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Where can I search for free public records?
In Arkansas, all birth certificates become publicly available 100 years after the date of birth. For marriage, divorce, and death certificates, the certificates are made public after 50 years. It can be arduous to find free public records, but many Arkansas vital records are freely and readily accessible to the public. You can search through Arkansas’s birth, death, or marriage certificate archives to find the information you need, but be aware that it will likely be a time-consuming process.
Are Arkansas Vital Records Open to the Public?
In Arkansas, most state records are unrestricted to the public, though whether or not you can access them depends on the record type and year the event occurred.
You can also utilize various third-party websites that facilitate vital record research. These websites are often not limited by your geographic location, allowing you to search records from other states or countries. However, though these websites can serve as good points of reference, the information in their databases may differ from official government records. To locate a record on a third-party website, you must provide the following information:
- The location of the record you’re looking for, including the city, county, or state where it was recorded.
- The name of the person on record, if it is not a minor.
Arkansas residents have the legal right to inspect or obtain copies of public vital records under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
How to Verify if Your Vital Record is Official
Each state has distinct vital records; sometimes, the certificates may vary by county or municipality. The appearance of your birth, death, or marriage certificate can vary based on the issuing municipality or agency. One way to recognize whether or not your certificate is an informational copy is to look for stamps or large prints across the document stating “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity.”
What Are the Differences Between Authorized Copies Versus Informational Copies?
Certified copies constitute legal documents that can be used for official identification, while parties cannot use informational copies to establish identity. As a result, certified copies of vital records are only issued to individuals with a “direct and tangible interest” in the document.
A certified copy of a vital record is a form of legal documentation that can be used for official identification. In contrast, an informational copy is purely for personal reference and cannot be used as official identification. Therefore, only individuals with a “direct and tangible interest” in the document can be issued certified copies of vital records.
To receive an authorized birth, death, or marriage certificate, you must submit proof of identity to attest that you are legally entitled to the authorized copy. If an accepted form of identification is not provided, your request will be rejected and returned to you, causing further delays in your application procedure.
Informational copies in Arkansas are sometimes referred to as “informational,” “genealogical,” or “short form.” These are primarily used for research purposes and cannot be used for legal identification or proof of identity.
If you request an informational copy, you do not need to provide a Sworn Statement. No documentation is required to obtain informational copies of a public vital record. In compliance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), citizens have the legal right to inspect or obtain copies of public records.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.