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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.

Certified copies of vital records are not available to everyone. North Carolina law [NCGS 130A-93(c)] off-site link 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 not available.

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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 fees.

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 on the FAQs page under What is a certified copy of a certificate?

Can I order certificates by email?

We are not able to accept requests by email.

What should I do if my child or I was born in North Carolina but don't have a birth certificate on file?

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 you were not born in North Carolina, you should contact the state vital records office in the state where you were born to get a copy of your birth certificate. There is another website that can help you find out where you should write for vital records across the United States off-site link.
  • Born outside the United States
    If you were born outside the United States, but your parents were United States citizens at the time of your birth, you can write to:

U.S. Department of State
Washington Passport Agency
1111 19th Street NW, Suite 300
Washington DC 20522-1705
(202) 647-0518

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

  • Birth, Marriage, Death: Contact the county register of deeds off-site link office where the event occurred. For births that occurred in Mecklenburg County, check with the county health department off-site link. (Be aware that N.C. Vital Records is the only place to get a birth certificate for an adopted child.)
  • Divorce: Contact the clerk of court off-site link in the county where the divorce is filed.

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

How do I correct or change a certificate?

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

The Social Security Administration allows you to request a Social Security number for your baby during completion of the birth certificate at the hospital. If you requested a Social Security Number for your baby, N.C. Vital Records will register the birth certificate and will send the necessary information to Social Security. This process takes approximately 90 days from the date of birth. Social Security will then send your baby’s card by mail. This takes approximately 7 to 10 additional days.

If your baby was born within the last 90 days, and you need the Social Security Number immediately, you may contact the register of deeds office in the county where your baby was born to obtain a certified copy of the birth certificate. You must then contact your local Social Security Office for the additional requirements necessary to obtain a Social Security Number. If you did not request a number at the hospital, you will need to contact your local Social Security Office off-site link.

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

No. You should contact a register of deeds office off-site link. 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.

Other Questions

Call N.C. Vital Records at (919) 733-3000 and ask to speak with someone who can answer questions about your specific request.