What are Vital Records?
Vital Records are birth, death, and marriage documents. They are legal documents that save information about the vital events of people in our society. Certified copies of records are used for many purposes, such as to establish proof of age, to receive social security benefits, and to receive death benefits from life insurance policies.
Who can apply or obtain Vital Records?
Vital records are confidential. Therefore, only those individuals who have what is called a "Direct and Tangible Interest" in the records may have access to records. The following individuals and/or groups make-up those having direct and tangible interest:
- The person named on the certificate, a member of his/her immediate family, his guardian, or an authorized agent of these individuals; or
- Attorneys-at-law, title examiners, or members of legally incorporated genealogical societies, in the conduct of their official duties; or
- Persons requiring information for the determination or protection of a personal or property right; or
- A person who has been granted a court order instructing the registrar to provide disclosure.
Note: A direct and tangible interest shall not be demonstrated by firms, agencies, or individuals requesting information to be used for commercial purposes.
How and where do I obtain copies? - Birth, Marriage, Deaths
There are two ways to request copies: by mail or in person
By mail: You can obtain a copy of a record for a birth or marriage from the City or Town where the event occurred. You can also obtain a copy of a record for a birth or marriage that occurred less than 100 years ago or a death that occurred less than 50 years ago by writing to the Office of Vital Records, Room 101 Cannon Building, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908-5097. Please be advised that in most cases, you will receive your records more quickly from the City and Town locations.
Fill out a request form here: vital request form. Print the form, attach payment and photocopy of identification. A self-addressed, stamped envelope will aid in a quick return to you.
In-person: requests may be made in person at the office of the town clerk where the event occurred. You can go to the RI Department of Health Vital Records website for more information.
Using your certified copy in a foreign country
If you will be using your certified copy in a foreign country, (e.g., adopting a child, applying for dual citizenship or transferring property) then you must obtain your certified copies at the State Office of Vital Records. The copies must be signed personally by either the State Registrar or the Deputy State Registrar. In addition, you may need an apostille or certification from the Secretary of State, Notary Division. Please call that Office at (401) 222-1487 for more information.
For records older than those described above, call the State Archives at (401) 222-2353 or the City or Town where the event occurred.
What is required to obtain various records?
- To receive a certified copy of a birth, death or marriage record via mail you must include the following information:
- name on the birth, death or marriage record,
- date and city/town where the event occurred,
- your relationship to the person named on the record,
- why you need the record,
- for births only, provide the name of the father and the mother’s maiden name,
- your signature and printed name,
- your mailing address and your home phone number in case we need to contact you,
- a clear photo copy of your drivers license or other photo identification.
The fee for a certified copy is $20.00.
Additional copies of the same record issued at the same time are $15.00 each.
How long does it take for me to receive my vital record?
In Person: If the record is available in our office, you may wait while the certificate is prepared.
By mail: the certificate will be mailed to you the same day we receive your request.
What if I was born in another State?
If you were born in another state and need a copy of your birth certificate, please go to the National Center for Health Statistics publication Where to Write for Vital Records, an alphabetical directory of State and territory information, or inquire at the town clerk’s office.