Changes to the Vital Records Law

New Rules for Vital Records (effective July 1, 2019)

The new rules for Vital Records established by Act 46 intend to bring Vermont in line with best practices to enhance the safety and security of vital records and provide greater protection against identity theft. They will also streamline processes for greater efficiency by clarifying who is responsible for records and how records are to be created, stored, copied and shared. The new rules were developed from recommendations by the Vital Records Study Committee and testimony from a wide variety of stakeholders, including town clerks and members of the public. The new changes go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Overview for Town Clerks

This section provides preliminary information to help town clerks understand and ensure compliance with the new rules and systems required by Act 46. More details about processes and definitions will be available before July 1, 2019 and trainings will be offered to support town clerks.

Electronic Statewide Vital Records System
  • The statewide system will be used to create, store, issue and track birth and death certificates from January 1, 1909 to present.
  • Certified and noncertified copies from January 1, 1909 forward will be issued from the statewide system.
  • Certified and noncertified copies of records from before January 1, 1909 will not be issued from the statewide system.
  • Requests will be tracked with the statewide system.
  • Town clerks will have access to a searchable database maintained by the Vital Records Office.
Restricted Access to Certified Copies of Birth and Death Certificates
  • Certified copies of certificates can only be issued to family members, legal guardians and certain court-related parties and legal representatives.
  • Applicants must complete an application and show acceptable identification. A list of forms of accepted identification are being finalized and will be shared before July.
  • Applicants do not need to prove their relationship to the person on the certificate.
  • Applicants who are not eligible to receive a certified certificate (e.g. people who are not family or who provide unacceptable identification) will be referred to the Vital Records Office.
Security Paper Usage and Inventory
  • Security paper will be used for certified copies of certificates before and after January 1, 1909.
  • The statewide system’s inventory function will be used to track security paper and report damaged or destroyed sheets.
Health Department Responsibilities

The Health Department is responsible for:

  • establishing rules and requirements
  • updating certificates
  • storing certificates and restricting access to paper versions in vaults
  • educating the public about the changes
Vital Records Office Responsibilities

The Vital Records Office is responsible for:

  • setting up and training town officials to use the statewide system
  • providing new electronic forms and certificates
  • maintaining a fraud alert system
  • reviewing appeals and complaints of denial for certified copies
  • processing all corrections and amendments to birth and death certificates
  • maintaining a searchable index for the public
  • managing the security paper inventory system
Town Clerk Responsibilities

Town Clerks are responsible for:

  • receiving applications from applicants
  • entering the application information into the statewide system
  • checking applicant identification
  • referring ineligible applicants to the Vital Records Office
  • protecting security paper and town seal according to the rules
  • reporting damaged or destroyed security paper in the statewide system
Town Participation & Opting Out

Towns may opt out of the statewide system by notifying the Vital Records Office in writing. Towns that opt out:

  • will not be able to issue certificates from January 1, 1909 to present
  • will be able to issue marriage licenses and certified copies of marriage certificates
Benefits of Participation for Towns

By participating in the statewide system, towns will be able to:

  • continue to keep the certified copy fee
  • reduced administrative burden by no longer receiving paper certificates from hospitals or addressing errors, mailing paper copies to towns or Vital Records Office, or correcting and amending certificates
  • access certified copies from any town without being limited to the applicant’s town of residence
  • access a searchable database to find any birth or death certificate from anywhere in Vermont from January 1, 1909 to present
  • receive notification when certificates are updated electronically
  • print a list of records for your town

Looking for more information?

Act 46: Overview and Next Steps presentation

Procedure Flowcarts for Town Clerks (An updated version of this document will be posted shortly.)

Watch the training on Act 46 Implementation for Town Clerks from May 2019.