Vital records, as their name suggests, are connected with central life events: birth, marriage, and death. Maintained by civil authorities, they are prime sources of genealogical information; but, unfortunately, official vital records are available only for relatively recent periods. These records, despite their recent creation in the United States, are critically important in genealogical research, often supplying details on family members well back into the nineteenth century.  The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, by Loretto Szucs and Sandra Luebking.
When did the state start collecting vital records?
The state vital records office maintains birth and death records filed from 1919 to the present. Marriage applications and licenses from 1952-1996 are also on file. No divorce records are on file at the state office, however, an index of divorce events from 1952 to the present is available. Some counties may have older birth, death, marriage, or divorce records in their files, but county files only contain records of vital events that occurred in that county.
How do I request a vital record?
- Request a birth certificate
- Request a death certificate
- Request a certified copy of a marriage application and license
- Request confirmation of a divorce
- Beyond Vital Records
- Vital Information Without Vital Registration
Where can I find other historical information?
For other historical information you may want to contact the Georgia Division of Archives and History. The Archives maintains a large public collection of historical records plus a library of genealogical histories.
Where are vital records offices located?
There are 159 counties in Georgia. Each county has a vital records registrar and vital records custodian appointed by the state registrar. Depending upon the county, the vital records registrar or custodian may be located at the county health department or in the office of the probate judge. Call the state vital records office at (404) 679-4701 if you need the mail address or telephone number of a specific county vital records office.
The state vital records office is organized into the Registration, Data Entry, Photo Reproduction, Search, Customer Service, Legal, Quality Assurance Units and Administrative Staff. Two vital records field coordinators provide assistance and education services to county, hospital and funeral home staff about the completion and registration of vital records. The field staff are also responsible for the installation of electronic vital event registration software in hospitals and health facilities across the state.
If you are coming in person to the main Vital Records Office in Atlanta, directions are available.
How are vital records processed?
Vital records are completed in the county where the event occurred and require the skills and cooperation of many people and various professions. NOTE: only Georgia vital records are filed in this state.
The majority of birth records are completed by hospital staff. Out of institution (or home) births are initiated with the county vital records registrar where the birth occurred, but DHR Regulation 290-1-3-.05 must be explicitly followed to register an out of institution birth. Death certificates are completed by funeral directors and certifying physicians, except in the case of coroner investigations where the coroner certifies the manner of death. Fetal death (spontaneous abortion or stillbirth) certificates are completed by hospital staff and certifying physicians. Induced termination of pregnancy reports are completed by clinic staff. Marriage applications and licenses are completed by probate judges and marriage officials. Reports of divorce are completed by the Clerks of the Superior Courts. Original records except marriage and divorce reports, are filed at the state office of vital records.
Services and activities of the vital records office
Several services and activities are offered by vital records state and county office staff to the public and other agencies. The primary vital records services are listed below. Call (404) 679-4701 if you have questions about the services offered or the fees charged. You may call the same number if you need the telephone number or address of a vital records office located in another state or for more information see the CDC’s information page for other states’ vital records offices.
Each of the 159 county vital records offices is authorized to prepare certified copies of birth and death certificates for vital events that occurred in their specific county. However, not all of these locations initiate filing delayed certificates of birth or begin the process to amend a vital record.