Massachusetts State Law: "Chapter 46: Return and registry of births, marriages and deaths" mandates that restricted birth records are NOT public records and are NOT available for review, inspection, transcribing, or for purchasing certified copies by the general public.
What causes a birth record to be restricted?
If birth parents were not married at the time of birth, or, if an adoption took place and the name changed, the original birth record is restricted. Some agencies or city clerks also refer to these as impounded birth records.
These records are restricted to the individual named on the record, the birth parent(s) named on the record or a legal guardian.
Certificates can still be obtained directly by the subject named, or the birth parent named on the record, or legal guardian, but this record type is not open to the public.
How do I get a copy of my restricted Massachusetts birth certificate?
Well, it depends.
It's not difficult. It just depends on why you need the record and, where you currently live, as some states and agencies will only accept state certified copies and not city or town copies.
If you need the certificate for any official purpose, such as obtaining a passport, processing "REAL ID" applications, updating a driver's license, applying for dual citizenship or for social security benefits, you need a state certified birth certificate.
State certified copies of restricted records can be obtained from the
State Registrar of Vital Statistics in Boston.
A photo ID, as well as documentation as to the relationship to the subject, if not the subject applying, is needed for the application.
A state certified copy is the most official copy one can obtain.
What if I don't need a state certified copy for an official purpose?
If you only need a certified copy for your own records, say for general information or for a family history project, a city or town birth certificate should fill the need perfectly.
City or town certified birth certificates are obtained by contacting the town or city clerk's office in Massachusetts in the town or city where you were born.
Some of the larger cities, such as Worcester and Boston, have online birth order forms on their websites, but many of the smaller towns, such as Granby, still only accept mail in or walk in applications.
The biggest plus of city/town certificates - they are generally less expensive than state certified copies. The biggest minus - they can take longer to obtain and are obviously less offical appearing than state copies.
Most importantly, they are not acceptable by some state agencies or for applying for drivers license and passports, especially if you live in Colorado or California or if you live outside of the country.
Pluses for Enhanced Security of State Certified Birth Records
- 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
Recorded Information Highlighted on State Certified Birth Records
Note: All data related to father's information is usually missing on restricted birth certifcates.
- First, middle (sometimes, just an initial) and last name of child
- Place of birth including address, hospital (depending on time frame - hospital name not always recorded) and town or city
- Month, day and year of birth
- Time of birth - began in early 1950's but not always recorded by staff
- Name, age and address of father and depending on era of recording, his exact date of birth
- Name, age and address of mother and depending on era of recording, her exact date of birth
- Birthplace of father (city, town, state, country; sometimes just state or country)
- Birthplace of 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 mother (again, not always filled in and no longer recorded)