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Where can I search for free public records?
Hawaii’s vital records, including birth, marriage, death, and divorce records, are made public after 75 years. Although finding free public records can be difficult, many vital records in Hawaii are freely and readily available to the public. You can browse Hawaii’s vital record archives to find the necessary information, but thoroughly reviewing these records may require a significant time investment.
Are Hawaii Vital Records Open to the Public?
In Hawaii, the majority of state records are publicly accessible. However, access depends on the record type and the year the birth, death, or marriage occurred.
Various third-party websites can assist you in researching specific types of vital records. Geographical constraints are not limited on these platforms and can serve as excellent reference points for record research. However, the information on these sites may not always align with official government records. To find a record on a third-party website, the requester 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 they are not a minor.
Hawaii residents have the right under the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) to inspect or obtain copies of public vital records.
How to Verify if Your Vital Record is Official
Every state, county, and municipality maintains unique vital records. Depending on the issuing authority of your birth, death, or marriage certificate, you can verify the appearance of your certificate to confirm you possess the official certified copy. Vital records labeled “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity” or words to that effect, distinguished by a stamp or large print, are informational copies, not official documents.
What Are the Differences between Authorized Copies Versus Informational Copies?
Authorized Copies of vital records are official documents issued by the relevant authority, such as the Department of Health or Office of Vital Records. These certified copies can be used for legal purposes such as establishing identity, applying for passports, registering for school, or settling estates. They typically bear a raised or colored impressed seal to denote their authenticity. Only specific individuals, such as the person named on the record, immediate family members, or their legal representatives, are eligible to request authorized copies.
Authorized vital records are recognized as legal documents exclusively issued to individuals with a direct and tangible interest in the record. Unlike informational copies that cannot validate identity, these copies serve as official identification.
In contrast, informational copies are not considered legal documents and cannot be used to establish identity or for other official purposes. They are typically marked with a phrase similar to “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity.” These copies are primarily used for personal records or genealogy research. They are available to anyone who wishes to obtain them and does not have the same access restrictions as authorized copies.
For an informational copy, a Sworn Statement isn’t necessary. You can acquire public vital records without any additional paperwork. Thanks to the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), it’s your legal right to inspect or get copies of public records.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.