The 5 Easiest States for Vital Records

The 5 Easiest States for Vital Records

When it comes to ease of obtaining your ancestors' vital records, not all states are created equal. Here are the states that make it simple to get them.

Your access to state-level vital records can vary greatly from state to state. We looked at restrictions, wait times and online availability in every state, and found the five easiest places for genealogists to find answers about their ancestors’ vital events. Consider yourself lucky if you have family in:

California

The Golden State has a relatively early start to statewide vital records, in 1905, and places no restrictions on informational copies. It also enjoys extensive indexes on multiple websites.

Iowa

The combo of zero restrictions for non-certified copies and at least some records back to 1880 put Iowa atop the list, along with online indexes and some images.

New Jersey

Statewide registration here started way back in 1848. Non-immediate family can access edited versions of recent records for genealogical use. Online indexes are a mixed bag, but enough to make our top five.

Vermont

Already blessed with extensive town records, Vermont has no restrictions on informational copies of post-1896 statewide records. They’re also widely indexed and imaged online.

Washington

No ID needed to request these records, which begin with births and deaths in 1907. They’re extensively indexed online.

Untangling vital records

Wildly varying access rules and availability make a tangled maze of your ancestors’ state-level vital records. Let us guide you through it. 

What to see what your state offers?

See each website’s statewide vital record holdings in our extended chart, a free PDF download.

The chart is a PDF file, which you can view using the free Adobe Reader software. On a PC, right click the index link to Save As to your desktop. On a Mac, Control-click to Save Link As to your desktop. (Note, not all features will function using Preview.)

Once you’ve submitted your e-mail address and clicked “Click my Free Download,” you’ll receive an e-mail with a link to the downloads.

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