Effective August 28th, 2020, with the Governor’s recent signing of HB 2046, the fee collected for each death certificate will increase by $1.00 to $14.00 for the first certified copy. The fee for each additional certified copy, ordered at the same time, will also increase by $1.00 to $11.00.


Below are a list of answers to the most commonly asked questions the bureau receives. If you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to the Bureau of Vital Records via email at VitalRecordsInfo@health.mo.gov or call 573-751-6387.

How do I get a vital record amended?

Vital records in Missouri can be corrected or amended in specific instances in accordance with state statutes and regulations with the proper documentary evidence and/or legal documents. Some of these changes can be performed with a correction affidavit and applicable documentation, while some changes or amendments require a court order. Learn more about amending vital records.

How long does it take to obtain a copy of a vital record?

Usually, the fastest way to obtain a copy of a vital record is to request it locally. If necessary, requests may be mailed to the Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City. Mail-in requests to Jefferson City can be processed timely within 2-4 weeks. Processing times could be extended if the request is submitted with errors or requires additional research time. Checks are cashed/fees are deposited immediately upon receipt of the application. The application is then sent to the Bureau of Vital Records for processing. Therefore, a cashed check does not indicate an application has been processed. For more information, feel free to call the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387.

Who can obtain a copy of a vital record?

In the State of Missouri, vital records are not open to the general public. Copies of vital records are provided to specifically defined individuals or entities. This helps protect identities, prevent fraud, and preserve the integrity of vital records. State law only allows a certified copy of a vital record to be issued to a person with a direct and tangible interest in the record. The registrant, a member of his/her family, his/her guardian or one of their official representatives shall be considered to have a direct and tangible interest and may be issued a certified copy of a vital record such as a birth or death certificate.

  • Immediate family members are qualified to receive copies of birth certificates. Immediate family members shall include those family members and in-laws in the direct line of descent up to, but not including cousins. All family members are qualified to receive copies of death certificates.
  • Official representatives shall include an attorney, physician, funeral director, or other authorized agent acting in behalf of the registrant or his/her family. Funeral directors may act as an official representative to obtain copies of death records only.
  • Others may demonstrate a direct and tangible interest when information is needed for determination or protection of personal or property rights.  (An example of direct and tangible interest would be if a car title needed to be changed over to a person buying the car and the owner is deceased. The buyer would be qualified to receive a copy of the owner’s death certificate.)

An authorized agent acting in behalf of the registrant or his/her immediate family who is qualified to receive the vital record must demonstrate a link between themselves and the person listed in the vital record that is qualified to authorize release of the record. An example would be an attorney that has documentation indicating they represent the immediate family member.

For additional information regarding vital record access, visit: https://health.mo.gov/data/vitalrecords/obtain-vital-record.php

How much does a vital record cost?

Each copy of a birth, fetal death/stillbirth, marriage, and divorce record costs $15.00. The first copy of a death certificate costs $13.00. Each additional copy of a death certificate costs $10.00.

How does an individual facing homelessness with no form of ID obtain a copy of a vital record?

Usually, such an individual will have a shelter ID generated following the shelter’s written intake procedures to determine a participant’s eligibility for the shelter’s program. This can serve as one form of ID.

If possible, such an individual can also reach out to a qualifying family member or official representative authorized to obtain a vital record.

If no ID or proof of identity can be established, the record could also be obtained through VitalChek (additional cost), which can verify an identity electronically online through public record data powered by LexisNexis. This is a method that a shelter or program may be able to assist in completing. The record could then be mailed to the requestor.

If the individual has no ID or paperwork, no family, no official representative or individual that would qualify with tangible interest, and cannot order online, in those rare circumstances, the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records could be contacted to evaluate the situation in consultation with the Missouri State Registrar of Vital Records. Providing a copy of a vital record in these situations is granted on a case-by-case basis.

How does a victim of a natural disaster, abuse, or other similar situations with no form of ID obtain a copy of a vital record?

If possible, such an individual can reach out to a qualifying family member or official representative authorized to obtain a vital record.

If no such individual or representative is available and no ID or proof of identity can be established, the record could also be obtained through VitalChek (additional cost), which can verify an identity online through public record data powered by LexisNexis. The record could then be mailed to the requestor’s temporary, shelter, or current mailing address.

If the individual has no ID or paperwork, no family, no official representative or individual that would qualify with tangible interest, and cannot order online, in those rare circumstances, the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records could be contacted to evaluate the situation in consultation with the Missouri State Registrar of Vital Records. Providing a copy of a vital record in these situations is granted on a case-by-case basis.

Will I automatically receive a copy of my newborn’s birth certificate?

You will not automatically receive a copy of a newborn’s birth certificate. To receive a copy of a birth certificate, or any vital record, the record must be requested by an authorized individual or entity via an application or letter and the appropriate fee must be paid to the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records.

For more information, or if you have any additional questions, feel free to contact the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387.

What is the difference between a "short" form and a "long form" copy of a birth or death certificate? How do I request one or the other?

In Missouri, birth and death certificates each come in two different versions—short form and long form.

Short Form

A short form copy of a birth or death certificate, also referred to as an “abstract”, is an abbreviated version of the long form or original certificate. Most short forms are available at each local public health agency (LPHA)/county health department across the state, the state vital record office in Jefferson City, or by phone or online through VitalChek.

The short form is the traditional looking copy with colored borders and will satisfy most purposes or needs for a birth or death certificate such as obtaining a driver's license, school registration, personal identification, death benefits, claim insurance proceeds, notify social security, and other legal purposes.

Request a copy: To request a short form, simply complete a regular application either in-person, by mail, or phone/online via VitalChek. The default option for a vital record is the short form copy.

Long Form

A long form copy of a birth or death certificate, also referred to as an “original”, is a copy of the original birth or death certificate and is only available through the state vital record office in Jefferson City or by phone or online through VitalChek.

The long form contains additional general information about the birth or death such as a time of birth or death if available. This larger sized document is typically not required for most purposes or needs for a vital record. A long form may be preferred if previous changes to a vital record have been made or for genealogical purposes.

Request a copy: To request a long form, complete a regular application either in-person or by mail and mark across the top of the application “long-form certificate requested.” If requested by phone through VitalChek, you will need to inform the representative you are working with that you need a long form certificate. If you order online through VitalChek, please ensure you select “long form” from the list of available options or mark your request for genealogy purposes.

Note: in some instances, both a short form and a long form version of a vital record will not exist or be available for request. For more information, call the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387.

What is the difference between a spontaneous fetal death and an induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP/abortion)? How do I obtain a copy of a fetal death report?

Fetal Death

  • A fetal death is defined as a non-induced death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a fetus, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, the death is indicated by fact that after such expulsion or extraction the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles.
  • Each spontaneous fetal death of twenty (20) completed weeks gestation or more, calculated from the date of last normal menstrual period began to the date of delivery, or a weight of three hundred fifty (350) grams or more which occurs in Missouri shall be reported.
  • If a report of spontaneous fetal death is filed with the state, a copy of the report may be requested by filing an application with the Bureau of Vital Records. If desired, either parent, or if both parents are deceased, a sibling of the stillborn child, also have the right to file an application requesting a “certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth”, which is created from information in the report of spontaneous fetal death.
  • If a spontaneous fetal death occurs, neither a birth certificate nor a death certificate shall be filed or issued—only a report of spontaneous fetal death, and if desired, a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth certificate are available.
  • Request a copy: To request a copy of a report of spontaneous fetal death or a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth, complete an application either in-person or by mail.

Induced Termination of Pregnancy (ITOP)

  • An induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP), also known as an abortion, is defined as the intentional destruction of life of an embryo or fetus in his or her mother’s womb or the intentional termination of pregnancy of a mother with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth or to remove a dead or dying unborn child.
  • Information received from the Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy and the Complication Report for Post-Abortion Care are confidential, only used for statistical purposes, and to preserve maternal health and life by adding to the sum of medical knowledge through the compilation of relevant maternal health and life data and to monitor all abortions performed to assure that they are done only under and in accordance with the provisions of the law.
  • For more general information regarding these terms, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.

I just have a genealogy request. Do I still have to pay a fee and submit a notarized application?

Yes. Genealogy requests received by the Bureau of Vital Records are treated in the same manner

While vital record keeping began in 1910, some delayed certificates may be available before 1910. However, there is no guarantee of a record’s existence either before or after 1910.

The Secretary of State’s Missouri Digital Heritage website contains publicly available information on birth certificates before 1910 and on death certificates greater than fifty (50) years old.

If your request falls outside of this criteria or additional information/an actual copy of a vital record is needed, an application for a vital record and a search fee is required and should be submitted to the Bureau of Vital Records. Typically, long form copies of vital records are useful involving genealogy requests.

If you are requesting information for legitimate research purposes, policies and procedures for release of vital records information can be found at Data, Surveillance Systems & Statistical Reports. Scroll to the heading Data Release Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines.

What to do if I lost a copy of a vital record?  Damaged vital record?  Stolen vital record?

Lost Vital Record
If you are certain the copy of the vital record was lost, and not stolen, (thrown out accidentally or perhaps in a box in the attic) you can simply request another copy of the vital record by contacting the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387 or learn more at order a copy of a vital record.

Damaged Vital Record
If you are certain the copy of the vital record was damaged, and not stolen, (spilled liquid, torn, ripped, or worn) you can simply request another copy of the vital record by contacting the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387 or learn more at order a copy of a vital record.

Note: Be sure not to laminate a copy of vital record in an attempt to preserve the certificate. This prevents the authenticity of the certificate to be verified.

Stolen Vital Record
If you believe your birth certificate was stolen, you should contact the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387 to report the issue. From there, you can request another copy of the vital record by contacting the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387 or learn more at order a copy of a vital record. You may also consider following up with a credit monitor or other type of identity monitoring service.

Learn more about lost, damaged, or stolen vital records.

How can a first or original birth or death certificate (not a certified copy or other version) be obtained?

The original version of a birth or death certificate is maintained and stored permanently by the Bureau of Vital Records. The original version of the vital record is not given out to a member of the public or any other entity. The Bureau of Vital Records does issue certified copies of the original certificate which are considered by state law to be the same as the original.

Are there steps that can be taken to prevent my identity from being stolen?

Yes. One of the most important reasons vital records are kept confidential and only released to authorized entities is because, in the wrong hands, they can be used to help criminals steal your identity. This can have a negative impact on your availability to obtain credit, result in costly legal fees, and waste your time and effort to correct, among other issues.

Therefore, be sure to keep any copies of vital records in a secure location and ensure only authorized individuals or those absolutely necessary are shown or given a copy. Learn more about protecting your identity.

How do obtain authentication or apostille for a copy of a vital record?

Certified copies of vital records ordered through VitalChek can be transferred to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office for apostille/authentication and then sent directly to the recipient.

Once a certified copy of a vital record is ordered (long form certificate recommended) and order confirmation via email is received, contact the Bureau of Vital Records (573-751-6387, opt. 1) the following business morning between 9 AM - 11 AM central time to:

  • (a) verify order is in processing queue for that day, and (b) request that the resulting certificate be forwarded for authentication/apostille

If you plan to order or have already ordered a copy of a vital record through the Jefferson City office by mail, and wish to get the copy sent to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office for authentication/apostille, please contact the Bureau of Vital Records at 573-751-6387.

Certificates are delivered to the Secretary of State once per week on average. The Secretary of State will then contact customer for specifics and payment for their service. Finished documents will then be sent directly to customer.

For more information about authentication/apostilles, visit: https://s1.sos.mo.gov/Business/Notary/notary/certify

Will I automatically receive a social security card for my newborn?

If you indicate on the birth registration paperwork at the time of birth (usually provided by a hospital, clinic, midwife, etc.) that you wish to give permission to provide the Social Security Administration with the necessary information to issue a social security number, a social security card will be mailed to the address you provided on the birth registration paperwork.

Note: When naming your child, some suffixes such as the “4th” vs “IV”, extra character spaces, and other specific naming sequences may prevent the automatic issuance of a social security number. As a result, you may have to contact the Social Security Administration directly and complete a Form SS-5. Please ensure you ask the hospital, clinic, midwife, attendant, certifier, or call the Bureau of Vital Records for more information.