what are vital records

What are Vital Records? Vital Records FAQs

If you’re an adult, you’ve probably heard the term “vital record” at some point. But what are vital records? You may be more familiar with birth certificates as a vital record, but you may not know there are several types of vital records that are important in our day to day lives. While a birth certificate is the most common type of vital record, other types include death records, marriage certificates and divorce records. These official documents can and most likely will play an important role throughout our lives. Every person born in the U.S. must have a birth certificate. You’ll need these for identification and proof of citizenship. But not everyone needs a marriage certificate, and even fewer people will require a divorce record. Death certificates are issued for individuals who have passed, and are needed for heirs to close out accounts and settle estates. Below we’ve put together a vital records FAQ, as well as information on how to locate state vital records offices near you. 

What are Vital Records? Frequently Asked Questions About Vital Records

Q: What are vital records? 

A: Vital records are government issued records that document life events. These events include birth, death, marriage and divorce.

Q: Can anyone order another person’s vital record?

A: Most vital records can only be ordered by immediate family. This answer can vary depending on the scenario and may include individuals that have been legally assigned as guardians or have control of an estate. 

Q: Can I order any vital record online?

A: Because VitalChek is a government authorized service, obtaining certified copies of vital records can be done utilizing their services online. You also have the option of contacting the vital records office in the location of a person’s birth, death, marriage or divorce to learn how to obtain these copies in person.

Q: What does it mean to need a certified copy of a vital record? 

A: If you’re required to provide a copy of a vital record, chances are good you’ll need to obtain a certified copy. A certified copy is an official copy issued by a government agency that will have a raised or embossed seal and is often printed on special security paper. 

Q: How many certified copies of a vital record should I have?

A: Every scenario is different – this means you may need multiple copies of a death certificate to close out accounts, while you may only need one copy of a birth certificate or marriage certificate. It is difficult to say what your individual circumstances may require. 

Q: What if there is an error on one of my vital records? 

A: In most cases, contacting the vital records office that issued the vital record in question is your best first step. The process for amending a birth certificate is pretty straight forward. But for other vital records, the vital records office will be able to answer questions regarding incorrect information on other vital records. 

Q: How quickly can I get my vital records?

A: VitalChek helps provide customers with vital records by partnering with more than 400 vital records agencies across the U.S.  Processing times may vary based on the estimated processing time at the particular agency you records are coming from.

Q: Why do I need to provide an identity verification form?

A: In some cases, you may be required to submit further proof of identity to obtain a vital record utilizing our services. This is to ensure that we are only providing copies of vital records to individuals who are entitled to receive that record.. This ensures your records are not going to someone who may use your vital records for nefarious purposes. 

Q: I ordered my vital record but it’s taking much longer than I was told – what do I do?

A: VitalChek is a government authorized service that works in conjunction with vital records offices all across the nation. This means that processing times are reliant on the vital records office your record is coming from. If you need to check on the status of your order, it is best to reach out by messaging VitalChek on Facebook. You can also inquire about the status of your order online on the VitalChek website.

Q: Is it actually safe to order my vital records online?

A: VitalChek takes the security of your identity very seriously. It is our top priority to ensure your personal information is safe when utilizing our services.  This is why you are required to answer a series of questions about your identity to order, and it’s why in some instances customers may be required to provide further proof of identity through identity verification documents.

VC video about ordering online securely

Ordering vital records online can be convenient, safe, and secure. Hopefully these vital records FAQs have helped you understand the process a bit better, and can put your identity safety questions to rest. If you have further questions regarding the importance of vital records or what you need to do to obtain them, please comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them or direct you to someone who can!


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