Requesting a Vital Record

Information shown below provides information on how to request records from our office.

Information on this page has been organized into three categories. Please choose one of the following tabs.

In-Person Requests

In-Person Requests
Wisconsin Vital Records Office
1 West Wilson Street, Room 160
Madison, WI 53703

Hours
8:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday
Office closure dates

Processing time
Up to two hours

Fees
$20 for first copy of each record
$3 for each additional copy of the same record

Payment methods
Cash, check, or money order in U.S. funds. Checks or money orders must be made payable through a U.S. financial institution. Personal checks must be preprinted with the account holder's name, account number, routing number, and check number.

We accept MasterCard, Visa and Discover credit cards for in-person requests.

Applications are available in our office, or bring a completed application to our office.

Acceptable identification required. At least one form of identification must show your name and address. Expired documents will not be accepted. Original documents are required to apply in person.

ONE of the following:

  • Wisconsin driver's license
  • Wisconsin ID card
  • Out-of-state driver's license/ID card

or TWO of the following:

  • U.S. government-issued photo ID
  • Passport
  • Checkbook/bank statement
  • Health insurance card
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Paycheck or earnings statement

Mail Requests

Mailing address
Wisconsin Vital Records Office
P.O. Box 309
Madison, WI 53701

Processing time
Approximately five days after receipt

Shipping methods
USPS Regular Mail

Fees
$20 for first copy of each record
$3 for each additional copy of the same record

Payment methods
Cash, check, or money order in U.S. funds. Checks or money orders must be payable through a U.S. financial institution. Checks or money orders must be made payable to State of Wis. Vital Records through a U.S. financial institution. Personal checks must be preprinted with the account holder’s name, account number, routing number, and check number.

Applications and acceptable identification required:
At least one form of identification must show your name and address. Expired documents will not be accepted. Please include legible photocopies of your identification. Do not mail originals.

ONE of the following:

  • Wisconsin driver's license
  • Wisconsin ID card
  • Out-of-state driver's license/ID card

or TWO of the following:

  • U.S. government-issued photo ID Passport
  • Checkbook/bank statement
  • Health insurance card
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Paycheck or earnings statement

Online Requests

Online requests are processed through VitalChek.

Processing time
One to five days after receipt

Shipping methods
USPS Regular Mail
UPS Next Day Air
UPS Worldwide

Payment methods
Credit card or debit card
After placing your order, you will be required to submit identification along with your signature in order to complete your request.

Acceptable identification required:

At least one form of identification must show your name and address. Expired documents will not be accepted. Please include legible photocopies of your identification.

ONE of the following:

  • Wisconsin driver's license
  • Wisconsin ID card
  • Out-of-state driver's license/ID card

or TWO of the following:

  • U.S. government-issued photo ID
  • Passport
  • Checkbook/bank statement
  • Health insurance card
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Paycheck or earnings statement

Requesting a Record: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a certified and an uncertified copy?

A certified copy of a record issued by the State Vital Records Office is printed on security paper and has a raised seal and the signature of the State Registrar. State law restricts who may obtain a certified copy of a record. The criteria for obtaining a certified copy are listed on the second page of the application form.

An uncertified copy of a record contains the same information as a certified copy, but is printed on plain white paper and includes a stamp indicating it is not acceptable for legal or identification purposes.

What is the difference between a long-form birth certificate and a short-form birth certificate?

We normally issue short-form birth certificates, which include the child’s name, sex, birth date, and place of birth, as well as parents’ names, ages or birth dates, and birthplaces. The short form is acceptable for most legal and identification purposes.

The long form includes all the same information as the short form, plus additional information such as birth facility, mother’s residence, time of birth, birth weight, and crown-heel length, if that information was provided when the birth record was filed.

To request the long form, write “Long Form” on the application. There is no additional charge for requesting the long form.

What is the difference between a fact-of-death certificate and an extended fact-of-death certificate?

Fact-of-death certificates contain the manner of death (e.g,. natural, accident), but do not contain the cause of death (e.g., metastatic cancer, complications of left hip fracture) and can be used for most financial transactions. Extended fact-of-death certificates contain cause of death information and can be used for insurance benefit claims. For deaths occurring in 2003 and later, only persons with a direct and tangible interest can obtain certified copies of extended fact-of-death certificates.

What if I don't know all the information on the application?

We require at least the name of the subject of the record and a time period to search. If you are requesting a record for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the place of birth or parents’ names.

Because of the different ways Wisconsin vital records have been indexed over the years, how they are searched differs depending on the type of record and the year(s) searched. Please review the information below to see what constitutes a search and the associated costs.

Birth Search Periods

Any five-year period in the following single-year indexes requires a $20 search fee:

  • October 1, 1907, through 1947

Either one of the following multiyear indexes is considered one search period and requires a $20 search fee:

  • Earliest filed records through September 1907
  • 1948 to present

You may request that an additional five-year period of single-year indexes is searched OR an additional multiyear index is searched for $20. For example, the cost for our office to search for a birth certificate from 1910 through 1919 (10 years of single-year indexes) would be $40.

If you are requesting a birth certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the place of birth or parents’ names. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

Death Search Periods

Any five-year period in the following single-year indexes requires a $20 search fee:

  • October 1, 1907, through 1958

Either one of the following multiyear indexes is considered one search period and requires a $20 search fee:

  • Earliest filed records through September 1907
  • 1959 to the present

You may request that an additional five-year period of single-year indexes is searched OR an additional multiyear index is searched for $20 each. For example, the cost for our office to search for a death certificate from 1940 through 1949 (10 years of single indexes) would be $40.

If you are requesting a death certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the place of death. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

Marriage Search Periods

Any five-year period in the following single-year indexes requires a $20 search fee:

  • October 1, 1907, through 1972

Either one of the following multiyear indexes is considered one search and requires a $20 search fee:

  • Earliest filed records through September 1907
  • 1973 to the present

You may request that an additional five-year period of single-year indexes is searched OR an additional multiyear index is searched for $20 each. For example, the cost for our office to search for a marriage certificate from 1907 through 1916 (10 years of single-year indexes) would be $40.

If you are requesting a marriage certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the name of the spouse or the county of occurrence. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

Divorce search periods

Any five-year period in the following single-year indexes requires a $20 search fee:

  • 1936 through 1964

Either one of the following multiyear indexes as one search:

  • October 1, 1907, through 1935
  • 1965 through the present

You may request that an additional five-year period of single-year indexes is searched OR an additional multiyear index is searched for $20 each. For example, the cost for our office to search for a divorce certificate from 1940 through 1949 (10 years of single-year indexes) would be $40.

If you are requesting a divorce or annulment certificate for a person with a common name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the name of the spouse or the county of occurrence. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

Domestic Partnership

We can search for a declaration of domestic partnership record even if you cannot provide all the information requested in the application. For us to search our files for a declaration of domestic partnership record when some information is not available, you must provide the name of one of the partners and a year range to search.

If you are requesting a declaration of domestic partnership record for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the name of the other partner or the county where the declaration was filed. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

Termination of Domestic Partnership

We can search for termination of domestic partnership certificates even if you cannot provide all the information requested in the application. For us to search our files for a termination of domestic partnership certificate when some information is not available, you must provide the name of one of the partners and a year range to search.

If you are requesting a termination of domestic partnership certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include additional identifying information, such as the name of the other partner or the county where the termination was filed. Please include as much additional information as possible to assist in the search.

What if I don't have acceptable identification?

If the person listed on the record does not have acceptable identification, he/she can provide a written authorization for someone else to apply on his/her behalf. The written authorization should be signed by the person listed on the record and should be submitted along with the application. The person completing the application should submit his/her own identification.

If you are requesting your child’s record, you are able to request a certified copy yourself. Enter your information in the Applicant section of the application and submit your own identification.

How can I order records from other states?

The Wisconsin Vital Records Office has certificates only for events that occurred in Wisconsin, as well as birth records for foreign-born children who were adopted in Wisconsin. The National Center for Health Statistics provides information on obtaining certificates from other states and U.S. territories.

What if you can't find the record I'm requesting?

If we cannot locate the record you have requested, we will return a “not found” letter showing which years we searched. The $20 search fee is nonrefundable.

How can I request proof that I've never been married?

Our office provides a Letter of Non-Marriage only as a requirement for marriage in another country. If you require proof that no certificate of marriage has been filed in our office, a search will be conducted for those years that you were a resident of Wisconsin either (1) from the time you turned 16 until the present or (2) from the time your last marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death until the present.

If no Certificate of Marriage is found, you will receive a notarized Letter of Non-Marriage as proof that no Certificate of Marriage is on file in the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.

To request a Letter of Non-Marriage, please complete an application and submit it to our office, along with your identification and the appropriate fee.

How can I get an apostille?

An apostille is a specific authenticating certificate for a vital record that may be required by other countries. In Wisconsin, an apostille is issued by the Office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State. Information on how to obtain an apostille is available on the website of the Office of the Secretary of State.

If you want the Wisconsin Vital Records office to assist you with obtaining a certified copy of a vital record and submitting the certified copy to the Office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State, you must do the following:

  1. Complete an application for a copy of the vital record from the State Vital Records office.
  2. Complete an application for an apostille from the Wisconsin Secretary of State's office.
  3. Submit the required Wisconsin Vital Records application form, identification, and fee; and the Secretary of State's order form, fee, and prepaid envelope (from the Secretary of State to you) to the Wisconsin Vital Records Office for processing.

Once the Wisconsin Vital Records Office has received acceptable forms and fees for both agencies from you, we will create a certified copy of the vital record and will submit the certified copy, Secretary of State's application, Secretary of State's fees, and prepaid envelope directly to the Office of the Secretary of State. They will complete their process and return the certified copy and apostille directly to you in the envelope you provided for them.

How can I get a copy of a divorce decree?

Our office has only the Certificate of Divorce, which is a single-page document that contains basic information, such as the parties’ names and the date and place of the divorce.

For a copy of the court decree or judgment, which is the longer document issued by the court that contains detailed information regarding the divorce, you will need to contact the clerk of court in the county in which the divorce occurred. Contact the Wisconsin Clerk of Court of the county where the divorce occurred.

Can I submit several requests in the same envelope?

Yes, multiple requests can be submitted in the same envelope. If all the requests are being mailed back to the same address, you can also include one self-addressed stamped envelope for multiple requests.

 

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Last Revised: September 7, 2017