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How to Find a Birth Record in Pennsylvania?
What Are Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
A birth record in Pennsylvania is official legal documentation of the summary of a person's birth and proves that the birth occurred in Pennsylvania. A birth record qualifies an individual to obtain a birth certificate. A Pennsylvania birth certificate is printed on specialized security paper and contains a raised seal. It is a vital document that is used to prove identity in applications for a passport, employment, driver's license, social security card, and school enrollment.
Proper birth documentation is especially important to the government's efforts of effectively planning, delivering adequate services, and allocating resources across all development sectors. Birth records indexing in Pennsylvania started in 1906.
A Pennsylvania birth record contains:
- Date of birth
- Time of birth
- Place of birth
- Child's full name
- Mother's name
- Father's name
- Child's gender
- Type of birth
- Mother's marital status
- Birth registration number
How to Find and Request Birth Records Online in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania birth records are not open to the public. Therefore, members of the public cannot look up birth records. The state allows eligible individuals to obtain birth records through its only authorized third-party vendor. Placing birth record requests online is very convenient and offers a fast method of obtaining certified copies of birth records. The third-party vendor service is available seven days a week, 24 hours of the day. All major credit cards are accepted by the vendor. The online ordering service provider also allows requesters to choose between several delivery options. Note that delivery options may incur additional fees, depending on the requester's selection. Additional transaction fee also applies for the service provided exclusive of the statutory birth record copy fee.
Proof of identity is required before a request can be completed via the online ordering service. The status of requests can only be verified after two business days from the date requests were submitted. If the reason for a request is not listed in the online ordering drop-down box options, the requester is not eligible to place an order for that record online.
Persons who have ordered birth records online and have experienced a problem in obtaining the records must contact the third-party vendor directly for a resolution. Note that credit card transactions are not handled directly by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Such transactions are between the requester and the third-party service provider.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:
- The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
- The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.
How to Get Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania birth records are available to eligible requesters by mail or in person upon payment of the appropriate fees and providing valid identification. Pennsylvania considers the following valid identification:
- Pennsylvania Driver’s License
- Pennsylvania ID Card
- Driver’s license issued by another U.S. State
- Photo Identification Card issued by another U.S. State, jurisdiction, or territory
Expired IDs are not accepted. If a requester cannot provide a valid driver's license or other government-issued photo ID, two current documents verifying the name and current address of the requester may be provided. These include:
- Lease/Rental Agreement
- Utility Bill
- Vehicle Registration or insurance policy
- Tax Return/W-2 form
- Social Security Statement
- Bank or Credit Card Statement
The Division of Vital Records (DVR) grants a concession in limited circumstances for persons who cannot provide any of the required documents. In such instances, requesters must contact the Pennsylvania DVR for further assistance.
Requesters must provide as much information as possible when submitting a request for a birth record. This is to enable the Department of Health to locate the specific record promptly. If a requested record cannot be located, the requester will be issued a "No Record Certification of Birth".
Pennsylvania's Division of Vital Records offers a multi-year birth record search option for those who do not know the exact date of birth. An eligible applicant can request a search to have two to ten birth years alphabetically indexed for a fee.
How to Get Pennsylvania Birth Records in Person?
To obtain a Pennsylvania birth record in person, visit one of the Vital Records Offices. Many locations are currently closed to walk-in requests due to restrictions placed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, five Vital Records are open to in-person services by appointment only. The locations are in Erie, Harrisburg, New Castle, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. The addresses are:
Erie Public Office
Division of Vital Records
1910 West 26th Street
Erie, PA 16508-1148
Phone: (814) 871-4261
Fax: (814) 871-4809
Harrisburg Public Office
Division of Vital Records
555 Walnut Street, First Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1914
Phone: (717) 772-3480
Fax: (717) 787-7100
New Castle Public Office
Division of Vital Records
105 Nesbitt Road
New Castle, PA 16105
Phone: (724) 656-3100
Fax: (717) 213-6817
Philadelphia Public Office
Division of Vital Records
110 North 8th Street; Suite 108
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2412
Phone: (215) 560-3054
Fax: (215) 560-6027
Pittsburgh Public Office
Division of Vital Records
411 7th Avenue, Suite 360
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1973
Phone: (412) 565-5113
Fax: (412) 565-7783
To schedule an appointment with any of these five offices, complete a Vital Records Appointment Request Form and an Application for a Birth Certificate. The Birth Certificate Application form is also available to be completed at any of the Vital Records locations. Email or fax the completed forms to the location information on the Vital Records Appointment Form. The public health office will contact the requester to set up an appointment after their application has been received and processed. Requesters are advised to arrive no more than five minutes prior to their scheduled appointment time.
Valid identification and payment in the form of a credit card, check, or money order made payable to "VITAL RECORDS" are required to be provided by the requester. Cash or credit cards are not accepted for in-person order payments. Note that office hours at all locations are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except on state holidays.
How to Get Pennsylvania Birth Records by Mail?
To obtain a Pennsylvania birth record by mail:
- Complete a Birth Certificate Application Form or the Application for a Birth Certificate with Fees Waived Under the Disaster Declaration Form (If eligible)
- Include valid identification
- Include a check or money order made out to "VITAL RECORDS" for the exact amount of the order. Cash or credit cards are not accepted.
- Include a valid email address to receive notification that the application was received
- Submit completed and signed application, valid identification, and payment in mail to:
Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103
The address on the identification provided must match the mailing address provided in the application form. Persons living in a treatment facility, halfway house, or homeless shelter must enclose a letter on the organization's letterhead verifying that they are temporarily residing at their location and that their address may be used to receive the requested record.
Individuals who want to search for birth records from multiple years must complete the Application for Multi-year Search of Birth Records. Enclose completed application, proper fees, and valid government-issued photo ID to the mailing address of the Division of Vital Records.
Where Can I Find Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
Birth records in Pennsylvania are maintained by the Division of Vital Records, Department of Health. Birth record requests can be placed to any of the state's Public Offices. Information on birth records filed in Pennsylvania before 1906 (public birth records) can be obtained by contacting the appropriate Pennsylvania County Courthouse. All certified copies of birth records are issued by the Division of Vital Records, regardless of whether they are public records or not.
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in Pennsylvania?
An eligible applicant for a Pennsylvania birth record must be 18 years old or an emancipated minor and include the following:
- The person named on the record
- The spouse of the person named on the record
- The parent or stepparent of the person named on the record. Such persons must submit a marriage certificate as proof of relationship to the person named on the record
- A brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister of the person named on the record
- A son or daughter of the person named on the record
- Stepson or stepdaughter of the person named on the record. Such persons must submit the parent's marriage certificate as proof of relationship.
- A grandparent or great-grandparent of the person named on the record
- Grandchild or great-grandchild of the person named on the record
- A person who has obtained the power of attorney
- An attorney or legal representative of the person named on the record
- If the person named on the record is deceased, a family member not listed above, who can provide a copy of the death certificate
Under Pennsylvania law, it is unlawful to obtain a birth record in the state under false pretenses.
How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in Pennsylvania?
In accordance with the Pennsylvania Administrative Code of 1929, a Pennsylvania birth certificate costs $20. An order placed online attracts an additional $10 service fee and other delivery fees if UPS overnight shipping service is selected. Pennsylvania offers a fee waiver for members of the United States Armed Forces. To qualify for this waiver, the requester or the requester's spouse (also extends to widow or widower if not remarried) must be in active service. An honorable discharge from service also qualifies such persons for a fee waiver.
Note that the fee is only waived when the request is for the registrant's birth record, the spouse's birth record, or the birth record of a dependent child. Supporting documentation will be required when applying for a fee waiver for a dependent child above the age of 18. Fee waivers only cover the cost of birth certificates and not service fees or UPS delivery fees. The armed forces fee waiver does not apply to genealogical requests.
A request to search multi-year birth records (two to ten years) alphabetically indexed costs $45. This is inclusive of the fee for one certification. Additional spans of two to ten years are indexed at a rate of $25.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Birth Certificate in Pennsylvania?
Birth records can be obtained within an hour when walk-in requests are made at any Public Office location of the Division of Vital Records. Online orders placed through Pennsylvania's third-party vendor requires an estimated 2-week processing time. Mail orders placed to the Division of Vital Records in New Castle requires an approximate 2-week processing time. However, processing times may vary for requests placed at other locations of the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records. Processing time may be delayed if provided information in a request is incomplete. Additional processing time may be required for applications involving:
- Genealogical requests (requests for birth records prior to 1906)
- Court orders
- Power of attorneys
How to Expunge Your Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
Expunging a record involves permanently removing it and making it inaccessible by anyone. Usually, this legal act is applied to criminal records following overturned convictions or pardons. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not allow the expungement of birth records.
How to Seal Your Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, once the certificate of adoption reporting form has been accepted by the Department of Health, the Department seals the adopted child's original birth record and creates a replacement birth record based upon the information filed on the form. Note that the certificate of adoption form reporting form is completed after an adoption decree has been issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in Pennsylvania. The court reports the form to the Pennsylvania DVR and the Office uses the information in the form to locate a child's original birth record.
The process of sealing the birth record is automatic and is carried out by the Pennsylvania DVR. Adoption records including original birth certificates have been sealed in Pennsylvania since 1984.
How to Unseal Your Birth Records in Pennsylvania?
Until 2017, a pre-adoption birth record in Pennsylvania could only be obtained upon obtaining an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. However, a recent change in Pennsylvania adoption law (Act 127 of 2016) now allows adoptees to access original birth records if specific conditions are met.
To qualify to obtain a pre-adoption birth record, an adoptee:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Must have finished high school, possess a GED, or withdrawn legally from school
Under Pennsylvania law, the Division of Vital Records is authorized to issue only non-certified copies of the original birth record. A non-certified copy is a summary of the original records and includes the names and ages of the birth parents, date and county of the birth, and the name given to the child at birth. Pennsylvania also allows a birth parent to redact identifying information on the non-certified copy by filing a Name Redaction Request (NRR).
A redaction request may be filed or withdrawn at any time and does not extend beyond the death of a filing parent. A birth parent name redacted on the noncertified copy will be displayed as "NAME REDACTED". If the name of a birth parent was not recorded at the time of birth, the noncertified copy will be displayed as "NOT RECORDED." The Pennsylvania DVR is authorized to release only the non-certified copy of the original birth record even if an adoptee has been adopted multiple times.
In Pennsylvania, other than the adoptee, only lineal descendants such as the children, grandchildren of an adoptee can obtain a non-certified copy of a birth record. No other persons, including adopted parents or birth parents, or siblings are considered eligible.
To obtain an original birth record in Pennsylvania:
- Complete the Adoptee's Application for Noncertified Copy of Original Birth Record.
- Include a check or money order for the fee of $20 made payable to "Vital Records."
- Include a valid government-issued photo ID verifying the requester's name and current mailing address
- Mail completed application form, check or money order, and legible photocopy of valid identification to:
Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
Attn: Adoptee Applications
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103-1528
Completed applications received in the Pennsylvania DVR will be processed within 45 days from the date of receipt. If the Division cannot locate a requested record, the DVR will issue a statement of no record found. Fees are non-refundable.