Are Birth Records Public in North Carolina?
No. According to North Carolina law, certified copies of North Carolina birth certificates are not available to the public. The law specifies that certified copies of birth records be made available only to a registrant, persons closely related to a registrant, and other persons with a legitimate reason for requiring the vital statistics record.
However, members of the public are allowed to request and obtain uncertified copies of birth records (the public birth records) in North Carolina unless access restrictions exist. Unlike certified copies, uncertified copies do not bear the registrar's vital records raised seal and are issued on plain, white paper.
What are Birth Records in North Carolina?
Birth records are considered public records in North Carolina, but confidential information is usually removed when issuing uncertified copies to interested parties. A birth record is the official documentation of birth, and it includes every piece of information about it. The State of North Carolina and, indeed counties, did not maintain birth records on a statewide basis before October 1931. The only exceptions are Raleigh and Wilmington cities. Raleigh started recording birth events in 1890, while Wilmington began in 1904. The information embedded in a North Carolina birth record include:
- The full name of a child
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Sex of child
- Parents' names
- Mother's maiden name (first and last name)
- Mother's marital status at the time child's birth
- Place and date of birth registration, and the registration number
- Type of birth
In North Carolina, a birth record is legal proof of birth. It is used for a variety of reasons, such as passport applications, and social security programs.
Where to Find Public Birth Records in North Carolina
Individuals can request public birth records (uncertified copies of birth records) in North Carolina from the NC Office of Vital Records or a county register of deeds office where the birth occurred. Researchers may also find microfilmed birth records at the Genealogical Section of the North Carolina State Library or the North Carolina State Archives.
How to Find and Request Birth Records Online in North Carolina
The Vital Records Office of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has no provision for looking up or requesting birth records online. Persons who wish to obtain birth records online in North Carolina may use the services of some government-approved third-party vital record providers. The operations of these independent online vendors are not limited by requesters' geographic locations. Requesters must, however, provide accurate information on the persons named in their records of interest when ordering North Carolina birth records online. They must also pay the required fees by any means advised by their choice of third-party vital record vendors.
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.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.
How to Get Birth Records in North Carolina
The State Vital Records Office and the Register of Deeds Offices (RODs) maintain records of births that have occurred in North Carolina from 1913 to date. The State Vital Records Office documents all births registered in the entire state and makes the same available upon request by eligible persons. The ROD offices maintain records of births that occur in each county. To obtain certified copies of birth records in North Carolina, interested individuals must state their relationship to the person named on the document. Whether applying by mail or in person, they must also provide the following information:
- Full name on the record
- Record owner's date of birth
- Place of birth (the county or city in North Carolina)
- Parents' full names
In-Person Birth Record Request in North Carolina
Same day service is available for in-person birth record requests in North Carolina at additional costs to requesters. Interested parties can get copies of birth records at the County Register of Deeds Office (ROD), where the events occurred. Requesters can retrieve the contact information for each county ROD office for more inquiries on how to obtain birth records in person at the county level. Similarly, the State Vital Record office provides a walk-in service for birth records applications. A requester must complete the Application for a Copy of a North Carolina Birth Certificate Form and provide a photo ID for an in-person request.
In-Mail Birth Record Request in North Carolina
Interested individuals can order copies of North Carolina birth records via mail from the County Register of Deeds Office or the State Vital Records Office. A requester must provide supporting documentation such as a valid photo identification and enclose the same with a completed Application for a Copy of a North Carolina Birth Certificate Form. An applicant wanting fast delivery of a requested record using the mail option will have to pay more than required.
Where Can I Find Birth Records in North Carolina?
Interested persons can find birth records in North Carolina at both the state and county levels. The Vital Records Office of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services readily makes available birth records to eligible requesters at the state level. Requesters may also obtain birth records in North Carolina at a County Register of Deeds Office (ROD) if they know the exact county where a birth event occurred. To make an in-person request to the NCDHHS, interested persons may visit:
North Carolina Vital Records
225 N. McDowell Street
Raleigh, NC 27603-1382
However, note that walk-in services (in-person services) are available by appointment only.
Requesters' self-addressed stamped envelopes and copies of their photo IDs must be enclosed in mail applications to the County Register of Deeds Offices. They should write "Expedite" on the surface of the envelopes for faster delivery via mail. Persons interested in requesting birth records in North Carolina by mail may also send their applications via U.S.mail to:
North Carolina Vital Records
1903 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1900
How to Get Birth Records From a Hospital in North Carolina
In North Carolina, hospitals are not repositories for birth records. Hence, no individual can obtain a birth record from any hospital in the state. When a birth occurs in the hospital, such hospital will file an electronic certificate of live birth with the North Carolina Department of Human and Health Services (NCDHHS) within five days after the event. The Deputy Registrar of the NCDHHS processes the certificate and makes some required amendments. The office of the Deputy Registrar then files the certificate electronically with the State Vital Records Office. The State Vital Records Office is responsible for sharing a copy of such a certificate with the Register of Deeds (ROD) in the county where the birth occurred.
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in North Carolina?
The matter of who can or cannot obtain copies of birth certificates in North Carolina is dependent on the type of document being sought. The State Vital Records Office and local Register of Deeds Offices issue certified and uncertified copies of North Carolina birth records upon request. A certified copy of a birth certificate is a true version of the original document in the custody of the issuing authority. It is usually required for official and legal purposes. An uncertified copy of a North Carolina birth certificate is simply for informational purposes and cannot serve any legal or official use. Such certificates come in plain papers and are stamped "Uncertified" at the point of issuance.
Anyone can request uncertified copies of birth certificates in North Carolina unless legal restrictions apply. However, requesters must be able to provide complete and accurate information in their applications. In contrast, not everyone can apply for certified copies of North Carolina birth records. As specified by North Carolina law, NCGS 130A-93(c), certified copies of birth records in the state are only available to the following persons:
- Persons requesting copies of their birth certificates, spouses', sibling's, stepparents' stepchildren, direct ancestors' and direct descendants' birth certificates
- Authorized legal representatives of the persons named in the birth certificate
- Persons seeking information for legal determination of property and personal rights
Requesters' proof of identification are essential in their applications. Any request that does not include valid photo identification is usually denied. The following photo IDs are valid for requesting birth records in North Carolina:
- Current passport or Visa bearing requester's photo
- Current government-issued driver's license and non-driver photo ID card containing an address that must match requester's address on the application
- Current Department of Corrections photo ID card issued within the last year
- Current student ID card and a copy of school transcript
- Current United States military ID
- The current United States or state agency photo ID for a person requesting a certificate as part of the agency's affair
An eligible requester who does not have any of these forms of identifications may provide readable copies of two of the following in their applications:
- Bank statement containing current address
- Valid utility bill with requester's current address
- Paystub with present address
- Temporary driver's license
- Car registration bearing requester's current address
- State-issued concealed weapon permit having current address
- Any letter from a government agency to the requester within the last six months (It must show current address)
- Requester's income tax return with current address
How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in North Carolina?
Requesting a birth certificate in North Carolina comes at a cost. Below is a breakdown of the fee by type of request:
- Search fee - $24
- Expedite charge (for same-day service, and it is optional) - $15
- Search fee - $24
- An additional copy of the same certificate - $15
- Expedited processing fee (certificate shipped by regular mail) - $15
- Expedited processing with expedited shipping (within the continental U.S.) - $35
The certificate search fee includes one copy of the requested document. Both search and expedite fees are non-refundable whether the requested record is found or not. For requests forwarded to the State Vital Records Office, fees are payable to the North Carolina Vital Records via the following:
- Certified check
- Money order
- Business check
- Credit or debit card (for in-person request)
- Cash (for walk-in application)
How Long Does It Take to Get a Birth Certificate in North Carolina?
The North Carolina Vital Records Office processes standard requests of a birth certificate for any birth that occurred before 1971 in not more than eight weeks. Regular orders for birth certificates of events from 1971 to date may take up to five weeks. However, expedited applications for birth certificates in North Carolina are usually fulfilled within five to ten business days. Note that processing times are effective the day the State Vital Records receive requests.
How to Get a New Birth Certificate in North Carolina
Section 130A-118 of the North Carolina Legislature outlines circumstances where the State Registrar of Vital Statistics (the North Carolina Office of Vital Records) can create a new birth certificate. These include:
- After an adoption (NCGS 48-9-107)
- After legitimation (NCGS 49-13)
- After an individual has undergone a sex reassignment surgery
In all instances, the State Registrar or a County Register of Deeds that provides birth certificate amendment services must receive an application, supporting documentation, and a fee from a qualified party. For example, a registrant (if 18 years or above), a natural or adoptive parent, or a court. The application forms, fees, and acceptable documentation can be found on the Vital Records Office's Change a Record page or requested from a county register of deeds office. Note that the forms and documentation to submit vary, depending on why the State Registrar needs to establish a new North Carolina birth record for the applicant.
After the State Registrar creates a new birth record, the original birth certificate, all copies of it, and all related papers are placed under seal, which cannot be broken unless a court of competent jurisdiction orders the unsealing. Subsequently, any requester for a certified or uncertified copy of the North Carolina birth certificate will receive a copy of the newly issued record.
How to Expunge Your Birth Records in North Carolina
Record expungement is a legal process of removing certain information from a person's record and sealing or destroying such a document at the state repository. Although North Carolina allows the expungement of various state records, birth records are off the list.
How to Seal Your Birth Records in North Carolina
Sealing a birth record in North Carolina is related to adoption. Upon finalizing an adoption, the adoptee's original birth certificate and some other adoption papers are permanently restricted from public access. In such an instance, an amended birth certificate bearing the new name of the adoptee and listing the adoptive parents as the child's parents is issued. Sealing of birth records is primarily a part of the adoption process to protect birth mothers from the stigma of having children outside wedlock. It also shields adoptive parents and the adoptee from undue interference by birth parents.
How to Unseal Your Birth Records in North Carolina
At the end of an adoption process, the court seals the adoption records. There are appropriate steps to take to unseal such records while still protecting the interests of all parties involved. Unsealing birth records entails gaining access to adoption records. Any adoption record comprises both identifying and non-identifying information. Identifying information may include names, addresses, and other information capable of revealing identities. Non-identifying information is essentially descriptive information of the individuals involved in an adoption. A sealed original birth certificate in North Carolina can only be obtained by order of the court. The State Registrar will release a copy of an adoptee's original birth certificate upon receiving a certified copy of a court order authorizing its release. Such a document is certified as a true copy of a record that is no longer valid.
In North Carolina, the non-identifying information of a sealed birth record is accessible by an adult adoptee, adoptive parents, and a minor adoptee who is an expectant parent or already a parent. Interested persons may also use the confidential intermediary process to obtain North Carolina sealed birth records. In this process, a county Department of Social Services may act as a private agent to share identifying information for any of the following persons:
- An adult adoptee
- A birth parent
- An adult birth sibling or half-sibling of an adult adoptee
- An adult family member of a deceased adoptee
- An adult relative of a deceased birth parent
The identifying information in a North Carolina sealed birth record can only be unsealed by order of the court. A child-placing agency may consent to act as a confidential intermediary for parties involved in adoption without appointment by the court. Such an agency obtains identifying information and shares it with the written consent of all parties
Who Signs Birth and Death Certificates in North Carolina?
When a live birth occurs in a North Carolina hospital or another medical facility in the state, the individual in charge of the facility is responsible for obtaining personal data, preparing the birth certificate, securing the required signatures (including the signature of the physician or other individual in attendance), and filing it with the local registrar within 10 days (NCGS 130A-101).
However, when a live birth occurs outside a North Carolina hospital or another medical facility in the state, any one of the following persons must prepare, sign, and file the certificate of birth in this order of priority:
- The attending physician
- Any other individual in attendance (if the physician is absent)
- The child's father or mother (if the former is absent)
- The person managing the premises in which the birth occurred (if the father is absent or the mother is unable to do so)
On the other hand, NCGS 130A-115 assigns the duty to sign a death certificate in North Carolina to the physician overseeing a patient's care for the condition or illness that led to death. In the physician's absence or with the physician's approval, one of the following people can sign the certificate of death:
- An associate physician
- A nurse practitioner
- A physician assistant
- The chief medical officer of the institution where the death occurred, or
- The physician who performed an autopsy on the decedent