The 5 Easiest States for Accessing Vital Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

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:


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.


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.


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.


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