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Where can I search for free public records?
Oklahoma birth records become available to the public after 125 years, while death records become public after 50 years. Although finding free public records in Oklahoma can be complicated, many vital records, such as birth, marriage, and divorce, are readily accessible to the public. Searching through these public records can be time-consuming, so be prepared to spend a significant amount of time reviewing the records.
Are Oklahoma Vital Records Open to the Public?
While most Oklahoma state records are available to the public, the accessibility of these 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 be a good reference point when searching for vital records, making it easy to research specific types of records. These websites are not limited to your location, providing a broader scope of information. Be aware 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
It is crucial to check the authenticity of your Oklahoma vital record before attempting to use it to establish your identity. To ensure you have a certified copy of your birth, death, or marriage certificate, you can compare it with the official copy issued by the county where it was created. Informational copies of vital records usually have a stamp or a label 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 constitute legal documents that can be used for official identification. Certified copies of vital records are only issued to individuals with a “direct and tangible interest” in the document. In contrast, informational copies cannot be used to establish identity.
When requesting a birth or marriage certificate, it’s important to know the difference between an official legal document and an informational copy. Informational copies are commonly referred to as short-form, unofficial (non-certified), “heirloom,” or “commemorative” certificates. They are not considered legal documents that can be used as proof of birth or identity for legal purposes. Informational copies are also not valid for other purposes, such as getting a passport or proving eligibility for benefits. Instead, they are intended for personal record-keeping or genealogical research.
The OSDH still requires the record holder and authorized third-party applicants to provide an accepted form of identification when requesting an heirloom birth certificate. If you request an informational copy, you do not need to provide a sworn statement.
Find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates in the resources section.