New Hampshire vital records are considered to be private and access to them is restricted by statute to those individuals who have a "direct and tangible interest" in the record. To view all of the disclosure limitations to our records, click on this link to our statute: RSA 5-C:9. Certain older records are exempted from these access restrictions: "Birth records more than 100 years old and death, marriage, and divorce records more than 50 years old shall be considered part of the public domain." (RSA 5-C:105)
Individuals wishing to research these "genealogical" records may do so by visiting our "Genealogical Research Center" that is located at our site at 9 Ratification Way (formerly 71 South Fruit Street), Concord, NH 03301. Alternatively, upon receipt of a completed application, positive identification and the required fee, Vital Records staff will research records for you.
Correcting Vital Records
Sometimes a person finds that the information on the official record is not complete or that some item of information on the certificate does not agree with what he/she believes to be the facts. When this is the case, it is possible to have missing information added or to have errors on the certificate corrected. Below, you will find information on how to proceed.
Who Can Amend a Certificate?
Any person may apply for completion or correction of any certificate in which he/she is directly interested. Ordinarily, this will be the person whose certificate needs to be completed or corrected, one of the parents or the legal representative of the individual. If the registrant is 18 years of age or older, he/she must approve the requested change when the application is submitted by anyone other than themselves.
Where Application Should be Made?
Application to correct or complete a certificate must be made to the clerk of the city or town in which the event occurred. The fee for making a correction on a certificate is $10. This fee must accompany the application. If a certified copy of the record is desired, there is an additional fee of $15. per copy. Checks should be made payable to: the City/Town Clerk of that city or town where the event occurred.
How to Apply?
There is a special form used for the purpose of applying to amend a certificate. This form is called "APPLICATION FOR CORRECTING OR COMPLETING A CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH, MARRIAGE OR DEATH, (FORM VSCr)". Most applications are made on this form. The application must be completed in triplicate and be signed by the person who is applying to amend the record. The signature must be notarized. For minor changes made within six months of occurrence, a different form is used (VSX). The town clerk will select the proper form for the particular request.
In addition to completing the form VSCr and having it notarized, the applicant must submit, at the same time, suitable documentary evidence to substantiate their statements. TWO PIECES of documentary evidence, dated as close to the date of occurrence as possible, are necessary to correct errors of any item on the certificate. One of the documents may be an affidavit of personal knowledge properly notarized.
A variety of documents may be submitted to prove the facts, with some documents more valuable in this respect than others. Always bear in mind that the evidence presented should refer as closely as possible to the time of the event in question, whether birth, marriage or death.
Such documents may include but are not limited to:
|Baptismal Records||Hospital Records|
|Early School Records||Census Records|
|Income Tax Records||And Other Vital Records|
|Employment Records||Voting Registration Lists|
|Application for Insurance Policies||Copies from Family Bible Records|
|Military Records||Newspaper clippings and other similar records can be used as documentation|
Newspaper clippings and other similar records can be used as documentation
Affidavits of personal knowledge can also be useful but they are in a less valuable category than the documentary evidence cited above.
When properly prepared, an affidavit should only be made by a person who has a first-hand knowledge of the facts in question and this should be clearly stated. It should indicate the basis on which the statement is being made, including relationship to the applicant, relative age and any other pertinent information that will help to strengthen the value of the statement. The affidavit is a supporting document not in the same category as an official record. Affidavits should always be notarized.
Photographic copies or written statements of the information appearing on documentary evidence can be accepted in lieu of the original records if they are certified by the person who has the original record in his possession.
Documents used as evidence will be returned to the applicant after the certificate is amended.
Correction of Errors in Names and Adding Names
Sometimes a problem arises because the name which appears on the person's certificate is not the name by which he/she is commonly known. In this case it is necessary to determine whether the difference is due to an error on the certificate or whether the person's name has changed by usage.
If the names which appear on the certificate were in error, the name or names may be corrected by applying and presenting two early pieces of documentary evidence which show the individual's correct name or names.
If there is no proof that there was an error made at the time of recording, it will then be necessary to have the name legally changed by court order. Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order changing the name of a person born in N.H. and upon request of such person, the city/town clerk shall amend the certificate of birth to show the new name. "A.K.A." shall be noted and the new name added as indicated. The original name is NOT removed from the record. Both names shall appear on the face of the amended record.
Some older birth certificates do not show the given name of the registrant. A certified copy of such a certificate can not be issued until the name is added. This can be accomplished regardless of the time element by having the applicant complete and sign a form VSX which does not require documentary proof.
A missing surname can be added to a birth certificate in the same way if the surname of the father as shown on the birth certificate is the same as the surname being added.
Minutes of past meetings of the Vital Records Improvement Fund Advisory Committee (covering the period from 2000 to present).
Reports and Publications in this library pertain to documents specific to the Division of Vital Records Administration.
Fact Sheets and Forms
|Confidential Report of City and Town Clerk Relative to an Adoption||VS-37 Confidential Report of City and Town Clerk Relative to an Adoption - The VS-37 form is used by adoptive parents and attorneys in the New Hampshire adoption process. The information provided on this form enables the Division of Vital Records Administration to create the post-adoption birth record. The completed form is certified by the court and forwarded to the division.|
|NH City and Town Clerks Contact Information||NH City and Town Clerk List|
|Marriage Information||Role of a Marriage Officiant in New Hampshire
Marriage in New Hampshire
|Amending Vital Records||Amending and Correcting Vital Records - Division of Vital Records Administration - Guidelines to amend, correct or update vital records.|
NH Vital Records Information Network (NHVRINweb)
Pre-adoption Birth Records
What is RSA 5-C:9 and how does it affect access to original birth information?
On May 12, 2004 the New Hampshire state legislature approved legislation with an effective date of January 1, 2005 granting New Hampshire born adult (18 years old and older) adoptees the right to request and obtain a non-certified copy of their pre-adoption birth information. Formerly, adoptees were required to obtain a court order granting them access to any health history of biological parents with all identifying information removed from the record.
RSA 5-C:9 provides birth parents the opportunity to place on file a contact preference form and/or health history questionnaire. If one has been placed on file with the division, the contact preference form or health history will be provided to the adoptee at the time their request for a pre-adoption record is fulfilled.
The contact reference form allows a birth parent to share their preference as to whether or not they wish to be contacted, whether they prefer the contact to be in person, through an intermediary or not at all. It is especially important for birth parent(s) to consider filing a health history questionnaire if they request no contact.
Who is eligible to order a pre-adoption record?
Adoptees (18 or older) that have reached the age of 18, their legal representative, or the adoptee's immediate legal family. The legal immediate family would include the adult adoptee's spouse, adoptive parents, siblings and the adoptee's children. Legal representative is further defined by the statute to include an attorney, physician, funeral director, or other authorized agent acting on behalf of the applicant or their family.
There must have been a certified record filed by a court of competent jurisdiction that sealed the original record and required the creation of a new one.
How do applicants order a pre-adoption record?
Pre-adoption (non-certified) records must be obtained directly from the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration. Unlike certified copies of current birth records, they are not available in local city or town clerk's offices. The adoptee may apply for a non-certified copy of their pre-adoption record through the mail or if in the Concord area, may visit our office and obtain their copy the same day - in most cases. Occasionally, additional research is required to produce an older record. Please allow four to six weeks for pre-adoption records from the 1930s back.
If mailed, the application packet must contain:
Completed and signed application. The application will need to contain full legal name of registrants) after adoption, date(s) of birth, place(s) of birth, both adoptive parent's legal names and adoptive mother's maiden surname. You will find our application here. It can be filled out online, printed, signed and mailed in with payment (in U.S. funds ONLY), return envelope and identification. That application is strictly for non-certified records. If you are also hoping to obtain a certified copy of your current, legal birth record you would use this application.
A $15 check or money order to perform a search for the record you seek. The $15 payment must be in U.S. funds ONLY. The check or money order should be made payable to "Treasurer, State of New Hampshire". If you wish to obtain more than one copy of the record at the same time, each additional copy will be $10 (in U.S. funds ONLY).
Positive photo identification is required in New Hampshire. You may submit a legible photocopy of your driver's license, passport or other government issued photo ID. To ensure that the photocopy of your identification is legible, please lighten and enlarge the image 200% when copying. If the identification is not legible your application will be rejected and returned to you.
A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included and the address on your identification must match the address you provide on your application and return envelope. A notarized letter is required to provide authorization for the division to mail your confidential document to an address other than the one listed on your identification.
If any of the required items are missing from your application packet, it will be returned with a document outlining the reason for rejection. Anyone hoping to act as representative of a registrant and attempting to obtain a vital record will be required to provide a notarized document authorizing them to do so. Attorneys may submit a document on official firm letterhead that describes who they purport to represent, their direct and tangible interest in the record in question, and provides information on current record.
How quickly will I receive my record?
In most cases we will process your request within ten business days. Occasionally, older records will need further research before we can produce an accurate non-certified copy of the original birth information. If we encounter any difficulty researching a record we will contact the requestor to advise them of the delay.
What will I receive?
When a request is processed and the original record located, we copy that information onto a form that states that it is not a certified copy of a "birth certificate." It is information found on your original birth record and was released to you by the State Registrar of the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration. The pre-adoption "record" will not be acceptable to government agencies as a legal birth certificate or for purposes of identification. When you receive your pre-adoption information you will also receive a contact preference and/or health history questionnaire if one was placed on file by a biological parent after this legislation went into effect.
The information on your pre-adoption document was provided by your birth parent(s) when you were born. The information may or may not be accurate. In New Hampshire, a parent may give a child any name they wish or they may not name the child. The mother's name, as well as the father's (if listed) name may or may not be accurate. Once your adoption was finalized your birth parent(s) no longer had access to the birth record to make any changes.
If after performing a thorough search, we do not locate evidence of a pre-adoption record we will forward a "No Record" statement to you explaining the result. That statement will advise you that if you feel this result was reached incorrectly, you should contact our office and provide any additional information you feel might aid in our research. If after an additional search is undertaken, a pre-adoption record is located, you may exchange the no record statement you received for the newly discovered document.
Do adoptees have access to any other vital records?
The legislation granting adult adoptees access to their original birth information was very clear that this was the only information available to adoptees. Any knowledge gained by having access to their original birth information does not translate into eligibility to obtain the vital records of biological family members. The adoption severed any legal familial bonds and therefore ended eligibility as an immediate family member to anyone other than immediate legal (adoptive) family members.
If birth parents placed a contact preference form or health history questionnaire on file with the division, the adult adoptee has access to them. They will automatically be included in the return envelope if there are any on file when the adoptee requests his or her pre-adoption record.
How can I get help locating my birth parents or biological family members?
The adoption agency that assisted in the adoption may have additional information they are able to share with the adoptee. In many cases there is health information or contact information for biological relatives seeking to locate adoptees with the agency. The Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Unit maintains files on children it assisted and will work with adoptees to share information or provide other assistance.
If the unit, also formerly known as DCYF or the New Hampshire Division of Welfare had anything to do with your adoption, they could possibly have additional information about your adoption on file. They can be reached at (603) 271-4702 or toll-free in New Hampshire (800) 852-3345 ext. 4702. They will assist you in your search, make first contact for you and act as an intermediary to ease the tension or fear of family members. If you are aware of a specific adoption agency being involved in your adoption, you should contact them directly.
How can birth parents share their preference regarding contact with the adoptee?
Birth parents have been given the opportunity to place on file with the division, a Contact Preference Form or Health History Questionnaire. Both forms are available on the division website or can be picked up at the Division of Vital Records Administration's office at 9 Ratification Way (formerly 71 South Fruit Street) in Concord, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Once either or both of the forms is completed they can be dropped off, mailed or even emailed to the division to be placed with the adoptee's original birth information.
|Mail forms to:||
Email forms to:
|Division of Vital Records Administration
9 Ratification Way
Concord, NH 03301-2410
The Contact Preference Form allows the birth parent to state clearly their feelings about contact with the adoptee. They can ask for no contact at all, contact through an intermediary or provide their contact information for the adoptee to contact them as soon as they would like. The form is merely an expression of the birth parent's wishes, it is not a legal document preventing the adoptee from looking for or contacting a birth parent.
The Health History Questionnaire is particularly important for a birth parent that wishes to have no contact to fill out. Many adoptees encounter medical issues in adulthood and it becomes important for them to determine and share with their physician if the issue could be hereditary or if a history of problems exist in their biological family.
Track the Numbers
To see the type of impact the legislation would have on the division, we have tracked the number of requests for pre-adoption records and submissions of Contact Preference and Updated Health Questionnaire since day one. As you can see, there was a great deal of interest in the first year or two and then interest dropped off to almost non-existent. Unfortunately, there was never a surge in birth parents hoping to place contact preference or health questionnaires on file. Below you will find an annual spreadsheet outlining the numbers.
2015 PreAdoption Stats (31kb)
2014 PreAdoption Stats (31kb)
2013 PreAdoption Stats (30kb)
2012 PreAdoption Stats (53kb)
2011 PreAdoption Stats (12kb)
2010 PreAdoption Stats (12kb)
2009 PreAdoption Stats (52kb)
2008 PreAdoption Stats (11kb)
2007 PreAdoption Stats (11kb)
2006 PreAdoption Stats (11kb)
2005 PreAdoption Stats (11kb)
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