at the top of this page will allow individuals to perform a verified public database search for free to see if there are public birth records available for a certain individual.

Other options include using a 7 day free trial background check service.

Where To Search Death Records by Name Free

Individuals wondering “How to find birth records online free,” can use the same methods to find death, marriage, and divorce records.

Screenshot of Massachusetts website page about birth, marriage, or death certificate with yellow arrow pointing on how to order them online.

Searching for death records will follow almost the exact same process as searching for birth records. The laws that prevent birth records from being easily obtained by the public also apply to death records in most cases. If the death record that is being sought belongs to a family member, then the best thing to do is to contact the vital record office in the state where the individual passed away.

If there is no relation to the individual then performing a public records search using the search at the top of this page will be most individuals’ best option.

Where Are Public Birth Records Held?

Birth records are generally held by the vital records office in each state. The vital records office will have the birth record of every individual that was born in that state, regardless of whether or not the individual’s parents were residents of the state.

Individuals living outside the U.S. such as those in the military or those living abroad on work visas will have their vital records held by the federal government in many cases. The NARA is in charge of all vital records for U.S. citizens that are not held by a state vital records office.

Related Reading: How Far Back Does a Federal Background Check Go? (Years)

Some individuals may think to contact the hospital where an individual was born in order to obtain birth records. Unfortunately, this is rarely an effective approach. The hospital will only have records that the individual was born at that hospital as all official documents, such as the birth certificate, are issued by the state vital records office.

Obtaining any information from a hospital is also virtually impossible unless the individual named on the documents is the requestor. Giving out documents regarding another individual’s medical information is illegal under federal law.3

Where To Find Free Public Birth Records Access

Unlike criminal records which have numerous searchable databases, there is currently no database that houses extensive birth record information. As mentioned the only agency that has any kind of databases regarding birth records is the state vital records office which will only give access to documents to the individual themselves and their immediate family members.

What Should I Do if I Lost My Birth Certificate?

Losing your birth certificate can be extremely stressful as it can make all kinds of important life events difficult or impossible if you do not have access to it. Luckily, obtaining a new birth certificate is an extremely easy process in most cases and can be done online in just a matter of minutes.

How To Find My Birth Certificate

Finding your birth certificate should be a relatively easy process for most individuals, assuming the individual knows the state in which they were born. There are a few different ways to find your birth certificate, most of which involve contacting the vital records office of the state in which the individual was born.

Before going straight to the vital records office, however, it may be worthwhile to look at the guide on the CDC website.4 This helpful guide will allow individuals to find the various vital record offices in each state and easily find the contact information specific to what kind of documents they need and their specific circumstances. Not only is this useful to find birth certificates but also death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records as well as tons of useful information regarding fees for these records and the state laws regarding their availability.

Use the table below to find out the contact information for the vital records office in each state.

State Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records
Alabama (AL) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Alabama
Alaska (AK) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Alaska
Arizona (AZ) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Arizona
Arkansas (AR) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Arkansas
California (CA)  Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records California
Colorado (CO) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Colorado
Connecticut (CT) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Connecticut
Delaware (DE) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Delaware
Florida (FL) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Florida
Georgia (GA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Georgia
Hawaii (HI) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Hawaii
Idaho (ID) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Idaho
Illinois (IL) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Illinois
Indiana (IN) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Indiana
Iowa (IA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Iowa
Kansas (KS) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Kansas
Kentucky (KY) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Kentucky 
Louisiana (LA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Louisiana
Maine (ME) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Maine
Massachusetts (MA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Massachusetts
Maryland (MD) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Maryland
Michigan (MI) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Michigan
Minnesota (MN) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Minnesota
Mississippi (MS) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Mississippi
Missouri (MO) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Missouri
Montana (MN) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Montana
Nebraska (NE) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Nebraska
Nevada (NV) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Nevada
New Hampshire (NH) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records New Hampshire
New Jersey (NJ) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records New Jersey
New Mexico (NM) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records New Mexico
New York (NY) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records New York
North Carolina (NC) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records North Carolina
North Dakota (ND) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records North Dakota
Ohio (OH) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Ohio
Oklahoma (OK) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Oklahoma
Oregon (OR) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Oregon
Pennsylvania (PA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Pennsylvania
Rhode Island (RI) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Rhode Island
South Carolina (SC) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records South Carolina
South Dakota (SD) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records South Dakota
Tennessee (TN) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Tennessee
Texas (TX) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Texas
Utah (UT) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Utah
Vermont (VT) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Vermont
Virginia (VI) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Virginia
Washington (WA) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Washington
West Virginia (WV) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records West Virginia
Wisconsin (WI) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Wisconsin
Wyoming (WY) Birth Records Online FreePublic Birth Records Wyoming

After figuring out which agency to contact and how much the process will cost, the next step is to simply contact the agency with a birth certificate request. Many states use an online third-party service for such requests.

This makes the process far easier and quicker than what would normally be possible with a state agency. To use this service or any online vital records office system, the name of the requestor and the name on the certificate that is being requested will be needed. Besides this, a government-issued ID and, if necessary, proof of relationship to the individual named on the document.

Once all this is provided the only thing left to do is provide payment and wait for the document to arrive in the mail.

What Do I Need to Get My Birth Certificate?

The exact information and documents that are needed to obtain a copy of your birth certificate will vary depending on the state. Since each state has its laws regarding the availability of vital records, each state will also require slightly different information to ensure that the requested records are ending up in the hands of an individual that is legally allowed to request them.

Screenshot of Massachusetts website page about Registry or Vital Records and Statistics with yellow arrow pointing to the checklist of what is needed.

This may sound intimidating but the process is relatively simple. Generally, a government-issued photo ID will be the only requirement when requesting a copy of your records. However, if requesting copies of someone else’s records such as a spouse or family member, it will also be required that the individual show some kind of proof of relationship to the individual.

In the case of a spouse this may be a marriage license and when it comes to other family members the vital records office will usually provide a list of accepted documents.

Is it Possible to Perform a Birth Certificate Search by Name?

As mentioned, birth certificates are not considered public records and there is not a searchable public database of birth certificates. Although it is possible to search for an individual’s criminal history by searching their name in various criminal databases, this is simply not possible when it comes to birth certificates as they are only available to the individual themselves and their immediate family members.

Screenshot of Family Search website page about searching historical records with yellow arrow pointing to the search form.

However, not all states have the same restrictions regarding birth certificates and birth records in general. One option is to use a background check service to find any public documents that match the name of a certain individual. Although this won’t necessarily return a birth record, it will likely give some kind of useful information.

This can be done most easily using the public database search at the top of this page will allow individuals to perform a name-based search for free.

Notification of Birth Registration vs Birth Certificate

When trying to locate birth records for an individual, many people will run across documents called birth registrations and will be wondering if they are the same as a birth certificate. Due to their name being extremely similar, many individuals will use these two terms interchangeably however they are slightly different.

Birth registration is simply the process of registering an individual’s birth with a government agency. This allows the agency to do things like issue a social security number5 and keep this information for census purposes.6 Another part of this process is the creation of a birth certificate which is then given to the parents of the newborn.

Essentially, birth registration is the process of registering an individual with the government and the birth certificate is given as proof that the process was completed.

How to Get a Certified Copy of a Birth Certificate

The best and quickest way to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate is to contact the vital records office7 in your state. Providing certified copies of an individual’s birth certificate is one of the most common requests that are made at these offices so the process should be both smooth and speedy.

First, find the website of your state’s vital records office using the list below.

Vital Records OfficeAlabama Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Alabama (AL)Alabama Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Alaska (AK)Alaska Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Arizona (AZ)Arizona Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Arkansas (AR)Arkansas Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office California (CA)California Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Colorado (CO)Colorado Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Connecticut (CT)Connecticut Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Delaware (DE)Delaware Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Florida (FL)Florida Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Georgia (GA)Georgia Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Hawaii (HI)Hawaii Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Idaho (ID)Idaho Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Illinois (IL)Illinois Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Indiana (IN)Indiana Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office  Iowa (IA)Iowa Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Kansas (KS)Kansas Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Kentucky (KY)Kentucky  Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Louisiana (LA)Louisiana Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Maine (ME)Maine Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Massachusetts (MA)Massachusetts Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Maryland (MD)Maryland Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Michigan (MI)Michigan Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Minnesota (MN)Minnesota Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Mississippi (MS)Mississippi Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Missouri (MO)Missouri Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Montana (MN)Montana Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Nebraska (NE)Nebraska Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Nevada (NV)Nevada Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office New Hampshire (NH)New Hampshire Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office New Jersey (NJ)New Jersey Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office New Mexico (NM)New Mexico Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office New York (NY)New York Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office North Carolina (NC)North Carolina Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office North Dakota (ND)North Dakota Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Ohio (OH)Ohio Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Oklahoma (OK)Oklahoma Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Oregon (OR)Oregon Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Pennsylvania (PA)Pennsylvania Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Rhode Island (RI)Rhode Island Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office South Carolina (SC)South Carolina Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office South Dakota (SD)South Dakota Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Tennessee (TN)Tennessee Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Texas (TX)Texas Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Utah (UT)Utah Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Vermont (VT)Vermont Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Virginia (VI)Virginia Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Washington (WA)Washington Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office West Virginia (WV)West Virginia Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Wisconsin (WI)Wisconsin Vital Records Office Website
Vital Records Office Wyoming (WY)Wyoming Vital Records Office Website

Once the website has been accessed, there will likely be a section titled “Order a certificate online,” or something similar. For example, the home page of the Alabama Vital Records Office9 has a section titled “order a certificate online,” selecting this link will take individuals to a third-party website that has detailed steps on how to order a new birth certificate if yours was damaged or misplaced.8

This third-party company, Vitalchek, is used by more than half the states in the country as a way to request vital records online quickly. For states that use this service, all vital records will need to be ordered through Vitalcheck. Not only does this make the entire process quicker, but it also allows individuals to monitor the process of the request and track the documents from Vitalcheck to the proper government agency for processing, and finally to your mailbox.

Although various factors can affect the process, Vitalchek will usually send out the records request the next business day, resulting in a total turnaround time of fewer than two weeks to obtain a certified copy.

Understanding the laws surrounding vital records can be fairly difficult, especially when it comes to obtaining birth records for someone other than yourself. Luckily, most states have easily navigable websites to make finding the necessary information as easy as possible. This digitization of records makes it easier to answer questions such as “How to Find Birth Records Free Online?”

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Find Birth Records for Free

How to Find Birth Records Free Online?

There is no official, national database for birth records that can be searched for free. Most states do not consider birth records to be public information, which means obtaining them will usually require a few additional steps. The only way to search for birth records online for free is by using a background check service that allows individuals to perform a search at no cost. A free searchable database is available at the top of this page.

Hospital Birth Records Search Free?

Hospitals will usually maintain records of individuals who were born at the hospital. However, these records are most often for billing purposes and the hospital’s records. There is no searchable database of hospital birth records as hospitals are unable to give out any kind of medical record due to federal laws.

How to Print Birth Certificate Online?

It is generally not possible to print a birth certificate online. A birth certificate is an official document and must be certified by a government agency before being sent directly to the individual to ensure its authenticity. Some birth records may be available to print but a home-printed birth certificate is not considered an official document.

Can I Search for Birth Records on Vital Records Gov?

Certain records can be searched on vital records gov. However, this website is specifically used for federal records. Almost all vital records will be held at the state level rather than the federal level with some exceptions such as certain military personnel or U.S. citizens that were born in another country.


References

1United States Department of Justice. (2022). Freedom of Information Act. FOIA.gov. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.foia.gov/>

2The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (n.d.). National Archives. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from <https://www.archives.gov/>

3U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2022). HIPAA for Individuals. HHS.gov. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/index.html>

4U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2022). National Center for Health Statistics. CDC. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm>

5The United States Social Security Administration. (2022). Home Page. Social Security. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.ssa.gov/>

6United States Census Bureau. (2021, December 16). Birth Records. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.census.gov/about/policies/foia/age_search_and_birth_records/birth_records.html>

7The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (2022). Vital Records. National Archives. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.archives.gov/research/vital-records>

8Alabama Department of Public Health. (2021, May 13). Vital Records. Alabama Public Health. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from <https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/vitalrecords/>

9Vital Records. (n.d.). Alabama Public Health. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from <https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/vitalrecords/>

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