Vital Records: Requesting a Vital Record

Wisconsin birth, death, marriage, and divorce records from October 1907 to now are available. You can order them from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.

Birth, marriage, death, and divorce records are also available through Wisconsin county Register of Deeds offices. For Wisconsin birth and death records you can also contact the Milwaukee City Health Office or the West Allis City Health Office.

Records may not be always available. It depends on the event type and date. See details below.

Online and phone orders

The Wisconsin Vital Records Office works with VitalChek Network Inc. for these services. You can pay with any major credit card. This includes American Express®, Discover®, MasterCard®, or Visa®. There is a fee for using VitalChek.

Order records online

Call VitalChek at 877-885-2981 to place an order by phone.

Processing time

Requests are completed in about five business days. If you need it sooner, you may be able to get it faster for another fee.

Shipping methods

USPS Regular Mail
UPS Next Day Air
UPS Worldwide

Mail orders

Mailing address

Wisconsin Vital Records Office
PO Box 309
Madison, WI 53701

Processing time

Once we get your order, it takes about 10 business days to complete. This does not include the time it takes to mail it to and from our office.

Shipping methods

USPS regular mail

Fees

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

Payment methods

You can pay by cash, check, or money order in U.S. funds. Checks or money orders must be payable through a U.S. bank. They should be written out to “State of Wis. Vital Records.” Personal checks must be preprinted. They must have the account holder’s name, account, routing, and check numbers on them.

Applications and forms of identification needed

Please use easy-to-read copies of your original identification. Do not send your originals. Also, make sure they are not expired. We cannot use expired documents.

You may send a copy of ONE of the items from this list:

  • State-issued driver's license or ID card
  • U.S. government-issued photo ID
  • U.S. or foreign passport
  • Tribal or military ID card

Or you may send a copy of TWO of the items from this list:

  • Bank/earnings statement
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Health insurance card
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Vehicle registration/title

Wisconsin vital records application forms

In-person orders

In-person service is available by appointment. This does not include in-person research appointments. To schedule an appointment, please call 608-266-1373, option 4. Please use our mail and online services when possible.

Location

Wisconsin Vital Records Office
1 West Wilson Street, Room 160
Madison, WI 53703

Processing time

Up to one hour

Fees

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

Payment methods

You can pay by cash, check, or money order in U.S. funds. Checks or money orders must be payable through a U.S. bank. They should be written out to "State of Wis. Vital Records." Personal checks must be preprinted. They must have the account holder’s name, account, routing, and check numbers on them.

You can also pay by MasterCard®, Visa® and Discover® credit cards for in-person orders.

Applications and forms of identification needed

Please bring one of the following types of identification. Also, make sure they are not expired. We cannot use expired documents.

You may bring ONE of the items from this list:

  • State-issued driver's license or ID card
  • U.S. government-issued photo ID
  • U.S. or foreign passport
  • Tribal or military ID card

Or you may bring TWO of the items from this list:

  • Bank/earnings statement
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Health insurance card
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Vehicle registration/title

Applications are available in our office. You can also print and complete an application before coming to your appointment.

Wisconsin vital records application forms

How to get your record: FAQs (frequently asked questions)

How are certified and uncertified copies different?

A certified copy of a record issued by the State Vital Records Office is printed on security paper. It also has a raised seal and the signature of the State Registrar. State law limits who can get a certified copy of a record. You can find details about who can get one on the second page of the application form.

An uncertified copy of a record has the same information as a certified copy. However, it’s printed on plain white paper. It also includes a stamp showing it cannot be used for legal or identification purposes.

How are long-form and short-form birth certificates different?

Short-form birth certificates work for most legal and identification purposes. Each one includes the person’s name, sex, birth date, and place of birth. They also include parents’ names, ages or birthdates, and birthplaces.

The long form also includes birth facility, mother’s residence, time of birth, birth weight, and crown-heel length. If the information was not given at the time the birth record was filed, it won’t be on the long form.

The long form doesn’t cost extra. Simply write “Long Form” on the application if you’d like it.

What is the difference between a Fact of Death certificate and an Extended Fact of Death certificate?

Fact of Death certificates contain demographic information. They do not contain the manner of death or cause of death. They also don't include the final burial information. Most financial transactions only need this certificate.

Extended Fact of Death certificates also have information lake location, manner and cause of death, and final burial place. Insurance benefits claims usually use this type of certificate. For deaths that occurred less than 50 years ago, you must be a direct descendant or someone with direct and tangible interest to get a copy.

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

We require at least the name of the person and a time period to search. If the person you're searching for has a common last name like Smith or Jones, we'll need more information. This could include place of birth or birth parents' names.

Wisconsin vital records have been organized in different ways over the years. To better understand search periods and fees, see below.

Birth search periods

Any five-year period from October 1, 1907, through 1947 (single-year indexes) has a $20 search fee.

Either one of the below time periods (multiyear indexes) is charged as one search and has a $20 search fee:

  • Earliest filed records through September 1907
  • 1948 to present

You may ask to have more five-year periods of single-year indexes searched. You may also ask to have more multiyear indexes searched. Each has a $20 search fee. 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 ask for a birth certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the place of birth or parents’ names. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

Death Search Periods

Any five-year period from October 1, 1907, through 1958 (single-year indexes) has a $20 search fee.

Either one of the below time periods (multiyear indexes) is charged as one search and has a $20 search fee:

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

You may ask to have more five-year periods of single-year indexes searched. You may also ask to have more multiyear indexes searched. Each has a $20 search fee. For example, the cost for our office to search for a death certificate from 1940 through 1949 (10 years of single-year indexes) would be $40.

If you ask for a death certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the place of death. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

Marriage Search Periods

Any five-year period from October 1, 1907, through 1972 (single-year indexes) has a $20 search fee:

Either one of the below time periods (multiyear indexes) is charged as one search and has a $20 search fee:

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

You may ask to have more five-year periods of single-year indexes searched. You may also ask to have more multiyear indexes searched. Each has a $20 search fee. 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 ask for a marriage certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the name of spouse or county. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

Divorce search periods

Any five-year period from 1936 through 1964 (single-year indexes) has a $20 search fee:

Either one of the below time periods (multiyear indexes) is charged as one search and has a $20 search fee:

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

You may ask to have more five-year periods of single-year indexes searched. You may also ask for multiyear indexes searched. Each has a $20 search fee. 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 ask for a divorce or annulment certificate for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the name of the spouse or county. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

Domestic partnership

We can search for a declaration of domestic partnership record even if you don’t have everything needed for the application. To do this you must provide the name of one of the partners and a year range to search.

If you ask for a declaration of domestic partnership record for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the name of the other partner or where it was filed. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

Termination of domestic partnership

We can search for a termination of domestic partnership record even if you don’t have everything needed for the application. To do this you must provide the name of one of the partners and a year range to search.

If you ask for a termination of domestic partnership record for a person with a common last name, such as Anderson, Johnson, or Smith, you must include more identifying information. This information could be the name of the other partner or where the termination was filed. Please include as much information as possible to help in the search.

What if I don't have acceptable identification?

If the person listed on the record doesn’t have acceptable identification, they can write a statement that allows someone else to apply on their behalf. The written statement should be signed by the person listed on the record. They should then submit it along with the application. The person who completes the application should send their own identification.

If you want your child’s record, you can ask for a certified copy for yourself. To do this, include your information in the "Applicant" section of the application. You will also submit your own identification.

How can I order records from other states?

The Wisconsin Vital Records Office has certificates only for events that happened in Wisconsin. This also includes records for foreign-born children who were adopted in Wisconsin. To learn more about getting certificates from other states and U.S. territories, visit The National Center for Health Statistics.

What if I can't find the record I requested?

If we can’t find the record you requested, we’ll return a “not found” letter to you. This will include the years we searched. The $20 search fee is nonrefundable.

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

We can provide a Letter of Non-Marriage, but only if you need it for a marriage in another country. If you need proof that no certificate of marriage has been filed with our office, we’ll conduct a search. This search includes the years you were a Wisconsin resident in one of two ways:

  • From the time you turned 16 until present

Or

  • From the time your last marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death until present

If no Certificate of Marriage is found, you’ll get a notarized Letter of Non-Marriage. This is proof that no Certificate of Marriage is on file in the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.

To get a Letter of Non-Marriage, please complete an application and submit it to our office. Include your identification and payment.

How can I get an apostille?

Some countries require you get a certificate showing a vital record is authentic (called an apostille). In Wisconsin, an apostille is given by the Office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State. To learn more, visit the website of the Office of the Secretary of State.

If you need help getting a certified copy of a vital record and submitting it to the Office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State, follow the steps below:

  1. Complete an application for a copy of the vital record from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.
  2. Complete an application for an apostille from the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s Office.
  3. You must send the required Wisconsin vital records application form, identification, and fee, AND the Secretary of State’s order form, fee, and a self-addressed stamped envelope. The stamped envelope is addressed to you with the return address from the Secretary of State. Send all of the above to the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.

After the Wisconsin Vital Records Office gets the forms and fees for both agencies from you, we’ll create a certified copy of the vital record. Then we will submit it along with the Secretary of State’s application, fees, and the self-addressed stamped envelope to the Office of the Secretary of State. They will complete their process and return the certified copy and apostille to you in the envelope you gave them.

How can I get a copy of a divorce decree?

The State Vital Records Office issues the Certificate of Divorce. This is a single-page document with basic information. This includes the parties’ names and the date and place of the divorce.

The clerk of court issues the court decree or judgment. This is a longer document that contains details of the divorce. If a copy of the court decree or judgment is required, you must contact the Clerk of Court office in the county in which the divorce occurred. The State Vital Records Office doesn’t register or issue divorce court decrees or judgments.

Can I submit several requests in the same envelope?

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

Last Revised: June 15, 2022