About Vital Records
Vital records and vital events are defined as birth, death, fetal deaths (stillbirth), induced termination of pregnancy, marriage and divorce certificates and reports. Georgia Code Chapter 31-10, and Georgia Department of Public Health Regulation 290-1-3 specify the scope and authority of the Georgia vital records program.
The Role of the State Office of Vital Records
Several services and activities are offered by vital records state and county office staff to the public and other agencies. The primary vital records services are listed below. Call 404-679-4702 if you have questions about the services offered or the fees charged. You may call the same number if you need the telephone number or address of a vital records office located in another state or for more information see the CDC's information page for other states' vital records offices.
State office staff:
- Prepare certified copies of birth and death records (nearly 200,000 copies each year)
- Record and enter all occurrences of Georgia vital events into the vital records database (more than 318,000 records each year)
- Provide services to walk in customers (more than 43,000 persons each year)
- Provide county custodians of vital records with copies of birth and death certificates (more than 213,000 copies each year)
- Prepare delayed certificates of birth, amend birth and death records, complete new birth certificates upon receipt of adoption orders, and process legitimation and paternity acknowledgments (nearly 15,000 documents each year)
Each of the 159 county vital records offices is authorized to prepare certified copies of birth and death certificates for vital events that occurred in their specific county. However, not all of these locations initiate filing delayed certificates of birth or process amendments to a vital record.
How Vital Records are Processed
Vital records are completed in the county where the event occurred and require the skills and cooperation of many people and various professions. NOTE: only Georgia vital records are filed in this state.
The majority of birth records are completed by hospital staff. Out of institution (or home) births are initiated with the county vital records registrar where the birth occurred, but DHR Regulation 290-1-3-.05 must be explicitly followed to register an out of institution birth. Death certificates are completed by funeral directors and certifying physicians, except in the case of coroner investigations where the coroner certifies the manner of death. Fetal death (spontaneous abortion or stillbirth) certificates are completed by hospital staff and certifying physicians. Induced termination of pregnancy reports are completed by clinic staff. Marriage applications and licenses are completed by probate judges and marriage officials. Reports of divorce are completed by the Clerks of the Superior Courts. Original records, except marriage and divorce reports, are filed at the state office of vital records.
The History of Vital Records
The state vital records office maintains birth and death records filed from 1919 to the present. Marriage applications and licenses from 1952-1996 are also on file. No divorce records are on file at the state office, however, an index of divorce events from 1952 to the present is available. Some counties may have older birth, death, marriage, or divorce records in their files, but county files only contain records of vital events that occurred in that county.
For other historical information you may want to contact the Georgia Division of Archives and History. The Archives maintains a large public collection of historical records plus a library of genealogical histories.