Open Public Record Act:
The Florida Sunshine Law allows the public to access any records that are made or received by a public agency while conducting official business. Public records are not limited to written documents but also includes tapes, photos, film, electronic records, and sound recordings. In addition, this law also allows the public right of access to most meetings of government agencies and authorities in the state, including commissions and boards.
The Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains all birth records for the entire state. You can request for a copy of a birth certificate in person during business hours at this office located in Jacksonville, Florida. You can also submit a request by mail or online through a third party vendor, VitalChek.
To submit a request, you must first determine if you are eligible to receive a birth certificate. To determine eligibility, you must be one of the following:
- Be the child named on the certificate AND 18 years of age or older.
- Be the parent, guardian or legal representative of the person named on the certificate,
- Have a court order.
If you are eligible, you must complete an application for and include a copy of a valid current picture ID such as a driver’s license. The cost of a birth certificate is $9 for a computer certification (processing time is 3-5 business days). For photocopy certification, the cost is $14. Commemorative certification costs $34 and will take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Expedited service will cost an additional $10.
The Bureau of Vital Statistics also provides copies of marriage certificates for marriages that have occurred in Florida. You can obtain copies online through the contracted vendor, VitalChek. You can also obtain a copy by mail. However, you will need to make sure that the marriage license was filed with the Clerk of the Court at least 60 days before your date of application. Otherwise, you will need to obtain a copy directly from the Clerk of the Court’s office.
At the moment, marriage licenses filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics date as far back as June 6, 1927. You will need to provide the full names of both spouses, the date of marriage, and the city or county where the license was issued. You will also need to pay the fee of $5 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy requested at the same time. The normal processing time for this type of request is 3 to 5 business days. Rush orders will cost an additional $10, not including expedited shipping costs.
Divorce records are kept in the office of the Clerk of Court where the dissolution of marriage was granted. The Clerk of Court records any divorces granted within the county which may take up to 60 days. Once recorded, a Report of Dissolution of Marriage is sent to the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
You can obtain a divorce report from this office for any divorces that occurred in the state from June 6, 1927 to the present. A divorce report is an abstract report and does not contain the entire judgment of dissolution of marriage. The fee for a divorce report is $5 for one certification and an additional $4 for each additional copy.
To order a divorce report, you must provide the full names of both spouses, the date of the divorce, and the city/county where it was granted. You’ll also need to send a check or money order made payable to “Vital Statistics.” Rush requests will require you to pay an additional $10 fee.
Deaths that have occurred in the state of Florida are recorded and filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. If you wish to obtain a copy of a death certificate, you will need to make sure that you are eligible to receive one.
In the state of Florida, death certificates “without cause of death” can be ordered by anyone. However, those that state “with cause of death” are considered confidential and can only be requested by the following individuals:
- The decedent’s spouse
- A parent
- A child of the decedent (if of legal age)
- A grandchild of the decedent
- A sibling
- Any person who provides a “Will” that has been executed, an insurance policy, or other document that demonstrates his or her interest in the estate of the decedent
- Any person who can provide documentation that he/she is acting on behalf of any of the individuals mentioned above.
You can order a copy of a death certificate online through a third party vendor, VitalChek or in person at the county vital statistic office or the state office in Jacksonville. You can also submit your request by mail. You will need to submit a completed application form and a copy of a valid photo ID (i.e. driver’s license).
The cost of a certified copy of the Electronic Death Record or Photocopy certification is $5 each. Additional copies cost $4 each when ordered at the same time. Payments can be made using credit cards if requested in person. For requests by mail, you will need to include a check or money order made payable to “Vital Statistics.” Rush orders will cost an additional $10.
The Florida Crime Information Center provides the public access to a database containing information on missing persons reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. You can search the database by entering the person’s name, nickname, race, sex, date of birth, and/or age. Each file may contain the individual’s photo, name, date of last contact, date of birth, physical description, last known address, and reporting agency.
You can contact your elected officials by visiting the Florida Division of Elections website. You’ll find links to the governor’s website, US senators, US Representatives, and even your County Supervisor of Elections who will be able to obtain the contact information of your municipal and county elected officials if you need them.