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Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records

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Are West Virginia Vital Records Open to the Public?

West Virginia is a “closed records” state. As such, vital records become open to the public after a statutory period of confidentiality elapses — 100 years for birth records and 50 years for death, marriage, and divorce records. Pending this expiration, certified copies of vital records are only available to persons named on the record, immediate family members, and authorized legal representatives.

 

What Information Do I Need to Search for West Virginia Vital Records Online?

Persons who wish to obtain information about West Virginia Vital Records online must provide the necessary information to facilitate a record search. This information generally includes the names of the persons named on the document as well as the date and location of the life event.

How Do I Obtain West Virginia Vital Records?

To obtain West Virginia vital records, the person requesting the record must provide sufficient information for the record search. Vital records in West Virginia are closed records, and consequently, the requester will need to provide an acceptable form of identification to receive the record. Most government agencies charge a processing fee. The requestor must complete an appropriate certificate request form and return it to the Vital Registration Office of the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), with the complete fee and proper identification.

Ineligible persons can receive West Virginia vital records if a permission slip is completed and sent to the Vital Records Office. The person named on the record or their parents must complete the slip. The Vital Records Research Project has created an online database where users can search for West Virginia Vital Records and view scanned images of original records.

Publicly available vital records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. To find a record using the search engines on third party sites, the requesting party will be required to provide: 

  • The location of the record in question, including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
  • The name of someone involved providing it is not a juvenile. 

 

What is the Difference Between a Certified Copy and an Informational Copy?

A certified copy of a West Virginia vital record is a copy issued by the DHHR or a court. A certified copy is considered valid for all identification and legal purposes. An informational copy is typically a notification of the information on the record and is not valid for legal purposes or identification.

Are West Virginia Marriage Records Public Information?

Virginia marriage records become public information after fifty years. Until this statutory period of confidentiality elapses, only the persons named on the marriage record, immediate family members, and legal representatives may obtain marriage records.

How Do I Obtain West Virginia Marriage Records?

The Vital Registration Office of the DHHR maintains a marriage records index from 1921. In addition, the office has certified copies of marriage records from 1964. Individuals that want copies of pre-1964 records must contact the court clerk in the county where the marriage occurred. Alternatively, they can submit requests to the Vital Registration Office. Requests can be submitted online, by mail, or in person. Anyone requesting a record must provide enough information for a record search. Copies of West Virginia marriage records cost $12 each.

To submit a request by mail, fill out the application for certified marriage certificate form and return it to:

Vital Registration Office
Department of Health & Human Resources
Room 165
350 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301-3701

Send a check or money order, payable to Vital Registration, for the complete fee and a copy of acceptable identification along with the application.

To submit a request in-person, bring the completed application for certified marriage certificate form, the complete fee (cash, money order, or check payable to Vital Registration), and acceptable identification to the public walk-in counter at the Vital Records Office. Meanwhile, public marriage records older than 50 years are available through the various record custodians as well as the West Virginia state archives.

Are West Virginia Divorce Records Public Information?

Divorce records in West Virginia are closed records for the first 50 years. After this, interested persons may obtain public divorce records. In the meantime, however, only the parties named on the record, immediate family members, and authorized representatives may obtain certified divorce records.

How Do I Obtain West Virginia Divorce Records?

The Vital Registration Office has maintained an index of all West Virginia divorce records since 1968. However, to obtain certified copies of divorce records in West Virginia, applicants must query the county’s Clerk of the Circuit Court where the divorce occurred. The Circuit Court will determine fees for copies of the record.

Are West Virginia Birth Records Public Information?

Birth records in West Virginia become public information after 100 years. Until this statutory period of confidentiality elapses, only persons named on the document, immediate family members, and legal representatives may obtain certified birth records.  

How Do I Obtain West Virginia Birth Records?

The Vital Registration Office was established in 1917 and has maintained records ever since. For West Virginia birth records that pre-date 1917, a query should go to the Clerk of the Court of the county where the birth was registered. To order birth certificate replacements, applicants should submit requests to the Vital Registration Office. Requests can be made online, by mail, or in person. There is a fee of $12 for each copy of a Birth Record. A requester must provide enough information for a record search.

Applicants should send mail requests to
Vital Registration Office
Department of Health & Human Resources
Room 165
350 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301-3701

The request should include a completed application for a West Virginia birth certificate, a check or money order for the appropriate fee, and a copy of acceptable identification. In-person requests should be made at the public walk-in counters at the DHHR. Requestors must provide enough information for the record search, pay the complete fee, and have an acceptable form of identification. The West Virginia state archives also provide instructions for obtaining public birth records.

Are West Virginia Death Records Open to the Public?

Death records in West Virginia become open to the public after 50 years per the West Virginia Vital Statistics Act. Until this statutory period of confidentiality elapses, only the deceased immediate family members and legal representatives may perform a death certificate search. Meanwhile, public death records in West Virginia are available in the State Archives.

How Do I Obtain West Virginia Death Records?

The Vital Registration Office of the DHHR has information on West Virginia Death Records dating back to 1917. For Death Records in West Virginia, which pre-date 1917, contact the Clerk of the Court of the county where the death was recorded. A request should be submitted to the Vital Registration Office if a copy of a West Virginia Death Record is required. Requests for records can be made online, by mail, or in-person at:

Vital Registration Office
Department of Health & Human Resources
Room 165
350 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301-3701

To mail in a request for a death record search by name, send a completed application form for an informational copy of West Virginia death certificate. Attach a check or money order (payable to Vital Registration) and a copy of the applicant’s valid photo ID (or an acceptable form of identification).

In-person requests are made at the public walk-in counters available at the DHHR. The requestor must provide enough information for the record search, pay the complete fee, and provide a valid photo ID (or an acceptable form of identification) before processing the request.

How Do I Obtain Sealed Vital Records in West Virginia?

West Virginia vital records are typically unsealed. Vital records in West Virginia are closed records and can only be obtained by specific people, who must provide acceptable identification to obtain the records. If a requested vital record is sealed, the applicant must petition a court of competent jurisdiction to unseal the vital record of interest.

West Virginia State Archives

State Archives

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

West Virginia

The Upshur County Courthouse in Buckhannon has been home to government and judicial offices since 1901.

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