Are Tennessee Vital Records Open to the Public?
Most vital records in Tennessee are open to the public in compliance with the Tennessee Open Records Act. Vital records include birth, death, marriage, and divorce records. Individuals seeking access to these vital records must have the information and qualifications required to inspect or copy the documents.
What Information Shows Up in Tennessee Vital Records?
Vital records are essential legal documents that chronicle significant life events, providing a comprehensive and accurate source of information for public health analysis, policy development, and genealogical research. In Tennessee, vital records are managed by the Tennessee Department of Health's Office of Vital Records.
What Information Do I Need to Search for Tennessee Vital Records Online?
Requesters who wish to search for records online must be able to provide information relevant to the sought-after record. These may include:
- The full name on the certificate
- Gender on certificate
- The time and place of the event
- Relationship to the person named on the certificate
- Additional information is listed on the certificate, such as the mother's and father's name.
How Do I Obtain Tennessee Vital Records?
Persons who want to obtain, inspect, or copy Tennessee Vital Records may apply online, by mail, or in person at the Office of Vital Records. They may also request birth or death certificates in person at a local county health department. All application forms must be completed, signed, and accompanied by a valid government-issued ID showing the applicant's signature. However, qualified applicants who have a notarized application are not required to show any additional identification.
Publicly available vital records are 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, provided it is not a juvenile.
Requesters must provide relevant information associated with the record to conduct an online search for vital records. Some of these include:
- The registrant's name
- Date of the event
- Place of the event
- City or county where the life event occurred
- First and last name of parents
- Presiding judge (for marriage or divorce records)
Certified Copy vs. Informational Copy: Understanding the Difference
Informational copies are transcripts of vital records issued to requestors without a direct or legal interest with the original owner of the certificate. Therefore, requesters cannot use them for identification purposes. On the other hand, certified copies are intended for identification purposes and are only issued to persons directly claiming the named person on the certificate or record.
Are Tennessee Marriage Records Public Information?
Most Tennessee marriage records are public information in Tennessee. However, administrators may only release certain information, like the confidential section of the marriage, for statistical data or research. Generally, public marriage records in Tennessee are stored in two locations. Marriages held and recorded in the State before 1970 are open to the public at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, excluding weddings held in Davidson County between May 1941 - June 1945, which researchers can only find at the Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County.
On the other hand, records from 1970 to the present are kept and maintained by the Tennessee Office of Vital Records, but only persons named in the original certificate or who have a direct affiliation with said persons, i.e., spouse, child, can access these records at the Office of Vital Records. Still, interested parties who do not have direct affiliation may mail in an application for verification of marriage facts document to request a transcript for informational purposes.
How Do I Obtain Marriage Records in Tennessee?
The Tennessee Office of Vital Records maintains marriage records from 1970 to the present. The public can request records in person at the Office of Vital Records or by using the mail service. Persons requesting online are required to provide information such as:
- The location of the marriage
- Relationship to the persons named in the certificate
- The names of the groom and bride
- The applicant's present legal name
Requestors may also obtain a marriage record through the mail by first completing the application for a marriage certificate and attaching a valid government-issued ID, with the $15 fee for a copy, payable by money order or check, to the:
Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
How to Get a Tennessee Marriage Certificate
Acquiring a Tennessee Marriage Certificate involves visiting the Tennessee Department of Health's Vital Records Office or the county clerk's office where the marriage took place. Eligible individuals include the bride, groom, legal representative, or immediate family members with proper identification.
Are Tennessee Divorce Records Public Information?
Tennessee divorce records between July 1, 1945, and 1969 are public information, accessible at the Tennessee State Library and Archives unless sealed by statute, rule, or court order. However, divorce records less than 50 years old are only available at the Tennessee Office of Vital Records to parties with a legitimate or direct claim. Additionally, the Office retains the right to withhold the confidential sections of the certificate or record unless the request is for research or statistical reasons.
To search divorce records or obtain copies at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, an individual must have relevant information such as
- The names of the spouses
- The actual date the parties were divorced, or a five-year range
- The county where the divorce was permitted (if available)
How Do I Obtain Divorce Records in Tennessee?
Persons can find divorce records in Tennessee by visiting the Tennessee State Library and Archives to obtain divorce records issued before 1970.
Interested persons can obtain divorce or annulment records on or after 1970 in person or by mail at the Tennessee Vital Records Office, where individuals can seek access by submitting a signed application for divorce or annulment records with a $15 fee per copy at the:
Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Divorce records requests can also be made online through the VitalChek platform.
How to Get a Certified Divorce Certificate in Tennessee
To obtain a certified divorce certificate in Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Department of Health's Vital Records Office or the county clerk's office where the divorce was granted. Eligible parties include divorced individuals or their legal representatives with valid identification.
Are Tennessee Birth Records Public Information?
The majority of birth records in Tennessee are available to the public. Similar to divorce and marriage records in the State of Tennessee, members of the public can access birth records within a timeframe. In this case, from 1920 to the present, it can be obtained at the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. But, only the person(s) named on the certificate and related individuals, such as the spouse, child, legal guardian, parents, or legal representatives, are eligible to order birth certificate replacements or copies less than 100 years old.
Additionally, birth records are also available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. But, as there were no birth records kept statewide in Tennessee before 1908, requesters have access only to records between 1908-1912 and 1914-1919.
Some third-party sites maintain online indexes where requesters can search and view birth records between a range of years in some areas of the State. For example, Memphis Birth Records between the years 1874 and 1916 are available on the Shelby County Register of Deeds. Researchers can also search Nashville records between the years 1881 and 1913 online. The Tennessee Electronic Library records 1881 - 1915 in its Genealogy section of births in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.
How Do I Obtain Tennessee Birth Records?
Individuals may request birth certificates at any local county health department in the State. Requestors must submit a completed application for birth records form along with a valid government-issued ID.
Long-form birth record copies are certified copies of the original record/ certificate. They cost more to obtain and contain more information than the short-form copies. Therefore, they are only available to persons with a direct interest in the certificate's owner. The short-form copies are notarized certificates that prove the existence of the long-form copy.
Are Birth Certificates Public in Tennessee?
No. Tennessee birth certificates are not considered public records. The Tennessee Code Annotated § 68-3-103 outlines the provisions for the disclosure of birth certificates.
Are Tennessee Death Records Open to the Public?
Yes. Public death records in Tennessee are available without cause of death in Tennessee. Only individuals with a direct interest may have access to this data. Unless the person(s) initiating the death certificate search has a court order issued by a court with authority in that regard or does so:
- As an individual or governmental body for research, statistical, or administrative reasons, with the State Registrar's approval
- As an organization whose services are aimed at providing benefits to beneficiaries of the deceased or on its behalf
- When the cause of death is needed as evidence of a legal claim
These records can be accessed through the Tennessee State Library and Archives for the period between 1908-1912 and 1914-1969. The Tennessee Office of Vital Records keeps other records on and beyond the year 1970.
How Do I Obtain Death Records in Tennessee?
Death records can be divided into two broad categories: certified and non-certified. Non-certified copies are available to the public. In comparison, only the immediate family of the named person(s) or persons with a legitimate claim to the person(s) can initiate a certified death record search by name. The certified copies may be issued with or without cause of death, depending on the requestor's reasons for the request. Each copy costs $15. Interested parties may find Death Records in six locations:
At the physical location of the Tennessee State Library and Archives during working hours, 8.00 a.m to 4.00 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday at:
Tennessee State Library and Archives
403 7th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243
Alternatively, the State Library, in partnership with a second party, the Ancestry.com site, maintains a free index of death certificates from 1908 to 1958 on the Genealogy page of the Tennessee Electronic Library.
The State Library also has a free, searchable online index for the years 1914-1933 and 1908-1912. Likewise, the Shelby County Register of Deeds maintains an index for death records between 1949 and 2014 that occurred in the State of Tennessee. The website also keeps an index of deaths recorded in Shelby County between 1848-1966.
Individuals may request access to death records in the year 1970 and above at the Tennessee Office of Vital Records by submitting an Application for Death Record in person or via mail request with a $15 fee per certified copy.
How Do I Obtain Sealed Vital Records in Tennessee?
Vital records in Tennessee aren't typically sealed to the public except for adoption records. However, the Department of Children's has the authority to allow access to adoption records and sealed adoption records to eligible individuals, who can make their requests to:
Department of Children's Services
Post Adoption Unit
436 6th Avenue, NW
8th Floor, Cordell Hull Building
Nashville, TN 37243-1290
Phone: (615) 532-5637
To obtain sealed records, eligible persons must:
- Provide a letter of authorization/ official directive from the Department of Children's Services or court order from a court with authority in the matter
- Have knowledge of the exact name/ adopted name of birth on the record
- Have knowledge of the complete date of birth on the record
- Be able to pay the applicable fees
What are Vital Statistics in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, vital statistics consist of significant life events and health data. The Tennessee Department of Health's Office of Vital Records handles the collection and analysis of this information. Understanding these statistics helps identify health trends and inform policy decisions, disease control, and the allocation of resources to improve the overall well-being of Tennessee's citizens effectively.