Changes to ordering requirements for birth, death certificates coming Jan. 1

Published Date

A new state vital records law that goes into effect on Jan. 1 will change the ordering requirements for birth and death certificates. The new law includes changes to increase the security of personal information, make historical vital records available, add a non-binary sex designation option, and increase the fee for certificates.

Beginning Jan. 1, only individuals with specific relationships to the person on the record being requested – birth or death certificate – can receive a certified copy. Qualifying relationships include spouse/domestic partner, child, sibling, parent, grandparent and legal representative, among others. Identity and proof of relationship documentation will be required.

The new law also creates a new short-form death certificate that does not contain cause or manner of death information or social security number in order to protect the decedent’s sensitive personal information. The law allows the release of noncertified short-form death certificates, as well as noncertified copies of birth certificates, to the public. Noncertified copies of records cannot be used for legal purposes.

Beginning Jan. 1, the fee for birth and death certificates and noncertified copies of these records increases from $20 to $25. The fee for certificates has not increased since 2009. The fees help support the vital records system across the state, including Clark County Public Health Vital Records, and help fund the death investigations account – a fund operated by Washington State Patrol to pay for the state toxicology lab, investigations and training.

Additional service fees help to maintain the level of service in the Vital Records office, allowing customers to expedite orders or receive a certificate the same day for in-person orders. Orders placed by telephone or online will include an $8.50 VitalChek fee. Orders placed in person at the Public Health Vital Records office will include a $3.50 kiosk usage fee.

An additional fee of $10 will be added to each order. This fee allows the Vital Records program to better cover its costs and rely less on a county general fund subsidy.

The new vital records law authorizes the Washington State Department of Health to issue one birth certificate at no cost to individuals living homeless and who were born in Washington. These requests must be submitted to the state Department of Health by a government agency or homeless services provider on behalf of the individual living homeless.

Beginning Jan. 1, vital records will also have a non-binary “X” sex designation option, and historical vital records will be available at State Archives after specified timeframes (100 years for births and fetal deaths; 25 years for deaths, marriages and divorces).

The Public Health Vital Record’s office is currently closed to in-person services. The Public Health website has information for ordering birth and death certificates online or by mail.

Additional information about the new vital records law is available on the state Department of Health website.



Marissa Armstrong
senior communications specialist
Public Health