Washington Vital Records

Washington Vital Records

The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Washington regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates and are compiled and stored in permanent central registry state entities uses to develop statistical analysis of its population.

Birth Records

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. The state of Washingon organizes the birth records into two categories based on the sources the information was collected from, including early-1907 and 1907-present. In the early–1907 category or otherwise called county records were collected from Washington church records and county records of vital statistics, which provide the earliest evidence of births. The county has been keeping records from as early as the county was formed. In the 1907-present category, also called state records, all the records are available at  Washington State Center for Health Statistics. 

Death Records

A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of  Washington manages death records in the following categories, based on the sources the information was and is collected, including early-1907 and 1907-present. All records in the early-1907 category were collected from Washington’s Family History Library, which has gathered records from all the county registers and church registers.  The state of Washington enacted a statewide registration in 1907 but was generally complied with by the end of 1917. These records are available at the Washington State Center for Health Statistics. 

Marriage/Divorce Records

A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. The state of Washington organizes marriage/divorce records into two categories based on the sources the information was/is collected from, which includes county records and state records. The statewide registration was signed into law in 1968. The county records were and are gathered as early as the county was formed, county clerks were assigned the task of recording marriages. All records collected from the beginning of 1968 are indexed. The records are collected at Washington’s Family History Library. Divorce records are managed into two categories based on the sources and places the information was and is collected, including territorial divorce records and county divorce records.  the record from both categories is available at the Washington State Library.

Why Vital Records are Available to the Public?

In 1972, the Washington State Legislature passed a law named the Washington Public Records Act. This law was enabled with the last changes in 2010 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public: Public Records Act. Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.

What Does Vital Records Access mean to You?

The law is similar to the Washington Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. The Washington Public Records Act intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.


Washington State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (206) 202-0040

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Washington Thurston County Courthouse 1905

Washington Thurston County Courthouse 1905

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