Birth and death certificates—typically prepared by physicians, funeral directors, other professional attendants, or hospital authorities—are permanently filed in the central vital statistics office of the state, city, or outlying area where the event occurred. Often, they’re kept by the state health department. To replace a birth or death certificate for a person who was born or died in your state, contact the main office of your county government and ask where the vital records are kept, or click on http://vitalrec.com/usmap.html and select your state. In some states, these records are even available electronically.
For a certified copy of a birth or death certificate, you’ll likely be charged a fee. You’ll also be asked to provide some basic information:
- Birth certificate: the name of the person born, date of birth, place of birth (city or county), father’s name, and mother’s name (including maiden name)
- Death certificate: the name of the person who died, date of death, and place of death (city or county)
For birth and death records outside your state, visit http://www.vitalrec.com/usmap.html. Click on the state where the person was born or died and follow the directions for ordering the document. The federal government does not maintain files of such records.
Outside the U.S.: For birth records of U.S. citizens born abroad, write for replacement Form DS-1350 (Certification of Birth), which contains the same information as Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Contact:
- U.S. Department of State
- Passport Services
- Vital Records Section
- 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510
- Washington, DC 20522-1705
For a replacement FS-240, enclose a notarized affidavit by a parent or legal representative, including name, date, place of birth, and the whereabouts of the original form. The U.S. Department of State charges fees for processing both the DS-1350 and FS-240 applications.
You can also get a Report of the Death of an American Citizen through the above address.
Return to List
- a. Which Papers to Keep
- b. Where to Keep Papers
- c. How Long to Keep Papers
- d. When to Update Papers
e. How to Replace Papers
- e.1. Birth and death certificate
- e.2. Citizenship and naturalization papers
- e.3. Driver’s license
- e.4. Federal income tax return
- e.5. Insurance policies
- e.6. Marriage licenses, marriage dissolutions, adoption decrees
- e.7. Military discharge papers
- e.8. Passport
- e.9. Property deeds
- e.10. Savings bonds and notes
- e.11. Social Security card
- e.12. Vehicle title
- e.13. Will
Organize Your Important Household Papers belongs to a series called Legally Secure Your Financial Future. The series also includes information to help you communicate with others and begin preparing your estate plan.