What Are Vital Records And Where Can You Get Them?

a pile of vital records and where to get them

Published Sept. 4, 2022

What are vital records in the first place?

By definition, they’re essentially any sort of document kept by the government that records life events like births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. In the United States, vital records are kept and maintained by state or local governments. However, they are all collected by the National Vital Statistics System.

The Importance Of Vital Records

Any sort of vital record is useful because it serves as a direct extension of a person’s identity. In what sense? You see a vital record holds very detailed information about an individual’s life. As such, they’re a requirement for one to procure things like passports, driver’s licenses, and other essential documents and IDs.

Examples Of Vital Records:

  • Birth Certificates

  • Death Certificates

  • Mairrage Certificates

  • Divorce Certificates

  • Military Discharge Records

Quite interestingly, some jurisdictions also maintain official vital records for civil unions and other types of relationship setups. Furthermore, in addition to what’s mentioned above, there are a ton of other kinds of documents that you can define as a vital record.

Another thing to know is that vital records don’t have to be physical. In fact, the majority of vital records in the United States are already digitized and then printed upon request when needed.

Where Do You Get Vital Records?

a man in an office suite looking at 2 arrows point the left and the other to the right

Vital records are usually obtainable at your local vital records office. With that being said, not all of your vital records are available there. For instance, if you need to get your military discharge certificate, then you shall need to head to the nearest U.S Department of Veteran Affairs office.

So is it easy to get a vital record from an office of vital records?

Yes. It’s incredibly easy to procure vital records in the United States. You can even have them mailed right to your doorstep in most areas of the country. 

Alternatively, some states let you obtain vital records at the nearest vital statistics office. Sad to say, it’s not always sure that you’ll get the records you need on the same day even if you show up in person to get them.

How Much Do Vital Records Cost?

a man putting a coin in the glass with the coins in the table

The answer to this question depends on the state where you live in.

Different states have different rates for those wanting to obtain copies of vital records like birth certificates and marriage/divorce certificates. Meanwhile, there are also states that let you get vital records for free, provided that you have got all the necessary requirements.

Certified Vs. Uncertified Vital Records

An uncertified vital records certificate or any other similar document shall contain data from a certified vital record. However, an uncertified copy of a vital record cannot be used for legal purposes. As a result, it’s best that you always make sure you’re getting a certified copy.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what are vital records, then you should have no issues with getting them. In addition, it is important to mention once more how important they are. After all, they are a direct extension of your identity, and therefore, essential prerequisites for enrolling in school, getting a driver’s license, finding a job, and a plethora of other things.

Remember, you can have the majority of your vital records mailed to you. If payment is required, it’ll usually be via credit card. Needless to say, some states allow for different payment methods.

In addition, you can get vital records in person from the nearest vital records office. Remember though that doing this won’t necessarily mean that you’ll get your records on the same day. On top of that, showing up in person to get a vital record doesn’t entail that you shall be able to get it for free.

(Related: Where Can I Get Something Notarized?)

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What Are Vital Records And Where Can You Get Them?

About The Author

is an experienced blogger with a deep passion for content creation. He descends from a long line of lawyers, writers, and educators. Over the years, Chris has tackled all sorts of niches for a myriad of clients. As a result, millions of people worldwide have read and benefited from his content.