How To Get A Copy of A Birth, Death, Marriage, or Civil Union Certificate

You can apply for a certified copy of a birth, death, marriage, or civil union record in person or by mail. To do so:

  1. Fill out an application form (birth death marriage/civil union).
  2. Mail the form to the address listed on the form or bring it to the appropriate office (see below).

If you were born in Rhode Island and are 25 years or older as of July 1, 2012, you can apply for a non-certified copy of a pre-adoption birth record by mail now and in person starting July 2, 2012. (more)

Where To Go

City and town clerk offices have records for all the births, deaths, marriages, and civil unions that occur in those cities and towns. All 39 cities and towns can also provide copies of most birth certificates for anyone born in the state on or after January 1, 1960. The State Office of Vital Records can supply electronic copies for any vital record in the state, with proper identification. The State Office is the only place that can issue non-certified copies of pre-adoption birth records. (directions)

Birth and marriage records 100 years or older and death records 50 years or older are considered public records and may be obtained from the city or town hall where the event happened or through the Rhode Island State Archives.

Access To Records

Vital records are confidential. Only individuals who have what is called a "direct and tangible interest" in the records can access them. A relative with access to your records who has a government picture identification may request your record. (more)

Identification

To obtain a certified copy of a record, you must present valid picture identification issued by a governmental organization. (more)

Fees

The fee for a certified copy of a vital record (from state or local registrars) is $20. Additional copies of the same record issued at the same time are $15.00 each. Per Rhode Island General Law, the fee provides for a search of two consecutive calendar years under one name and for issuance of a certified copy of a birth, fetal death, death, marriage, or civil union record. (more)

Turnaround Time

It will take six to eight weeks to process your request and mail your certified copy to you. If your request is urgent and you are requesting a record from the State Office of Vital Records, you can request rush service for an additional $7. Please write RUSH on your envelope . Rush requests will be processed within five business days after receipt of request. These times may vary depending upon the volume of requests received by the office.

Please note that if you are applying for a non-certified copy of a pre-adoption birth record before July 2012, the record cannot be released to you until July 2012.

Applying Without A Form

You may receive a certified copy of a record in the mail without using an application form, but you must provide the following information:

  • the name on the birth, death, marriage, or civil union record,
  • the 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, the name of the father and the mother’s maiden name,
  • your signature and printed name, and
  • your mailing address and home phone number, in case we need to contact you.

Using Certified Copies Abroad

If you will be using your certified copy in a foreign country (e.g. for adopting a child, applying for dual citizenship, or transferring property), you may need an apostille, which legalizes a document for international use. (more)