Search Public Records
Where can I search for free public records?
In Missouri, death certificates become public after 50 years. However, birth and marriage records are confidential and only accessible to authorized individuals. You can search through Missouri’s archives of birth, marriage, and divorce records to find the information you need, but be prepared to spend a significant amount of time reviewing records.
Are Missouri Vital Records Open to the Public?
In Missouri, the accessibility of vital records depends on the type of record you are looking for and the year in which the birth, death, or marriage occurred. Third-party websites can make it easier to research specific types of vital records since they are not limited to geographic location. They can also serve as a good reference point when researching records. However, it is important to note that the data on third-party sites may differ 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 that you have an official certified copy of your birth, death, or marriage certificate, it is crucial to check what the documents look like, as each state, county, and municipality has different vital records. Informational copies of vital records can be recognized by a stamp or large print 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?
Authorized (certified) copies of vital records are recognized as legal documents that can be used for official identification purposes. However, informational copies cannot be used to establish identity. Individuals must have a “direct and tangible interest” in the document to receive authorized copies of vital records.
If you need an authorized birth, death, or marriage certificate, you must verify your identity and authorization to request the document. Depending on the ordering method and your relationship with the record holder, this may require a notarization. It is important to note that without a notarized sworn statement, your request will be considered incomplete and returned to you without processing, leading to further delays.
Missouri does not offer any “keepsake,” “commemorative,” or “heirloom” certificates. Instead, the state only provides non-certified informational copies of original birth certificates for adoptees.
If you are an adoptee, your birth certificate copy will be non-certified and stamped with “For genealogical purposes only. Not to be used for establishing identity”. Under the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act (RSMo 193.125 and 193.128, RSMo), adoptees, adoptee’s attorneys, birth parents, and lineal descendants of deceased adoptees can request a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate.
Informational (non-certified) copies are not official legal documents and cannot be used for official purposes such as establishing identity, obtaining a passport, or proving eligibility for benefits. They are intended only for display or personal reference and are typically used for personal record-keeping or genealogical research. In compliance with the Missouri Sunshine Law, citizens have the right to inspect or obtain copies of public records.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.