Search Public Records
Where can I search for free public records?
You can freely search public records for Florida vital records through the Florida Department of Health. Numerous websites also provide access to historic Florida vital records. However, many websites may charge a fee for providing this information. It is important to note that these sites may not be official government websites, and significant fees could be associated with accessing their databases.
Are Florida Vital Records Open to the Public?
Most state records are public in Florida. The access, however, will depend on the types of records you’re looking for and the year when the birth, death, or marriage occurred.
Some third-party websites make it easy to research specific types of vital records. Generally speaking, these sites are not limited based on geographical availability and can be a reference point when researching records. However, the data on these third-party sites may differ from official government reports. To find a record on a third-party website, the person requesting must provide the following:
- 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.
Floridians have the right under the Florida Statute Chapter 119 (Public Record Law) to inspect or obtain copies of public vital records.
How to Verify if Your Vital Record Is Official
Each state, county, and municipality create unique vital record formats. Depending on which entity issued your birth, death, or marriage certificate, you can examine their appearance to ensure you have an authentic certified copy.
What Are the Differences Between Authorized Copies Versus Informational Copies?
The difference between an authorized (certified) vital record and an informational copy is that an authorized record is the original, whereas an informational copy of a vital record is not. An authorized (certified) copy can be used for most legal purposes with few exceptions.
Authorized (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 Notarized Sworn Statement may be required to obtain an authorized copy of a vital record to acknowledge your legal right to request a certified copy of a birth, death, or marriage certificate. The notarized Sworn Statement attests to eligibility to request the authorized copy (declaring under penalty of perjury that you are entitled by law to receive an authorized copy). Without the notarized Sworn Statement, the request will be rejected as incomplete and returned to you without processing, leading to further delays.
An informational copy is not official and can be used for personal purposes but not for legal or official purposes such as proving age or citizenship.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.