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The 5 Easiest States for Accessing Vital Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Your access to state-level vital records can vary greatly from state to state. We looked at restrictions, wait times and online availability in every state, and found the five easiest places for genealogists to find answers about their ancestors’ vital events.


Vital Records for Genealogy Research
Vital records most often refer to birth, marriage, death and divorce records held at the state level. Here, learn the different types of information you can find in each.

Consider yourself lucky if you have family in:


The Golden State has a relatively early start to statewide vital records, in 1905, and places no restrictions on informational copies. It also enjoys extensive indexes on multiple websites.


The combo of zero restrictions for non-certified copies and at least some records back to 1880 put Iowa atop the list, along with online indexes and some images.

US Statewide Vital Records Reference Chart Free Download
Ready to find your ancestors’ official birth, marriage and death certificates? The Statewide Vital Records chart has all the details you need to know for each state.

New Jersey

Statewide registration here started way back in 1848. Non-immediate family can access edited versions of recent records for genealogical use. Online indexes are a mixed bag, but enough to make our top five.


Already blessed with extensive town records, Vermont has no restrictions on informational copies of post-1896 statewide records. They’re also widely indexed and imaged online.


No ID needed to request these records, which begin with births and deaths in 1907. They’re extensively indexed online.

Related Reads

Untangling Your Ancestor's State-Level Vital Records
Wildly varying access rules and availability make a tangled maze of your ancestors’ state-level vital records. Let us guide you through.
Finding Unexpected Genealogy Details in Vital Records
If carefully reviewed, birth, marriage and death records can contain a wealth of information. Here are some unexpected details in vital records.
Genealogy Q&A: How to Beat Vital Record Restrictions at State Archives
A private investigator helps you get around vital record restrictions.

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