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How to Find a Birth Record in Texas?

What Are Birth Records in Texas?

Birth records are vital documents containing information about births. The Vital Statistics Section (VSS) of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) maintains and issues birth records in the state. A birth record generally includes information such as the:

  • Child’s name
  • Child’s birth date
  • Child’s gender
  • Place of birth
  • Names of parents

Depending on their intended use, birth records can usually be issued in two different forms, namely birth certificates and verification letters (birth verifications).

Birth records serve several purposes, chief of which is proving legal identities. Also, child support services use birth records to confirm children’s actual relationships with their parents and other adult caregivers. Texas government also uses vital statistics generated from birth records to determine public health funding and track public health patterns in the state. Birth records play significant roles in assigning inheritance and determining residents’ eligibility for benefits. In most instances, individuals may be required to tender their birth records in a bid to enjoy the following:

  • Access to Medicaid
  • Social security
  • Driver’s and marriage licenses
  • Employment
  • Enrollment in academic institutions

How to Find and Request Birth Records Online in Texas

To look up birth records online in the State of Texas, first, determine the specific form of record desired (whether a birth certificate or verification letter). The online method for requesting birth records is usually the fastest and easiest way to find birth certificates and verifications.

For Birth Certificates

A requester must reside in the state to qualify to request certified copies of their birth certificates or those of immediate family members. An immediate family member may be a parent or guardian, child, spouse, brother or sister, or grandparent. Requesters who live outside Texas can only access their birth certificates or those of their children if they are listed as parents in the records. Online requesters are required to confirm their identities by providing the following:

  • Social Security Number

  • State-issued driver’s license or ID number

  • Proof of relationship to the person listed on the record

    A requester is also required to provide additional information such as:

  • The first and last name of the person listed on the record

  • The gender of the person named on the record

  • The city and/or county where the birth occurred

  • The first and last name of the father listed on the record

  • The first and maiden name of the mother listed on the record

For Birth Verifications

In addition to paying all the required fees, a requester must supply the following information to successfully access a birth verification online:

  • The first and last name of the person listed on the record
  • The gender of the person named on the record
  • The date of birth indicated on the record
  • The city/or county where the birth occurred

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Get Birth Records in Texas

Birth records can also be requested via mail or in person. Although the online method is considered the fastest and easiest of the three options, in-person requests are particularly helpful when recent birth records are urgently needed. Mail-in requests can also be quickly processed by opting for the expedited mail service. Note, however, that this service attracts additional fees.

Mail-in Requests

To obtain an official certified copy of a birth record by mail, an eligible applicant must do the following:

  • Download and complete the Mail Application for Birth Record with no white-outs, cross-outs, or correction tape
  • Sign the application in front of a notary and obtain a notary seal
  • Include a photocopy of an acceptable identification
  • Provide a check or money order addressed to DSHS Vital Statistics.

These requirements, however, only apply to those seeking to obtain certified copies of birth certificates in the state. To look up a birth verification letter, an interested member of the public is eligible if they can provide these details:

  • The full name of the individual named on the birth record
  • The date of birth
  • The place of birth

For standard requests:

Texas Vital Statistics
Department of State Health Services
P.O. Box 12040
Austin, TX 78711-2040

For expedited requests (which must be sent via overnight mail service):

Texas Vital Statistics
Mail Center (MC) 2096
Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756

In-person Requests

For in-person requests, qualified requesters can go to the local offices in the counties, cities, or districts where the births occurred to submit their completed Mail Applications for Birth Record. In-person submissions also require requesters to present the originals of acceptable IDs instead of the photocopies along with the associated fees. Specific locations where requesters can initiate walk-in requests for birth records in the state include:

Vital Statistics Section
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756-3199

701 West 51st Street
Austin, TX 78751

The DSHS Vital Statistics Section Austin, Texas.

Qualified persons who have met all the stipulated requirements can generally make birth records walk-in requests at the DSHS Vital Statistics Section in the City of Austin. However, COVID-19-based public health concerns have resulted in the closure of the DSHS Austin Lobby for vital records walk-in requests.

The County Clerk’ Office (For Foster or Homeless Youth)

A foster or homeless youth can physically visit the state registrar, a local registrar, or a county clerk to obtain a certified copy of their birth record. Although this issuance is done without any charge or parental consent, the youth must be:

  • A homeless child or youth as defined by federal law
  • A child for whom the DFPS acts as a conservator
  • A young adult between 18 and 21 years old who lives in a DFPS-financed foster care placement.

The youth must also attach supporting documents to their applications to prove the legitimacy of their status and qualify for this waiver.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)

The Texas DFPS Closed Adoption Record Unit maintains birth records for persons (adoptees) adopted through the Child Protective Services program. It, however, does not maintain adoption records for individuals whose adoptions were processed by private adoption placement agencies. The DFPS can furnish adult adoptees with redacted copies of their birth records upon request. However, these redacted copies are devoid of certain personal details to protect the privacy of the parties involved. Adoptees can verify if the DFPS was involved in their adoptions by calling toll free at 1 (877) 764-7230. Once verified, they can fill out and submit Form 4884 (Request From Former Foster Youth For Case Records) online. Adoptees may also choose to complete downloaded copies for subsequent mailing.

Where Can I Find Birth Records in Texas?

The Vital Statistics Section of the Texas DSHS houses and issues Texas birth records. Qualified individuals can obtain certified copies of birth records from this Section by downloading and completing the Mail Applications for Birth Record provided on the DSHS website. Requesters must then submit the filled applications accompanied by the associated fees and recommended forms of identification to:

Vital Statistics Section
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756-3199

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)

Through its Closed Adoption Records unit, the Texas DFPS also manages adoptees’ birth records. Adoptees, who are 18 years and above, can request copies of their birth records from the DFPS. However, only redacted copies are provided to hide important confidential details and preserve the privacy of the parties involved. By calling 1 (877) 764-7230 toll-free, adoptees can confirm whether their adoptions were handled by the DFPS before applying online for their birth records. Adoptees may also make additional birth records-related inquiries in person at:

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
701 West 51st Street
Austin, Texas 78751

The County Clerk’ Office (For Foster or Homeless Youth)

Foster or homeless youths can go in person to the state registrar, local registrars, or county clerks to get free certified copies of their birth records. These youths qualify for this free issuance by accompanying their application with documents that confirm their status as legitimate. Also, these youths must be:

  • Homeless children or youths as defined by federal law
  • Children for whom the DFPS acts as their conservator
  • Young adults between 18 and 21 years old who reside in DFPS-financed foster care placements.

How to Get Birth Records From a Hospital in Texas

In the State of Texas, hospitals are not authorized to issue certified copies of birth certificates or verifications to interested parties. This is because the VSS is the repository of all birth records in the state. Following the birth of a baby, designated hospital staff or administrator may compile all the information necessary to register the birth and forward them to the Texas DSHS VSS. In some other cases, the Texas DSHS provides birth certificate worksheet forms to collect all the relevant information required to register new births.

Three methods exist for submitting completed applications for birth-record requests to the VSS and they are:

  • Online orders
  • Mail-in orders
  • In-person orders

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in Texas?

No, not everyone is eligible to obtain a copy of a birth certificate. Birth certificates are exempted from public access as per the Texas Open Record Law and only qualified persons can access them. Qualified persons include:

  • The individuals named on the birth certificates,
  • Their immediate family members,
  • Their guardians, or
  • Their legal representatives or agents.

Immediate family members refer to persons related either by blood, marriage, or adoption who can be a child, parent/guardian, spouse, grandparent, or brother/sister. Every other applicant must provide documentary proof that details a clear and distinct interest in the birth certificate requested.

However, 75 years after issuing them, birth certificates become open records in Texas and can then be accessed by members of the public.

How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in Texas?

The cost of requesting a certified copy of a birth certificate in Texas is $22 per copy. All record requests are returned by default through the USPS First Class mail. Mail-in expedited requests, which cost $27 each due to an additional $5 expedited processing fee, are exceptions to this service. The certified copies of birth certificates requested are generally delivered to the specified addresses by the USPS Express Mail. Extra charges may still apply for expedited requests based on the address(es) provided.

Birth-record costs for military personnel, homeless youths, and election identification purposes are waived and do not attract charges. While an heirloom certificate and a non-certified copy of the adoptee’s birth certificate cost $60 and $10 respectively. Finally, requesters must use credit or debit cards to pay for online requests. For mail-in requests, payment options include checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. In addition to the payment methods for mail-in requests, walk-in requesters can also use debit or credit cards to make payments. The cost of birth certificates and verifications are the same regardless of the method of request. However, a credit card payment for an in-person request attracts a processing fee of $2.25 at the DSHS in the City of Austin.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Birth Certificate in Texas?

The time it takes to get a requested birth certificate is determined by the method of request. Birth record requests are usually processed within 10 to 15 business days for online requests placed on the DSHS Order Vital Record Application (OVRA) webpage. For mail-in orders, the processing time is usually within 25 to 30 business days. Note that these processing durations do not include shipping times.

How to Expunge Your Birth Records in Texas?

Birth records cannot be expunged in the State of Texas. Expungement, also known as expunction, is the legal process of deleting an offense from an individual’s criminal history record. It bars the general public, especially potential employers, from accessing expunged records and permits the accused to deny the existence of any arrest or conviction. In contrast, birth records do not constitute criminal records and are major components of the state’s vital statistics.

How to Seal Your Birth Records in Texas?

In Texas, the original birth records of adopted children are sealed by law and exempted from public access except by court orders. This was originally done to protect the adoptees from the public stigma of being viewed as illegitimate. Although in recent times, it is associated with preserving the confidentiality of the adoption process and preventing the biological parent(s) from interfering with the adoptive family.

How to Unseal Your Birth Records in Texas?

To unseal a birth record in Texas, first, obtain a court order to facilitate the release of the desired record. This is because Texas State laws mandate the sealing of birth records after the adoption process has been finalized.

These general steps can be followed when unsealing a birth record:

  • Contact the county clerk at the county where the adoption was granted for instructions and guidance.
  • File a petition in the county court to unseal the record
  • Meet with the judge to provide reasonable cause(s) and/or evidence for accessing the sealed birth record. Note that the judge is at liberty to grant or reject the petition depending on the reasons proffered.

The court order, when granted, commands the Vital Statistics Section to release the birth record. It also specifies the record to be released and the recipient of the record. The following must be sent to VSS to unseal a birth record:

  • A certified copy of the finalized court order authorizing the unsealing
  • The adoptee’s name (as shown on the current birth certificate)
  • The adoptee’s birth date
  • The adoptee’s birthplace
  • A copy of valid photo ID
  • A $10 processing fee