Birth and Death Records Frequently Asked Questions

For legal questions about Texas vital records, please consult an attorney. For questions about ordering birth and death records online, see the Frequently Asked Questions page. The questions and answers below address general information about getting birth and death records.

Who can request a certified copy of a birth or death certificate?

For births within the past 75 years and deaths within the past 25 years, only the immediate family members of the person whose name is on the birth certificate or death certificate are eligible to request a copy.  Those with any other relationship must provide legal documentation, such as a court order establishing guardianship. If you are the legal representative of a qualified applicant, send us a release which documents a direct and tangible interest in the record you are requesting.

Who is considered an immediate family member?

Any of the following relationships by blood or marriage are considered to be immediate family members:

  • self
  • child
  • parent
  • brother/sister
  • grandparent
  • spouse

How do I get a copy of the record if I am not an immediate family member?

You may send in a written, notarized statement signed by an immediate family member.  The statement must give permission to Vital Statistics Unit Department of State Health Services to release a certified copy of the certificate to you and must include a photocopy of the ID of the individual granting you the authorization.  The statement must also identify you by your full name, and you must present a copy of your photo ID with the notarized statement.

How can I order vital records from other states?

Visit the National Center for Health Statistics website for information on requesting vital records from other states.

What will you accept as a valid ID?

See Section 181.28 of the the Texas Administrative Code for a complete list of acceptable forms of identification.

What if I do not have a photo ID?

If you do not have a photo ID, an alternative would be to send a copy of the photo ID of an immediate family member, who will then become the applicant.   See Section 181.28 of the the Texas Administrative Code for a complete list of acceptable forms of identification.  Applications received without photo ID or acceptable alternatives cannot be processed.


Why do I have to send a photo ID?

Birth and death certificates are not open records. Access to birth certificates is restricted to qualified applicants for 75 years from the date of birth.  Access to death certificates is restricted for 25 years from the date of death.  A valid photo ID is required to prove your identity and to prove that you are a qualified applicant.

Can you find my birth certificate for free and tell me if it shows the correct name?  Will I have to pay just to find out whether you even have my birth certificate on file?

We cannot search records for free.  Our fees are searching fees.  They are not refundable or transferable, even if the record is not found or is identified incorrectly.


What records are available?

The Vital Statistics Unit Department of State Health Services can provide records for births or deaths that were filed in Texas from 1903 to the present.  Visit the National Center for Health Statistics website for certificates for an out-of-state birth or death.

What do I do if I need a birth certificate or death certificate to give to a foreign government (an "apostille")?

Visit our Apostille page for instructions.


Full Page
Last updated July 13, 2016