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Frequently Asked Questions

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Adoption

How do I receive a New Jersey birth record for a child adopted from a foreign country?

Please see the details regarding placing an adoption on file .

How can I obtain a copy of my original birth certificate if I have been adopted?

When the adoption is placed on file with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, the original birth certificate and all documents related to the adoption are placed under seal. This seal can only be broken by court order.

Original Birth Certificate Availability to Adoptees

On May 27, 2014, Governor Christie amended the vital records law to allow an adult adoptee, whose Original Birth Certificate was placed in a "sealed file," to obtain a non-certified copy of that Original Birth Certificate. P.L. 2014, c. 9. 

Does an adoptee receive a new birth certificate after his/her adoption is finalized?

Yes.  At the time an adoption is finalized, an amended birth certificate, known as the Official Birth Certificate, is issued.  The Official Birth Certificate lists the adoptive parents as the mother and father and may have changed the actual place of birth to the adoptive parents' residence. The Official Birth Certificate replaces the Original Birth Certificate, and the Official Birth Certificate is the legal record of birth. The Original Birth Certificate and evidence of adoption are in a "sealed file." 

When can adoptees get their Original Birth Certificate?

The new law is effective January 2017.

Who else may request a copy of the Original Birth Certificate?

Access to this document is limited to those eligible to apply (applicant) for the Original Birth Certificate:

  • Adult adoptee;
  • A direct descendent, sibling or spouse of the adopted person;
  • An adoptive parent, legal guardian, or other legal representative of the adopted person; or
  • An agency of the State or federal government for official purposes. 

It is NOT open for public access.

How can adoptees request their Original Birth Certificate? 

A form to request an Original Birth Certificate is being developed based on the law signed on May 27th and will be posted on the Department of Health website when available.

Do adoptees need to appear in person to receive their Original Birth Certificate?  

No. Watch the Department of Health website for updates on electronic and mail-in applications for Original Birth Certificates and required forms of identification.

What Will the Applicant for the Original Birth Certificate Receive?

The applicant will receive a copy of the Original Birth Certificate, which will be clearly marked that it is not a certified copy and it may not be used for legal purposes. The Original Birth Certificate is for informational purposes only and cannot be used for legal proof of identity, citizenship, or as a substitute for an Official Birth Certificate. The information on the Original Birth Certificate is shown as it was provided by the birth parent(s) at the time of birth. 
 
How can birth parents state their preference for contact?

The new law provides birth parents the opportunity to place on file a contact preference form and/or health history questionnaire in the sealed file.  Birth parents may select options including direct interaction, contact through an intermediary, or sharing of only medical information. 

For adoptions finalized before August 1, 2015, birth parents may also maintain continued privacy by directing the State Registrar to redact personal identifying information from the original birth certificate prior to release upon request from an authorized applicant.  Birth parents must make this selection on or before December 31, 2016.

Birth parents will have the opportunity to revise their contact preference at any time. 

When will the contact preference form be available?

The Department is currently developing the contact preference form and medical history questionnaire based on the law signed on May 27th and will post it to the Department’s website.  We anticipate the contact preference form will be available by July 1st.

Can adoptees receive other vital records related to their Original Birth Certificate, such as the birth parent(s) birth, marriage or death certificates?

No. The adoption severed legal familial bonds to the birth parents so the adoptee does not meet the statutory requirements at N.J.S.A. 26:8-62 for obtaining vital records of birth parent(s).

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Birth Records

How do I make a correction to a birth record?

Please see the details regarding filing a correction.

What is the process to add or delete a father’s name from a birth certificate?

Since there are many unique circumstances to amending records it is suggested you contact the Record Modification Unit toll-free at 1-866-649-8726 extension 581 after having reviewed the detailed information on the Corrections page.

Where do I request a birth certificate if I was born abroad, with US citizenship at birth?

Contact the State Department in Washington DC at (202) 955-0307.

How do I know if the copy of my birth certificate is acceptable for the Division of Motor Vehicles, Passport or for proof of age or citizenship?

Your record must be issued by the local office of vital records where the birth occurred or the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry and must contain a raised seal. Some entities require the document to have been issued within the last two years. Complimentary copies issued by a hospital are not valid. Please see related information if your birth certificate was issued by the Jersey City – Hudson County Vital Records Office.

Is a raised seal required to make a certified copy of a birth certificate official?

Yes, within the State of New Jersey certified copies are required to contain the raised seal of the issuing authority, either the local office of vital records or the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.

Can I obtain the time of birth?

Yes. In order to obtain this information you must purchase a certified copy of your record. The time will be included on the birth certificate only if the doctor recorded it. You should indicate on your request that you wish the certified copy to show the time of birth.

Can I request the birth record of a non-family member?

Yes, but you will receive a certification rather than a certified copy. A certification is a non-certified document, which contains limited information and states it is for informational purposes only, not for identification or legal purposes.

How long after a birth occurs is it filed with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry?

Under our current system, births are filed within three weeks of the completion of the certificate by the hospital.

What is required to file a delayed birth certificate?

In order to request a delayed report of birth, you must first file an application requesting the birth certificate to ensure the record is not on file. If no record is found, you will receive a No Record statement, which must be returned with a letter of request to place a delayed report of birth on file. You will receive a questionnaire to complete so that a more detailed search can be completed. You will also need to provide documentary proof that the birth took place. Documentary proof will be reviewed and a determination made. Please contact the Record Modification unit toll-free at 1-866-649-8726 extension 581 for further information.

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Civil Union Records

Where do I apply for my civil union license?

The application must be filed in the New Jersey municipality in which either applicant resides and the license is valid throughout the State. If neither applicant is a New Jersey resident, the application must be filed in the municipality where the ceremony will occur and the license is valid ONLY in the issuing municipality.

If I am in a domestic partnership and want to enter into a civil union with the same partner, do we need to terminate the domestic partnership before applying for a civil union license?

No. Domestic partners who wish to enter into a civil union with the same partner do not need to terminate their domestic partnership.  Once they have entered into the civil union, their domestic partnership automatically terminates, if it was originally registered in New Jersey.  If it was registered outside New Jersey, the laws of that state would determine the validity of the domestic partnership following the civil union.

If I was previously registered in a domestic partnership and neglected to legally terminate it when we ended our relationship, must I terminate that domestic partnership before I enter into a civil union with someone else?

Yes.  If the domestic partnership with a different partner was not legally terminated, or was not terminated by the death of the previous partner, you must terminate the domestic partnership before entering into a civil union with someone else.

Is my civil union registered in another state recognized by the State of New Jersey?

If your civil union meets the requirements of the state in which you registered, then it is recognized by the State of New Jersey.

Am I required to enter into a civil union in New Jersey if I am already in a civil union or same-sex marriage in another state or country?

No.  You are not required to enter into a civil union in New Jersey. If your civil union or same-sex marriage meets the requirements of the state or country in which you registered, then it is recognized by the State of New Jersey as a civil union. However, if you wish, you may also elect to enter into a civil union in New Jersey.  In that case, you would file for a Reaffirmation of Civil Union License in New Jersey.

After filing the civil union application, is there a waiting period before the civil union license can be issued?

Yes.  There is a 72-hour waiting period before the license can be issued. The waiting period begins once the application has been filed by one or both applicants.  A Superior Court judge can waive all or part of the 72-hour waiting period.

After filing a Reaffirmation of Civil Union application, is there a waiting period before the Reaffirmation of Civil Union License can be issued?

No.  For a Reaffirmation of Civil Union License, there is no waiting period, The license can be issued immediately after the complete application has been filed.

Can Internet ministers perform my civil union ceremony?

Yes.  It is recommended you check the Internet website for the particular Internet ministry to verify that their ministers are authorized to perform civil union ceremonies.

Are public officials who are authorized to perform marriages/civil unions required to perform my civil union ceremony?

Public officials who are authorized to perform marriages are authorized to perform civil unions.  Public officials may choose whether or not to exercise this authority.  However, if a public official agrees to perform marriages, he or she must agree to perform civil unions.  If an official elects not to perform civil unions, he or she cannot perform marriages either. Public officials do have the right to exercise their authority only for residents of their municipality.

Are members of the clergy required to perform my civil union ceremony?

No.  Members of the clergy are not covered by the Law Against Discrimination and have the right to decline to perform civil unions.

Is the Local Registrar, or Deputy or Alternate Deputy Registrar, required to accept my application for a civil union License?

Yes.  The Registrar is required by law to accept for filing the vital records established by the laws of New Jersey.

Am I eligible to assume my partner’s name or hyphenate our last names following our civil union?

Yes.  However, please note that the federal government does not recognize civil unions.  You may choose to consult an attorney to legally establish a name change.

Do applicants for a civil union license have the right to create their own vows or make changes to existing vows that may be in place with public officials?

Yes.  You can create or edit vows.  In your vows, you may refer to each other using any terms you prefer, including wife, spouse, lover, or life mate, and you may refer to the ceremony as a marriage.  However, when the ceremony is completed, you are legally entered into a civil union and considered a civil union couple.

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Corrections

What is the procedure to correct information on a birth record?

Since there are many unique circumstances to amending records it is suggested you contact the Record Modification Unit toll-free at 1-866-649-8726 extension 581 after having reviewed the detailed information on the Corrections page.

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Death Records

If a resident of New Jersey dies in another state or country, is the death certificate on file in New Jersey?

No, you must contact the state or country in which the death occurred.

How do I find a cemetery plot or burial place?

Request a long form copy of the death certificate, which will have the burial location. Then you can contact that entity for more information.

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Domestic Partnership Records

I entered into a domestic partnership before New Jersey’s Civil Union Act took effect.  Is my domestic partnership still valid if we elect not to enter into a civil union?

Yes.  Your domestic partnership is still valid as it was entered into under the law in place at the time.  However, you continue to have only the rights afforded to domestic partners and not the full rights of married couples as are given to civil union couples.

Is my domestic partner able to assume my last name after we register our partnership?

No. There is no basis to recognize the assumption of the partner’s last name. A legal name change must be filed with the courts and an original copy of the final judgment presented to the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.

Is it true that as of February 19, 2007, when New Jersey’s Civil Union Act took effect, only same-sex or opposite-sex couples 62 years of age or older can register domestic partnerships?

Yes.  As of February 19, 2007, domestic partnerships can only be established by couples 62 years of age or older, regardless of whether they are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple.

If I am in a domestic partnership and want to enter into a civil union with the same partner, do we need to terminate the domestic partnership before applying for our civil union license?

No.  Domestic partners who wish to enter into a civil union with the same person do not need to terminate their domestic partnership.  Once they have entered into the civil union, their domestic partnership will automatically terminate if it was registered in New Jersey.  If it was registered outside New Jersey, the laws of that state would determine the validity of the domestic partnership following the civil union.

If I was previously registered in a domestic partnership and neglected to legally terminate it when we ended our relationship, must I terminate that domestic partnership before entering into a civil union with someone else?

Yes.  If the domestic partnership with a different partner was not legally terminated, or was not terminated by the death of the previous partner, you must terminate the domestic partnership before entering into a civil union with someone else.

Does my employer have to offer my domestic partner health benefits?

Information regarding benefits can be found at the Division of Pensions and Benefits.

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General Information

Can a person eligible to receive a certified copy of a vital record designate someone to collect the certified copies for them?

An individual who has filed a complete application for a copy of a vital record can authorize another person to pick up the record on his or her behalf. To do so, the applicant should sign a notarized letter, stating the name of the person listed on the vital record and the name of the individual who is picking up the record. The individual picking up the record must present this letter along with Acceptable Forms of Identification.

Does an ex-spouse have access to the previous spouse's birth or death certificate?

An ex-spouse can only obtain birth or death records if the records are being obtained on behalf of a minor child that was the product of the marriage. Documentary proof of the minor child and the need for the certificate must be provided.

Do stepparents have the same access to records as parents?

Stepparents can only obtain a certified copy of the birth certificate of a stepchild with the authorization of the biological parent, unless the stepparent has adopted the child or has been granted custody of the child.

Does an attorney have access to vital records?

An attorney can only obtain records on behalf of a client. The attorney must show proof of being the legal representative of the client and may only obtain the same type of copy of a vital record that the client is eligible to receive. An attorney is not granted certified copies of vital records solely on the basis of being an attorney; he or she must meet the requirements of Executive Order 18.

Do foreign governments accept a birth or death record issued by the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry?

Yes. However, if the foreign country is a member of the Hague Treaty, the record must also contain an Apostille Seal. You can contact the consulate of that country to determine if it is a member of the Hague Treaty or obtain other specific requirements.

How do I obtain a record with an Apostille Seal?

You must purchase a copy of your vital record from the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry and indicate on your application that it is needed for Apostille Seal. You will receive a certified copy, which contains the original signature of the State Registrar or Assistant State Registrar. You must forward this certificate to the Department of Treasury requesting an Apostille Seal.

How do I check the status of a request?

For requests submitted to the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, call 1-866-649-8726 extension 582. For requests submitted to a local office of vital records, contact that office directly. For online requests, call 609-858-9896.

What should I do if I receive a No Match certificate as a result of a request I submitted?

A No Match statement means the information you provided does not exactly match a record on file. Verify the information you provided. Submit a new application for the record with the corrected information. Your new application must include the required identification and fees.

What should I do if I receive a No Record certificate as a result of a request I submitted?

A No Record statement means that there is no record on file that corresponds to the information you provided. Verify the information you provided. If the information you originally gave is correct, you can request to file a delayed report be placed on file. More information on delayed reports of birth can be found under the Birth Records portion of the FAQ’s, more information on delayed reports of marriage can be found under the Marriage Records portion of the FAQ’s.

Can vital records be faxed?

No. Vital records require the raised seal of the local office of vital records or the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry seal to be considered valid. It is the administrative policy of the State Registrar that records are not faxed for any reason.

 

 

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Local Registrar Information

How do I order a vital record from a New Jersey local vital records office?

Contact the Local Registrar's office in the municipality where the event occurred.

What are the fees for local copies?

The fees for copies of vital records vary by municipality. Please contact the municipality where the event took place for more detailed information.

Are local copies of vital records acceptable for all my needs?

Local copies are valid for all purposes except for the following two instances:

  • If the copies are being presented to a foreign country that is part of the Hague Treaty, the copies need an Apostille Seal from the New Jersey Secretary of State. The Apostille Seal can only be applied to certified copies of vital records issued from the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.
  • If your birth certificate was issued by the Jersey City – Hudson County Vital Records Office, it is not valid for passport application. You must obtain your certified copy from the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.

 

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Marriage Records

If I was married in another state, do I need to enter in a marriage in New Jersey in order to have my marriage recognized in New Jersey?

No. Just as with opposite-sex couples, so long as your out-of-state marriage is consistent with the laws and public policy of New Jersey, your marriage is valid and recognized in this State and you will not need to enter into a New Jersey marriage.

Is my marriage on file in New Jersey if I was married in another state or country?

No. You must contact the state or country in which you were married.

Who can perform marriages in New Jersey?

Each judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, each judge of the federal district court, United States magistrate, judge of a municipal court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of a tax court, retired judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, or judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court, the former County Court, the former County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, or the former County District Court who has resigned in good standing, surrogate of any county, county clerk and any mayor of former mayor not currently serving on the municipal governing body or the deputy mayor when authorized by the mayor, or chairman of any township committee or village president of this State, and every minister of every religion, are hereby authorized to solemnize marriages or civil unions between such persons as may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation or civil union; and every religious society, institution or organization in this State may join together in marriage or civil union such persons according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

Can Internet ministers perform my marriage ceremony?

Yes. It is recommended you check the Internet website for the particular Internet ministry to verify that their ministers are authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.

What is required to file a delayed marriage certificate?

In order to request a delayed report of marriage, you must first file an application requesting the marriage certificate to ensure the record is not on file. If the marriage occurred within the last seven years and documentary proof is available a late marriage can be recorded. If the marriage took place more than seven years ago a delayed report must be filed by providing a copy of the marriage license application and documentary proof the marriage occurred. If the marriage license application is not available, then a court order must be obtained directing the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry to place the marriage on file as a delayed record. Please contact the Record Modification unit at 1-866-649-8726 extension 581 for further information.

 

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Ordering Vital Records

What can I do if I do not have all of the information required for a non-genealogical application (exact date the event occurred, exact municipality where the event occurred and/or mother's maiden name, etc.)?

In order to be processed your application must contain all required items. To find the required information, you may wish to check census records, newspaper archives at the local library, the federal social security death index or hire an investigator. If after exhausting all alternatives you are still unable to supply the required items you will need to obtain a court order directing the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry to issue the copy.

Is the fee for a New Jersey birth record waived for military personnel?

No.

What is the quickest way to obtain my birth certificate from New Jersey?

Same day service is offered in person at the local registrar’s office where the event took place or at the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry Counter Services in Trenton. See the Contact Us page for information on the location of this office.

What if I can’t come to either office in person, how else can I get my birth certificate quickly?
 
Online requests can be filed 24 hours a day 7 days a week via our online service. There is a $5 processing fee. $5 non-refundable verification fee and $30 shipping fee via UPS carrier which will be charged to your credit card.

Can I request a New Jersey vital record online?

Yes, please follow the instructions found on the page Ordering a copies of Vital Records Online.

 

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Same-Sex Marriage

If I was married in another state, do I need to enter in a marriage in New Jersey in order to have my marriage recognized in New Jersey?

No. Just as with opposite-sex couples, so long as your out-of-state marriage is consistent with the laws and public policy of New Jersey, your marriage is valid and recognized in this State and you will not need to enter into a New Jersey marriage.

If I am in a domestic partnership, and enter into a marriage with my current domestic partner, does the domestic partnership automatically dissolve?

No. Your domestic partnership will remain intact and will still be on file with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry after you enter into marriage with your domestic partner

If I am currently in a civil union and wish to enter into marriage, do I have to dissolve my civil union prior to entering into marriage?

You will not have to dissolve your civil union in order to enter into marriage so long as you are marrying your current civil union partner.  However, if you wish to marry someone other than your civil union partner, then you must have your civil union dissolved before you can enter into marriage with someone else. 

If I am currently in a civil union and subsequently enter into a marriage with my current civil union partner, what happens to my civil union?

Civil unions remain valid.  Your civil union will remain intact and will still be on file with the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry after you enter into marriage with your civil union partner.

Will my New Jersey Civil Union automatically convert to a marriage or must I receive a marriage license and thereafter engage in a marriage ceremony in order to be married in New Jersey?

Civil Unions will not automatically convert to marriages. Civil unions remain valid and couples may continue to enter into civil unions if those so choose.  A civil union couple will have to apply for and receive a marriage license and thereafter engage in a marriage ceremony in order to receive a marriage certificate.

Can same-sex couples continue to apply for and enter into civil unions? 

Yes.  The Civil Union Act remains in full force and effect.

If a same-sex couple is already legally married in another state   and wishes to enter into marriage in New Jersey, would the couple be entering into a marriage or a remarriage? 

The couple would be entering into a remarriage.  Any couple married outside of the State that wishes to renew their marriage commitment in New Jersey may do so by applying for and receiving a remarriage license and thereafter engage in a remarriage ceremony, as set forth at N.J.S.A. 37:1-7.  The 72 hour waiting period does not apply to remarriages.
                       
If I am currently in a civil union and applied for a marriage license with my current civil union partner, must I wait 72 hours before receiving my marriage license?

Yes. All individuals, including those already in a civil union, who apply for marriage licenses must comply with the 72 hour waiting period unless a New Jersey Superior Court Judge enters an order waiving the wait period due to emergency circumstances.

If I am currently in a civil union and wish to enter into marriage with my current civil union partner, should I apply for a remarriage license or a marriage license?

Couples who are currently in a civil union and have not entered in a valid marriage outside of this State must apply for a marriage license, not a remarriage license, and must wait 72 hours before receiving their marriage license.

 

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Maintained by Office of Vital Statistics and Registry for information on registering, amending or obtaining copies of vital records please contact us toll-free nationwide at 1-866-649-8726 or for individuals within the 609 area code at (609) 292-4087.


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Last Modified: Tuesday, 27-May-14 15:47:29