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Image of older birth records.

Massachusetts State Law: Chapter 46: Return and Registry of Births, Marriages, and Deaths mandates non-restricted birth records are public records and are available for review, inspection, transcribing, or purchasing certified copies.

How Do I Get a MA Birth Certificate?

  • In three words, it's pretty simple.

  • However, it depends on why you need the record and where you live.

  • For example, certain agencies and states, such as Social Security and the State of Colorado, only accept a State-certified copy, not a city or town certificate.

Here are Your Options:

  • Ordering a State-certified birth record is a process that can be initiated at the State Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
  • Your birth certificate can also be ordered through any city clerk's office where you were born. But, this is not a State-certified copy.
  • If you don't know the specific town or city of birth, the State Registry maintains extensive records dating back to 1931.
  • In addition to the statewide index, every Massachusetts town or city maintains a ledger of births for residents who were born in that community.
  • Are you looking for a birth record before 1931? The Massachusetts State Archives at Columbia Point in Boston is your go to resource.

Quickly Order a State-certified Copy of a Massachusetts Birth Certificate (1931 - 2024)

  • All birth certificates are processed and obtained from the Massachusetts State Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston.
  • Your cost is $45 and it's delivered within 10 - 14 business days. Expedited service is available for even faster delivery.

Record Accessibility: Are Massachusetts Birth Records Public Records?

  • Yes, the majority of birth records in Massachusetts are public records.
  • In short, however, the original birth record is restricted if the birth parents were not married at the time of the child's birth.
  • It can also be restricted if an adoption occurs and the name changes.
  • Some agencies or city clerks call these "impounded birth records."
  • Records are restricted to the individual named on the record, the birth parent(s) named on the record, or a legal guardian.
  • Certificates can be obtained by the subject named on the record, the birth parent(s) named, or the legal guardian. Proof of identity is needed.
  • Restricted records are not open to the public.

Read more about getting Massachusetts Restricted Birth Records.

What if I Don't Need a State-certified Copy for an Official Purpose?

  • If you need a copy for your records but still want a certified copy, a city or town birth certificate perfectly fits the need.
  • City or town-certified birth certificates are obtained by contacting the clerk's office in the town or city where the subject was born.
  • Worcester, for example, has an online birth certificate order form, but most smaller towns, such as Medfield, only accept mail-in or walk-in applications.
  • The biggest plus of city or town certificates is that they are generally less expensive than state-certified copies.
  • The biggest minus is that they can take longer to obtain and are less official appearing than state copies.
  • Over the years, I have personally witnessed city clerks hand me an "abstracted birth certificate" and not a copy of the original "certificate", printed on plain, lightweight copy paper, probably purchased from Staples, with no watermarks and say it's the "official record."
  • Most importantly, these city or town records are sometimes not acceptable by some state agencies, such as Social Security Offices, or when applying for driver's licenses and passports.
  • This non-acceptance is especially true if you live in Colorado or California and absolutely if you are living outside the country.

Other Reasons You May Need A State-certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate

You most likely need a State-certified record if you need the certificate for any official purpose, such as obtaining a:

Enhanced Security of State-Certified Birth Records over a City or Town Copy

  • Embossed with Official Raised Massachusetts State Seal
  • Signed by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics
  • Contains the Original Date of Issue
  • Stamped with Current Date of Issue
  • Printed on Secure, Watermarked, Heavyweight Paper
  • Embedded with a Scannable, Digital Bar-Code for Tracking

What if I Want to Get Birth Records for Genealogical Purposes

  • We offer transcribed birth records for genealogical purposes if you don't need a certified copy and want the information for family history.
  • These are not certified, are sent by email as PDFs, and are available at a reasonable fee of $20 each.
  • Here is an example of a Massachusetts birth certificate transcribed for genealogy.
  • Birth certificates are recorded directly from the state collection at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston.
  • All genealogical-related information is recorded, checked, and rechecked for spelling and accuracy.

Quickly Order a Transcribed Copy of a Massachusetts Birth Record from 1931 - 2024

  • ALL birth record transcriptions are performed at the State Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
  • The cost is only $20 and it's delivered as a PDF to your email within 10 - 14 business days.

Genealogical Information Recorded on Birth Records

  • First, middle (sometimes, just an initial), and last name of the child
  • Place of birth, including address, hospital (no longer recorded), and town or city
  • Month, day, and year of birth
  • Time of birth - began in the early 1950's but not always recorded by staff
  • Name, age, and address of father and, depending on the era of recording, his exact date of birth
  • Name, age, and address of mother and, depending on the era of recording, her exact date of birth
  • Birthplace of the father (city, town, state, country; sometimes just state or country)
  • Birthplace of the mother (city, town, state, country; sometimes just state or country)
  • Occupations of father and mother (not always filled in - stopped being recorded in mid-1990's)
  • Number of previous children of the mother (again, not always filled in and no longer recorded)
Author Profile

About the Author

J. James Simonson, a Suffolk University Journalism graduate, has been a key player in genealogy research since the 1990s. Renowned for his work in Massachusetts birth, marriage, and death documents, he has helped piece together complex family histories. Simonson’s talent for revealing hidden family connections and unknown relatives has greatly enriched family trees. His research stretches from local New England records to global historical sources. Actively participating in genealogy conferences, Simonson is dedicated to helping people uncover their ancestral stories, significantly impacting the field.