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Birth Records

What Are Birth Records in Tennessee?

A Tennessee birth record is an official document verifying that an individual's birth occurred in the State of Tennessee. It is a vital record detailing important information about the individual and serves as legal recognition of identity. Accurate and timely documentation of births is essential to high-quality vital statistics. Proper birth documentation allows governments to effectively plan and deliver adequate services and allocate resources across all development sectors.

A birth record provides proof of an individual's age, citizenship, and status. It is necessary for anyone to obtain a social security number, apply for a passport, enroll in schools, get a driver's license, fain employment, or apply for other benefits.

Tennessee issues two kinds of birth certificates: The long form birth certificate and the birth verification. The long form birth certificate is a printed image of the original certificate of birth. It contains information such as the child's name, date of birth, name of the hospital, address of parents, parents' dates of birth. The certificate contains a raised seal which indicates certification.

A birth verification is only a confirmation that an event occurred and is typically used for informational purposes only. It is not a certified document and cannot be used for identification. It is a handwritten transcript of information taken from the original certificate.

Tennessee only started keeping birth records statewide in 1908. However, the larger cities in the state kept earlier birth records: Knoxville (1881); Nashville (1881); Chattanooga (1879); and Memphis (1874). These four cities also kept records of births in 1913 even though Tennessee did not maintain any birth records statewide for that year. Starting in 1935, Tennessee began issuing "delayed" birth certificates to persons born in the state before the 1908 law, and to individuals born in the state who did not have a birth certificate issued at the time of birth.

How To Find and Request Birth Records Online In Tennessee?

Tennessee does not provide an option for requesters to look up birth records online. However, persons interested in obtaining birth records online can do so conveniently. Although the state does not directly accept online orders, the issuing authority contracts an independent company to provide online order service for a fee. Tennessee has only one official vendor authorized by the state to process credit/debit card transactions for online orders.

Ordering birth certificates online is the easiest and most efficient method for obtaining birth certificates in Tennessee.

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 Tennessee?

The Tennessee Department of Health provides eligible persons with access to obtain birth records in the state in person or by mail. With the introduction of an electronic issuance system in Tennessee, all county health departments can issue birth records that have been registered statewide with the Vital Records office of the Tennessee Department of Health. However, requesters are advised to call ahead before visiting the local county offices to verify work hours and other requirements that may be necessary to obtain a birth record.

A requester who has obtained a certified copy of birth certificate but needs an apostille added may send a request and the certified copy of the birth certificate to the Secretary of State along with the required fee. An apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature, seal, and position of the official who has executed, issued, or certified a copy of a public document. It enables a public document issued in one country to be recognized as valid in another country.

The request for an apostille can also be made from the start of the application process for a certified copy of birth certificate. Include one check made payable to the Tennessee Office of Vital Records for the required number of copies, and a second check of appropriate fee made payable to the Tennessee Secretary of State for the apostille. The Office of Vital Records will send copies, check, and the request to the Tennessee Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will apply the apostille and return the documents to the requester.

A white and black copy of a birth certificate that does not include a multi-colored or raised seal is not recognized as a legal document. Even if a white and black copy contains a seal, it may not be accepted as a legal copy due to the age of the document. Hence, it may be necessary to obtain a certified copy of the birth certificate.

How To Get Tennessee Birth Records In Person?

Qualified applicants have the option to complete a paper order form and present proper identification at the customer service window of the Vital Records office in order to obtain a birth record. Unqualified applicants will be required to support their applications with documentation that proves their entitlement to the record requested at the time of application. Otherwise, they must have a qualified applicant apply. Birth record order forms are located on the counter to the left of the office entrance.

Walk-in requests are also taken in the kiosk located at the Office of Vital Records. The kiosk orders automatically verify the identity of the requester even if no IDs are presented. Applicants who fail the identification verification process will be asked to provide identification documents at the front counter once the order has been transmitted for processing.

The Office of Vital Records is located at:

1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243

Note that due to the public health state of emergency surrounding COVID-19, walk-in services for birth records requests have been suspended at the State Office of Vital Records until further notice. Requesters are advised to use online and mail-in options for requests until restrictions are lifted.

How To Get Tennessee Birth Records By Mail?

To obtain a birth certificate in Tennessee by mail, complete and sign the Application for Certified Copy of a Tennessee Certificate of Birth form. Enclose the completed form, a valid ID, and appropriate fee in a mail to:

Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243

Accepted identification documentation includes:

  • A photocopy of a government-issued identification card which includes the signature of the requester
  • A notarized application for a certified copy
  • The mother's copy of the birth certificate issued at the hospital at the time of birth. It must be dated within the last two calendar years.

A requester may also provide one item from Category A or two items from Category B as alternate forms of identification:

Category A

  • Current driver's license, including the issue and expiration date.
  • Current passport
  • Military I.D. card
  • Alien, temporary, or permanent resident card
  • Employment authorization card
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship or Citizenship I.D. card

Category B

  • Current pay stub or W2
  • Vehicle registration with name and current address
  • Voter Registration card
  • Military Discharge (DD214)
  • Utility Bill, Bank Statement, or deposit slip with name and current address
  • Health care coverage card
  • Medical record
  • Application page of an insurance policy
  • Signed Social Security Card
  • A copy of a police report or other official documents that support theft for persons who have their I.D. stolen.

Requesters can check on their order by using the check order status tool on the Vital Records Page of the Tennessee Department of Health's website. The tool opens up the mail application on the user's access device to send a mail to the Customer Service Unit. The Unit requires requesters to provide details about their orders and the preferred method of contact between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the mail message. Requesters may also call the Tennessee Vital Records at (615) 741-1763 if they have not received a response within 45 days.

Where Can I Find Birth Records In Tennessee?

The Tennessee Vital Records Office maintains birth records in the state for 100 years. Beyond that period, the records are sent to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Birth records can also be obtained from the local county offices in Tennessee.

How To Get Birth Records From A Hospital In Tennessee?

Tennessee hospitals do not issue certified copies of birth certificates. However, a mother will receive a copy of the birth certificate after the birth of a child at the hospital. This copy is not accepted as a legal copy. However, it may be used to satisfy identification requirements when obtaining a certified copy of birth certificate from the Vital Records Office.

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

Other than a person named on a birth record, certified copies of Tennessee birth certificates can only be issued to:

  • A spouse of the person named on the record
  • A parent of the person named on the record
  • A legal guardian or child of the person named on the record
  • An authorized representative acting on behalf of one of the categories of persons named above

Note that any representative acting on behalf of an eligible requester can only obtain a certified copy of birth certificate by:

  • Furnishing the Vital Records Office with a photocopy of a signed government identification card of the requester and the representative; and
  • Obtaining and submitting a signed statement from the person giving the Tennessee Office of Vital Records permission to release the copy to the representative.

How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in Tennessee?

Obtaining a birth record in person and by mail in Tennessee costs $15 for the first copy and $15 for each additional copy ordered at the same time. If a requested certificate cannot be found, the Vital Records Office issues a letter certifying that no record was found. The fee for a no record found is the same as for a certified copy. Mail orders can be paid by check or money order made payable to the “Tennessee Vital Records”.

Persons who use the kiosk in the Vital Record Office lobby to make in-person orders are charged an additional non-refundable fee of $4 as vendor fee. In-person orders can be paid by cash, credit, debit cards, or money orders at the customer service window.

Although online orders for both long form certificates and birth verification copies cost $15 each, additional fees will be collected by the independent company as vendor fees. Credit and debit cards are accepted for online transactions.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Birth Certificate In Tennessee?

Most in-person requests for birth records are completed while the requesters wait. Note that the birth must have occurred more than 45 days before a request is placed. Mail requests typically take 6 weeks to complete. The six-week period does not include delivery time. For online orders, once a birth record order is complete, it is electronically sent by the next business day to the government agency for processing. Overall, online orders may take up to 3-5 business days to complete.

How To Expunge Your Birth Records In Tennessee?

Expunging a record means permanently removing it. In Tennessee, there is no provision to delete part or all of a birth record.

How To Seal Your Birth Records In Tennessee?

Upon the completion of an adoption proceeding, all information related to the adoption process including the original birth certificate is automatically sealed away from public access. An amended birth certificate is then issued to replace the original certificate. This new certificate will state the adoptive parents as the legal parents of the adoptee. No separate process is required to seal a birth record.

How To Unseal Your Birth Records In Tennessee?

Nearly all adoptees in Tennessee who are 21 years or older have a right to obtain an original birth certificate or a pre-adoption birth certificate. The only exception applies to adoptees whose birth parents were victims of incest or rape. In such instances, written consent of the birth parents will be required to release the records.

To obtain a pre-adoption birth certificate, submit a packet containing the following items:

Submit packet by mail or electronic mail to:

Mailing Address:

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services
Post Adoption Services
UBS Tower, 9th Floor
315 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243

EI_DCS.PostAdoptionServices@tn.gov

There is a fee of $150 associated with obtaining the record. Once your record is received, there is a $0.25 per page copy fee. The Department also offers optional search services for adoptions that occurred after 1951. There is a $135 for the department to conduct a search. After the Department receives a request and determines that the record is on file, the requester will be contacted about the appropriate fee.

Each submitted request is reviewed by a post-adoption staff for eligibility. A post-adoption Program Specialist provides the requester with the next steps to continue with a request. Do not send fee or documentation before receiving instructions from the Program Specialist.

Persons eligible to obtain original birth records include:

  • Adult adoptee, aged 21 or older
  • An adoptee's birth, adoptive, step, or legal parent older than 21-years of age
  • An adoptee’s birth or adoptive siblings, age 21 and older
  • An adoptee’s lineal descendants or lineal ancestors, age 21 and older

Note that the adoptee must consent to the release of any identifying information contained in the sealed record. The process to obtain sealed records may take up to 3 months. For more inquiries or information, contact the Post Adoption Services Information Line at (615) 532-5637.

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