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NC Vital Records: FAQs

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Note: There are additional FAQs related to changes and amendments on the Change a Record page.


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1. What is a certified copy of a certificate?

A certified copy of a certificate issued by North Carolina Vital Records includes a statement certifying that it is a true copy or true abstract of the original record held by this office. It also has the State Registrar's signature and a raised Vital Records seal. A certified copy is required for most legal or official purposes for which a copy of a vital record is requested. For instance, a certified copy can be used to obtain apostille services through the NC Secretary of State's office.

Certified copies of vital records are not available to everyone. North Carolina law NCGS 130A-93(c) specifies that certified copies of certificates are available only to the following people:

  • A person requesting a copy of his or her own vital records or that of the person's spouse, sibling, direct ancestor, direct descendant, stepparent, or stepchild
  • A person seeking information for a legal determination of personal or property rights or
  • An authorized agent, attorney, or legal representative of a person described above

NOTE: Proof of identity and proof of eligibility are required.

Certified copies of an adopted person's birth certificate are available only to the adoptee, the adoptive parents, the adoptee's children, and the adoptee's spouse, brothers, and sisters (proof of relationship may be required). The terms parent, brother and sister mean the adoptive parent, brother, or sister. Those terms do not mean a natural parent, brother, or sister. Original birth certificates of adoptees showing the adoptee's original name and the birth mother's name are in legally sealed files and are available only by court order.

 2. I'm a resident of a foreign country that requires an apostille. How do I obtain an apostille?

The NC Office of Vital Records cannot provide or facilitate the apostille service, if required. Obtaining an apostille for a certificate is handled by the requester after receipt of the certificate. The NC Secretary of State's office provides apostille services in North Carolina and will only accept certified copies of certificates (see above).

 3. What is an uncertified copy of a certificate?

An uncertified copy of a certificate issued by North Carolina Vital Records will be on plain (white) paper and will be clearly stamped "Uncertified". It will not have a raised Vital Records seal.

Uncertified copies are for informational purposes only and are not accepted for legal purposes. They are available to anyone who requests them unless legal restrictions apply. You must be able to provide us with all of the information requested on the application and pay the appropriate search fees.

 4. What is the cost to order a certificate?

Fees vary by search, service, number of copies requested, and whether you order through VitalChek. See the fees page for an itemization of costs.

 5. What is the official site to order a birth certificate?

There are 3 options for ordering NC birth certificates:

  1. Order through the NC Office of Vital Records: Order a Certificate.
  2. County Register of Deeds where the birth occurred.
  3. VitalChek is the only authorized vendor through which constituents may submit a remote order for a state-issued, certified birth certificate.

Before placing your certificate order, we strongly recommend you check the processing dates page for estimated processing and shipping dates to determine if estimated timeframes would meet your needs. If not, you may want to consider ordering a birth, death or marriage certificate from the Register of Deeds in the county where the event occurred.

Note: The processing dates page does not apply to amendments, which can take longer to process than regular certificate requests because of additional research and steps often involved.

 6. What forms of ID may I use to obtain a certificate?

Due to identity theft and other fraudulent use of vital records, ID of the person requesting a certificate is REQUIRED. Requests that do not include ID will be returned. You MUST include a legible photocopy of one of the photo IDs listed below with your request:

  • Current state-issued driver’s license (address must match requestor’s address on application)
  • Current state-issued non-driver photo ID card (address must match requestor’s address on application)
  • Current Passport or Visa (must include photo)
  • Current U.S. military ID
  • Current Department of Corrections photo ID card dated within the last year
  • Current state or U.S. government agency photo ID card (for persons requesting certificates as part of that agency’s business)
  • Current student ID card with copy of transcript

If you do not have one of the IDs listed above, you must provide legible photocopies of TWO of the following (must be two DIFFERENT forms of ID):

  • Temporary driver’s license
  • Current utility bill with current address
  • Car registration or title with current address
  • Bank statement with current address
  • Pay stub with current address
  • Income tax return/W-2 form showing current address
  • Letter from government agency dated within the last six months and showing current address
  • State-issued concealed weapon permit showing current address

If you are unable to meet our ID requirements, a family member or other person who is entitled to obtain the certificate, and who can meet the ID requirements, may request it. A list of persons entitled to obtain certificates is located here under "What is a certified copy of a certificate?"

 7. How long will it take to receive my certificate order?

Processing and shipping dates through NC Vital Records vary by order type and method. Check current processing dates. Note: The processing dates page does not apply to amendments, which can take longer to process than regular certificate requests because of additional research and steps often involved.

Before placing your certificate order, we strongly recommend you check the processing dates page for estimated processing and shipping dates to determine if estimated timeframes would meet your needs. If not, you may want to consider ordering a birth, death or marriage certificate from the Register of Deeds in the county where the event occurred.

 8. How do I check the status of my certificate order?

Order request volume is high. We suggest you view the estimated NC Vital Records processing and shipping dates, which vary by order type and method. Note: The processing dates page does not apply to amendments, which can take longer than regular certificate requests because of additional research and process often involved.

If your order type and method is outside the estimated processing and shipping window or you need to check order status, there is a status inquiry form for regular certificate requests (the inquiry form does not apply to amendment requests).

 9. Why has my payment been processed but it’s been weeks or months and I haven’t received my certificate order?

Our intake and ordering process goes through multiple steps. There is a $24 search (and one copy) fee that is non-refundable, even if a record is not found, so we must process payments before completing the order. Due to order volume and system migrations from paper to electronic, there will usually be a time gap between your payment being processed and orders being completed and delivered to you, especially if there are issues to be researched and addressed with orders (e.g., amendments to certificates). If a record is not found during the search, then we will be in touch. Payments above the $24 search fee can be refunded when a record is not found and an order is cancelled. See our current processing times for different certificate and order types.

 10. Can I order certificates by email?

Sorry, we are not able to accept requests by email.

 11. What should I do if my child or I was born in North Carolina but there is not a birth certificate on file?

 12. How do I get a birth certificate if I was not born in North Carolina?

  • Born inside the United States
    Birth certificates are maintained by each state for the people who are born in that state. If a person was not born in North Carolina, contact the state vital records office in the state where they were born to get a copy of the birth certificate. See the National Center for Health Statistics: Where to Write for Vital Records.
  • Born outside the United States
    If a person was born outside the United States, but their parents were United States citizens at the time of the birth, see U.S. Department of State.

 13. How do I get a copy of a birth certificate after adoption?

See Change a Record, Changes to Birth Certificates Pursuant to an Adoption. Certified copies of an adopted person's birth certificate are available only to the adoptee, the adoptive parents, the adoptee's children, and the adoptee's spouse, brothers, and sisters (proof of relationship may be required). The terms parent, brother and sister mean the adoptive parent, brother, or sister.

 14. How do I get a copy of an original birth certificate before adoption?

Original birth certificates of adoptees showing the adoptee's original name and the birth mother's name are in legally sealed files and are available only by court order. Contact the clerk of court that handles adoptions in the county that processed the adoption to find out what they require to have the record unsealed.

 15. Where else in North Carolina can I get copies of vital records?

  • Birth, Marriage, Death: Contact the county register of deeds office where the event occurred. (Note: NC Vital Records is the only office from which you can obtain a birth certificate for an adopted child.)
  • Divorce: Contact the clerk of court in the county where the divorce is filed.

 16. What if the record I seek is older than those held by Vital Records?

 17. How do I correct or change a certificate? Who can I contact about making a change to the record?

See the Change a Record page for different amendment types. If there is not a state file number attached, you can contact your local health department or the appropriate contact for the change types listed on the Change a Record page. If there is already a state file number for the record, the request will be an amendment and you will need to contact the county register of deeds.

 18. How do I know if the health department received my payment for an amendment?

Amendments are not done at the health department, they are done at the county register of deeds office. You will need to call the county register of deeds to see if they received your payment.

 19. How do I get a Social Security number for my new baby?

If you requested a Social Security Number for your baby during completion of the birth certificate at the hospital, N.C. Vital Records will register the birth certificate and will send the necessary information to the Social Security Administration.

If you did not request a number at the hospital, or if you have any questions, you will need to contact your local Social Security Office.

 20. If I want to get married in North Carolina, do I come to your office?

No. You should contact a register of deeds office. They can issue the marriage license to you and explain the requirements for getting married in North Carolina. Once you've been married, you will be able to obtain copies of your marriage certificate from that register of deeds office or from N.C. Vital Records.

 21. Other Questions

See the contacts page for specific phone numbers and other online contact options, such as certificate status inquiries and general inquiries.

Last Modified: August 9, 2022