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Where can I search for free public records?
Massachusetts Vital Records provide valuable information for various life events. Most vital records in Massachusetts are accessible to the public except for restricted records. Birth certificates are considered restricted if the child is born out of wedlock, while marriage certificates are restricted if the bride or groom’s parents were not married at the time of their birth. However, death certificates have no restrictions. While finding free public records in Massachusetts can be challenging, many vital records are available to the public. You can search through the archives of birth, marriage, and divorce records in Massachusetts, although it may require significant time and effort to review the records thoroughly.
Are Massachusetts Vital Records Open to the Public?
Most state records in Massachusetts are public; access to these records depends on the types and years of birth, death, or marriage events. When conducting research on specific vital records, it can be helpful to refer to third-party websites that provide a convenient way to access and research records, regardless of geographic location. However, it is important to understand that the information on these third-party sites may vary from official government records.
To find a record on a third-party website, the person requesting 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.
How to Verify if Your Vital Record is Official
To ensure you have the official certified copy, you can check what the documents look like depending on which municipality or agency issued your Birth, Death, or Marriage Certificate. Each state, county, and municipality has different vital records. If you want to confirm that your certificate is a certified copy, you can refer to the official, certified documents in the county where yours was issued. A stamp or large print can recognize informational copies of vital records across the face of the document that reads “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity” or something similar.
What Are the Differences between Authorized Copies Versus Informational Copies?
In Massachusetts, authorized copies of vital records are legal documents used for official identification, while informational copies are unofficial and cannot be used for official purposes. Only certified copies are issued by the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, and Massachusetts does not offer informational copies of vital record certificates.
Authorized (certified) copies of vital records are legal documents that can be used for official identification. They are only issued to individuals with a “direct and tangible interest” in the document. Informational copies, on the other hand, cannot be used to establish identity. Regardless of intended use, the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics only issues certified copies of records. If you are looking for vital record information for genealogical research but do not need a certified copy, you can find more information on how to order a birth, marriage, or death certificate on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.
Massachusetts only issues certified copies of vital record certificates, regardless of intended use. In compliance with the Massachusetts Public Records Law, citizens have the right to inspect or obtain copies of public records. Massachusetts does not offer any form of keepsake certificates or informational copies of birth or marriage certificates, referred to as “short-form,” “unofficial” (non-certified), “heirloom,” or “commemorative certificates.” Informational copies are not official legal documents intended only for display or personal reference. They cannot be used for official purposes such as establishing identity, obtaining a passport, or proving eligibility for benefits. Informational copies are typically used for personal record-keeping or genealogical research. Non-certified copies are only available in cases of adoption.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.