How to Find Birth Records Online

See where and when you were born, and more

What to Know

  • Birth record finder: For original documents, go to your state's vital records website or request a birth certificate copy from VitalChek.
  • Ancestry service: Geneology sites often include birth record information posted by relatives. Some have a birth record search feature.
  • Go offline: Census records, old newspaper articles, churches with baptismal records, family bibles, and cemeteries are other options.

This articles covers various methods for locating a birth record, either online or offline.

Use a Birth Record Finder

The most reliable sources for birth records are primary sources—the originating entities that processed the documents. Birth certificates and records are materials authenticated by governmental and hospital organizations.

How this works varies by state, so your best bet is to find your state's vital records web page through the National Center for Health Statistics and go from there, or you can use the VitalChek website to request a copy of your birth certificate. If you're not in the US, you might be able to search for birth records or family history information through official government websites, such as birth registries in Australia or Library and Archives Canada. You can also use a free service like Family Tree Now.

North Dakota Division of Vital Records
North Dakota Division of Vital Records.

You can also do a general web search for birth records *.gov, such as california birth records *.gov. From there, you'll find the official website for where you can request vital records such as your birth information (e.g., like the vital records page from the California Department of Public Health).

Another broad public records search site is State Records. All you need is a name and location, but accessing the full birth records cost several dollars per month, otherwise, all you can see about the person is their current age and relatives.

State Records results for Scott D Cole
State Records Results.

Archives' vital records is another example where you must pay to view the birth records.

Not all birth records contain the same information; this varies both by country and state. For example, the time of birth might only be available on a "long form" birth certificate or may be excluded entirely on really old records or birth certificates belonging to someone born in a city with a relatively small population.

Use an Ancestry Service

Your next best option is to use an ancestry website. If someone has included your information in a genealogy report, you might find birth record information such as when and where you were born, who your relatives are, and maybe more.

Some ancestry sites even have search options to look for birth records specifically. You could try FamilySearch's Historical Records or Findmypast, which is a genealogy service that can display someone's birth date and general location; it works in the US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and other places.

Go Offline

Some state, county, or church records aren't online and likely never will be. For example, a church with baptismal records—which, depending on the time period you're interested in, might be the only birth record available—stretching back 200 or 300 years have little to no incentive to pay to digitize and surface those documents.

Using clues from census records, old newspaper articles, and related family histories can often get you in the right neighborhood.

For example, if you were baptized and you know where, contact the institution and ask if you can search through their records for your information. Or, if you have an idea of where you were born, you can contact that specific hospital and ask for the records department to dig up your information, provided you can give them enough personal information to prove that it's really your information you're after.

If all else fails, some other offline places to look for the time you were born (and other birth-related information) include baby books, birth announcements (these are sometimes found in newspapers, too), and bibles.

Although it's a stretch if you don't have much information to start with, you might have luck finding someone's birth date, and possibly other details, from a cemetery. If you have no clue where to even begin, a grave finder like BillionGraves is a good starting point and can even save you a trip to a physical gravesite. Even if all you find is the person's deceased relative, that could be used as helpful data in a genealogy search.

  • How is time of birth determined?

    Someone's time of birth is declared as soon as the entire baby (from head to toes) has been removed from the parent's body.

  • What does the time I was born mean for me?

    Many who follow astrology believe that your time of birth can have an affect on how you view the world and how others see you, due to your rising sign. Outside of astrology, your birth time is just an added data point—it's not necessary for any official registration or documentation.

  • How do I find what time I was born without a birth certificate?

    The best way to figure out when you were born without official documentation is to directly ask your parents, or someone who was present at your birth. Individual accounts aren't as precise, but if you don't want to request a copy from the government or dig through records it's your best bet.

  • How does SnapChat know what time I was born?

    Snapchat's astrological features require precise times and dates of a user's birth to work. The app cannot intuit the information itself. Users have to manually input the information.

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