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Are Pennsylvania Vital Records Open to the Public?

Following the establishment of the Right to Know law, most Pennsylvania vital records are open to the public after a specific period has elapsed. While selected records can be accessed without restriction, state-operated agencies reserve the right to exempt some records from access to non-eligible persons as indicated in the state statutes. Interested parties may access restricted records by obtaining the required legal authority from a Pennsylvania-licensed judge.


What Information Do I Need To Search for Pennsylvania Vital Records Online?

The state of Pennsylvania provides a variety of online options for accessing publicly available vital records. This includes state-operated case information repositories or their locally-managed alternatives. While these options can be used remotely or accessed on any of the public-access terminals in the state’s courthouses, they cannot be used to access restricted, sealed or closed vital records. To search the available vital records online, requestors are required to provide information to facilitate the search. This information includes:

  • The full name of the subject of the record
  • The place and date of the event
  • The case file number of any court records (if applicable)
  • The name of the subject's parents or legal guardians.
  • The name of the presiding judge

Similarly, publicly available records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not being limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. To find a record using the search engines on third party sites, the requesting party will be required to provide:

  • The location of the record in question including city, county, or state where the case was filed.
  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile


What Do I Need to Obtain Pennsylvania Vital Records?

The requirements for obtaining Pennsylvania vital records are determined by the legal authority of the requestor as well as the type of record, and the purpose for which the record is being requested. Typically, persons requesting informational copies of a vital record require no additional documentation or permission to access a public record. However, requestors requiring certified records or requesting access to restricted records are required to present documents proving their eligibility to access the record. This may include a government-issued photo ID, a court order issued by a Pennsylvania-licensed judge as well as documents proving the relationship between the subject of the record and the requesting party.


What’s The Difference Between A Certified Record And Informational Copy?

Informational copies are typically used for unofficial, genealogical or research purposes and can be provided to interested members of the public upon request (without documentation). On the other hand, certified copies are notarized and often bear a raised seal, making them valid documents with the legal authority to establish the identity of the bearer or subject. Certified copies are strictly issued to persons to fulfill specific eligibility requirements, and have sufficiently established a tangible interest in the record.

Are Pennsylvania Marriage Records Public Information?

According to the provisions of Pennsylvania state law, records of marriages licensed within the state’s jurisdiction are public record. However, certified copies of Pennsylvania marriage records are not available to the public except to the persons named on the record and those authorized by court order.


How Do I Find Marriage Records In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania marriage records are managed and disseminated by the Marriage Records Division of the courts in various jurisdictions. Requests for these records can be made in person or via mail to the courthouse clerk in the county where the license was issued. Interested persons may request PA marriage records by requesting a marriage certificate order form from the appropriate Orphans’ Court Clerk office. Typically, requestors are required to provide the information required to facilitate the record search. This includes:

  • The full names of both spouses (prior to any name changes)
  • The approximate date of the event
  • The marriage license number, and the approximate date it was issued
  • The location of the marriage

In addition to providing the above-mentioned information, requesters will be required to provide a government-issued ID to prove their eligibility to access the record, as well as cover all copy and certification costs (if applicable).

Are Pennsylvania Divorce Records Public Information?

Unless otherwise ruled by court order, divorce records are public information in Pennsylvania. However, certified or exemplified copies are strictly issued to either of the divorce parties involved or persons who have the required legal authority to access the record.


How Do I Find Divorce Records In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania divorce records can be obtained from the clerk's office in the county courthouse where the document was issued. To obtain a divorce record, requestors are required to contact the Orphans Court Clerk of the appropriate judicial district and obtain a divorce record request application. On the form, the requestor will be required to provide information relevant to the record search. This includes the full name of the parties involved as well as the place of the divorce, the approximate date the divorce was granted, and the court file number of the record (if known).

Applications are usually accompanied by identification documents and any applicable fees to cover copy and certification costs. Where the requesting party is not named on the record, then the request form must also be enclosed with a court order authorizing access to the record of interest.

Are Pennsylvania Birth Records Public Information?

In the state of Pennsylvania, birth records are not public information and requestors must fulfill the state's eligibility requirements in order to access a record. Persons who are eligible to access these records include:

  • Registrants who are 18 years or older
  • The parents or legal guardian of the registrant (if named on the record)
  • The subjects spouse and descendants
  • The registrant’s siblings and other immediate family members
  • The court-approved power of attorney
  • A legal representative of persons named on the record
  • Family members capable of providing a death certificate of the registrant.
  • Persons who are authorized by a court to access the record


How Do I Find Pennsylvania Birth Records?

Pennsylvania birth records are usually generated and disseminated by the local clerk's office in the county where the event occured. However, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health maintains a central database of statewide birth information and processes requests for these records. To request a record from the State Department of Health, interested and eligible persons are required to download and complete the Birth Certificate Application. The completed form must be signed by the requestor and enclosed along with a legible photocopy of a government issued photo ID and a payment of $20 and delivered in person or via mail to:

Division of Vital Records
Birth Certificate Processing Unit
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Are Pennsylvania Death Records Open To The Public?

As per Pennsylvania public record laws, certified death records are not open to the public, but information copies may be accessed for genealogical functions. The persons eligible to access death records in Pennsylvania include:

  • The parents/legal guardian or the deceased
  • The former or current spouse of the deceased
  • An immediate family member (with proof of relationship and a direct, tangible interest)
  • Legal representatives of any of the mentioned eligible persons
  • Persons who can demonstrate a financial interest
  • Persons legally authorized by a Pennsylvania court or a government office.


How Do I Find Death Records In Pennsylvania?

Requests for Pennsylvania death records can be made to the state Vital Records Division of the state Department of Health. Requestors are required to download and complete a Death Certificate Application which should detail the personal information of the deceased as well as the place and date of the death. The completed form must be signed and accompanied by the documents and fees stated on the form which should all be submitted in person or via mail to:

Division of Vital Records
Death Certificate Processing Unit
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

How Do I Find Sealed Vital Records In Pennsylvania?

While sealed vital records in Pennsylvania are restricted from public access, these restrictions may be waived where the requester has the required legal authority to access the record. To access a sealed record, interested persons who can sufficiently demonstrate a direct and tangible interest in the record may petition a Pennsylvania-licensed judge for a court order or subpoena authorizing record access. Haven received the subpoena, the requestor may proceed to query the office of the record custodian for the record of interest. In addition to presenting the court order, requestors must also provide the information required to facilitate the record search and a government-issued photo ID for identity confirmation.

Pennsylvania State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (215) 330-2168

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.


The historic Venango County Courthouse in Franklin has been home to government and judicial offices since 1868.