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Where can I search for free public records?
Finding free public records in North Carolina can be a complex task, but there are numerous vital records that are easily accessible to the public. You can explore the state’s archives if you’re searching for birth, marriage, or divorce records in North Carolina. However, it’s important to note that reviewing these records can require significant time and effort.
Are North Carolina Vital Records Open to the Public?
Some third-party websites offer convenient access to research specific types of vital records. These websites are not limited to a particular geographic location and can serve as a valuable reference point when conducting records research. However, the data on third-party sites may vary from official government records. Therefore, it is recommended to cross-reference the information obtained from these sites with official government sources to ensure accuracy and reliability.
When searching public vital records on a third-party website, the requester 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
You can check what the official certified copy of your birth, death, or marriage certificate looks like for each North Carolina county and municipality, as they may differ. To confirm that your certificate is a certified copy, you can compare it to the official, certified documents issued in the county where yours was issued. 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?
The authorized copy of a vital record is a legal document that can be used for official identification, while informational copies cannot be used for that purpose. Certified copies of vital records are only issued to individuals who have a “direct and tangible interest” in the document.
Informational copies of birth or marriage certificates, also known as short-form, unofficial (uncertified), heirloom, or commemorative certificates, do not require a sworn statement to request copies. These copies are not considered official legal documents and are intended only for display or personal reference purposes. They cannot be used for purposes such as establishing identity, obtaining a passport, or proving eligibility for benefits. Informational copies are commonly used for personal record-keeping or genealogical research.
If you request an uncertified copy of a certificate issued by North Carolina Vital Records, it will be on plain (white) paper and clearly stamped “Uncertified.” It will not have a raised Vital Records seal. They are available to anyone who requests them unless legal restrictions apply. Applicants must provide the required information on the application and pay the appropriate search fees.
In accordance with the North Carolina Public Records 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.