Reference Information for County Vital Records Offices
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In order to get a certified copy of a birth or death record, a person must have tangible interest in that record. Limiting issuance of certified copies to people with tangible interest is one way to combat identity theft and fraud.
Because some birth records are confidential, access to those records is limited even further.
After a child born in Minnesota is adopted, the district court completes a Certificate of Adoption form and mails the form, along with the $40 fee, to the Office of Vital Records at the Minnesota Department of Health. The original birth record is replaced with a record showing the new information. The original record is confidential and may be released only to a birth parent listed on the record, the adoptee if the birth parent(s) have given written consent, or by court order.
If the child was born in another country and adopted by people who live in Minnesota, the adoptive parents file the adoption papers from the country of birth with the district court in the county where they live. The district court completes a Certificate of Adoption form and mails the form, along with the $40 fee, to the Office of Vital Records. The information provided on the Certificate of Adoption form is used to create a Minnesota birth record. The birth certificate for this child will state that the certificate is not evidence of United States citizenship.
For additional information, see the MDH Birth Records After an Adoption webpage.
There are two ways for an unmarried father to be added to his child’s birth record.
Minnesota Voluntary Recognition of Parentage
Parents who are not married to each other may use the Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form to voluntarily establish paternity for a child born to them. When both parents agree that the man is the biological father, they sign the form. The form must be filed with the Office of Vital Records so that the father's name is added to the birth record. There is no fee to file an ROP. Certified copies of ROPs are issued only by the Office of Vital Records.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services administers the Recognition of Parentage Program. ROP forms and other parentage forms may be found on the Minnesota Department of Human Services Forms website.
A paternity adjudication is a court order legally establishing paternity. When a certified copy of the order and a $40 fee are submitted to the Office of Vital Records, the original birth record is replaced with a record showing the father’s information. The original record is confidential and cannot be issued without court-ordered direction.
For additional information, see the MDH Birth Records and Paternity webpage.
An amendment is any change made to an item that prints on a birth certificate. An amendment is required to make changes to items that print on the birth certificate after (a) issuance of a birth certificate or (b) after the subject is one year old, whichever occurs first. A person authorized to request amendment of items that print on the birth certificate must:
- read the Birth Amendment Packet (PDF). The packet includes the amendment application, instructions for filling out the application and, what the customer needs to know about "supporting documents"
- gather the documents to support the requested changes
- fill out the Birth Record Amendment Application included in the amendment packet
- sign the Birth Record Amendment Application form in front of a notary public
- mail the notarized Birth Record Amendment Application, supporting documents and the required fees to the Office of Vital Records at the address on the amendment application
For additional information, see the MDH Birth Record Amendments webpage.
A correction is a change made to a birth or death record before a certificate has been issued and within one year of the date of the event.
Changes to health information on a birth record and medical information on a death record, even after certificates have been issued, are also considered corrections. These corrections must be done by the Office of Vital Records.
Birth records The legal and demographic information on most birth records is public. Information on records for children born to unmarried parents is confidential unless the mother indicated at the time of birth that the record should be public. All health information and social security numbers are private.
All data on a death record is public, including the medical data and decedent’s social security number.
Fetal death reports
The data on fetal death reports is classified the same as birth records.
The items that print on a death certificate may be corrected, or, if an item is missing, it may be added. Changes or additions made to the items that print on a death certificate after a certificate has been issued, or more than a year after death, are called death record amendments.
- Death record amendment requests made within five years after the death may be processed by county vital records offices.
- Death record amendment requests made five years or more after the death must sent to the Office of Vital Records.
A change to medical information on a death record, even after a certificate has been issued, is considered a correction. Changes to medical information must be made by the Office of Vital Records.
A family that chooses not to use the services of a funeral home should register the death directly with the Office of Vital Records. Please refer families to the Office of Vital Records Help Desk at 651-201-5970.
A record of birth, death, or fetal death, that is not registered with the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Vital Records within one year of the birth, death, or fetal death, is considered 'delayed'.
'Delayed registrations' require supporting documentation and payment of a fee. Customers who need to file a delayed birth or death must contact the Office of Vital Records Help Desk at 651-201-5970 for forms and information.
A birth occurring outside of a birthing facility must be registered directly with the Office of Vital Records. The midwife or parent registering the birth must contact the Office of Vital Records Help Desk at 651-201-5970.
Each county is required to report monthly and annual counts of marriage certificates filed to the Office of Vital Records at the Minnesota Department of Health.
A parent notice or “parent verification” form is printed with the information that will appear on the child's birth certificate. Parents can review the information that will be on the birth certificate for accuracy and use the form to request corrections (if needed) and to order certificates.
All government records must be maintained in accordance with a record retention schedule. Birth and death records are maintained forever, but many of the documents you deal with daily should not be kept indefinitely. Retention Schedule Number 04-115 (PDF) was created in 2004 for use by local issuance offices to help manage birth and death records.
For more information about county records management and retention please contact the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC).
Complimentary VA certificates are available from Minnesota vital records offices. The VA certificates help families and veterans to present claims to United States Veterans Administration or in connection with any veteran’s organization or the Department of Veterans Affairs. The requester must complete an application and show acceptable identification to obtain one or more VA certificates. Note: The requester must “write in” the request for a VA birth certificate on the application.
VA certificates are available to:
- The surviving spouse or next of kin of a veteran
- Service officers of veteran's organizations chartered by the U.S. Congress or the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs
County vital records offices must process requests for VA certificates by selecting “Certified birth certificate (VA)” or “Certified death certificate (VA)” in MR&C. Do not waive fees to issue regular certificates.