Birth Records

State Departments of Health in the United States maintain records of life events in their jurisdiction. Maintaining birth records is a decades-old practice where states register the births of all children in their jurisdiction. In 1995, the United States adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of the primary tenets of the Convention is that every child must have a unique identity.

The information you can expect to see on birth record include:

  • Name of the child
  • Name of parents
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Race
  • Information of the attendant at birth

The record custodian for birth records in counties in the United States varies with the vital statistics system that a state uses. In some counties, the county clerk is the designated custodian, and in others, the record custodian is the local department of health. The state department of health also acts as the central repository for birth records, releasing these records to eligible individuals. 

The eligibility requirements also vary from state to state. Some states regard birth records as confidential until a statutory period of confidentiality has passed. If the state deems a birth record as confidential, only the individual named, members of their immediate family, and legal designees will have access to these records. You can use the CDC directory to access the protocol and requirements for obtaining copies of birth records in various states. You can also search for birth records on public databases maintained by government agencies or private service providers.