Common questions about vital records
||About the ordering process
- Where are you located?
Our physical location is in the Ninth & Jefferson Building, 908 Jefferson St, 2nd Floor, Seattle. Our mailing address is: Box 359784, 325 Ninth Ave, Seattle, WA 98104-2499.
- I just want to see if a certificate exists but not order one. How do I do that?
You must make the request in writing and pay the $8 fee prior to conducting the search or verification. Any time a record is searched for and is not found, an $8.00 search fee is charged per the Revised Code of Washington. See instructions and download the order form to do this.
- Can I get a credit card-sized certificate?
No, credit card sized copies of birth certificates are no longer available. Not all of the information was provided on them. For this reason, they became invalid documents by federal law in 1989.
- Is there a difference between a "certificate" and "record"?
"Birth record" and "birth certificate" are the same. Follow the same instructions.
- Are the records certified?
Birth and death certificates issued are certified copies printed on special certified paper with a printed and raised seal. No uncertified copies are issued.
- How do get an Apostille for my certificate?
An Apostille is a document that authenticates notaries' or state officials' signatures for foreign use, e.g. foreign-born adoptions, marriages overseas, etc. Apostilles are prepared by the Washington State Secretary of State Office in Olympia, WA at:
Secretary of State
Apostille and Certificate Program
801 Capitol Way South
Olympia, WA 98504
- Where can I get records outside of King County?
For birth certificates prior to 1921 and non-King County death certificates, contact the Washington State Center for Health Statistics at 360-236-4300 or toll-free, 800-525-0127. You can get a birth certificate from 1921 to present through King County Vital Statistics.
- May I send one check for 2 or more records?
Yes, you can send one check, for example, $40 for two birth certificates, although you will need to fill out a separate order form for each record.
- How long does it take for you to mail me a certified record?
Ordering by mail: Birth or death certificate orders received through the mail take approximately two weeks, which includes time for US Post Office delivery.
If you come in person: Orders requested in person at the Vital Statistics office normally take less than twenty minutes unless there is some complication with the record.
If you order by credit card: Orders requested over the telephone, via fax or through the website using a credit card will be processed the same day or the following business day. When placing these orders there is an additional expedited fee of $12.50. Your choices of delivery are regular mail (included) or UPS overnight which is an additional $18.50.
NOTE: A fee of $12.50 is added per order (for any quantity of records in the order) for expedited handling so if you are ordering one birth certificate at $20 + $12.50 handling fee, you can expect a total of $32.50 charged to your credit card. If you are ordering 2 copies, the charge is $40 + $12.50 = $52.50 total charged to your card.
- The Vital Statistics Office couldn't find my record but why was I charged $8.00 anyway?
Anytime a record is searched for and is not found, an $8.00 search fee is charged per the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 70.58.107). The refund balance will be sent in approximately 3 weeks.
||Birth certificate questions
- I was born and adopted in Washington State, how can I get my original birth certificate?
In the State of Washington, adoption records are sealed. One possibility would be to hire a "confidential intermediary" to assist you in your searching for your birth parents. Contact the King County Superior Court Adoption Service at 206-296-9350 for information. They are located in the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Room W-280, Seattle, WA 98104.
- I received my birth certificate but I see errors - or - I have changed my name recently. How can I make changes or edits on my birth record?
The Affidavit for Correction form is on the back of the certified certificate along with instructions and it must be returned within one year of the date it was issued to receive a replacement copy free of charge. The certificate will not be available until the Department of Health in Olympia processes the change affidavit.
If you do not see the affidavit printed on the back, click here to download the Affidavit for Correction in PDF format.
- I received my birth certificate but why isn't the time of my birth listed?
All changes to birth records are handled by the Washington State Dept. of Health in Olympia. If you were born between the years of 1949 to 1967, no times were reported on births. You should check with the hospital where you were born to see if they have retained original records of your birth which may indicate the time.
||Death certificate questions
- How can I get access to a list of individuals who have died in King County in the last ten years?
Sorry, but there is no master list of names of people who have died in King County. Please follow the instructions on how to purchase a death certificate.
- How can I find out where someone was buried?
The only way this information can be found is to find the death certificate. Key identifiers are needed to locate the correct certificate as noted in the instructions on how to purchase a death certificate.
- Also, we have death records for all persons who died in Seattle city limits (all years) or in King County (1944 forward) only. The death certificate costs $20 and can be ordered from Vital Statistics at the Ninth & Jefferson Building, 908 Jefferson St, 2nd Floor, Seattle, WA 98104 or by ordering a death certificate.
- For deaths that occurred in Washington State outside King County, contact the Washington State Center for Health Statistics at 360-236-4300 or toll-free, 800-525-0127.