Are Montana Vital Records Public?
Vital records in Montana are open to the public. However, access to a record primarily depends on the record type, the year the event occurred, and the requester's statutory right. Typically, informational copies of a record may be made available to interested members of the public. The Montana Vital Statistics Code only grants eligible persons access to certified copies, including the registrant, immediate family members, and persons with legal authorization or permission to access the record.
What are Montana Vital Records?
Montana vital records include documents pertaining to the death, birth, marriage, and divorce of state residents. They are created to provide an official account of vital events, and are useful for identification, research, policy implementation, genealogy, and legal/conflict-resolution purposes.
How Do I Search for Montana Vital Records Online?
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) provides an online record request service through which interested and eligible persons may order vital records. To request a vital record online, the requestor must provide all information required to process the record search, including:
- The full name(s) of the subject(s) of the record (including any maiden names)
- The place and approximate date of the event
- The license number, court docket number, or case file number of the record (if applicable)
- The full name of the subject's parents and/or legal guardian (if applicable)
- The names of the legal representative(s) involved and/or their state bar identity number
Publicly available vital records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a convenient jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. To find a record using the search engines on third party sites, the requesting party will be required to provide:
- The location of the record in question, including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
- The name of someone involved providing it is not a juvenile.
How Do I Obtain Montana Vital Records?
In addition to providing information to facilitate the record search, requestors may also be required to present supporting documents relevant to the record retrieval process. Typically, access to informational copies does not require any documentation. However, requests for certified copies often require the requestor to undergo a verification process in which they provide:
- A government-issued ID
- Proof of relationship documents
- A court order authorizing access to the record (if applicable).
What's the Difference Between a Certified Record and Informational Copy?
An informational copy is a duplicate of a record often issued for unofficial and non-legal purposes. It provides details regarding a vital event and is typically used for genealogical and research-related functions. On the other hand, certified records are official documents with the legal authority to establish the bearer's identity. They serve a wider range of functions and may be used for applications and business endeavors. These records are primarily distinguished by the raised seal typically featured on the certified record.
Are Montana Marriage Records Public Information?
Yes. Montana marriage records become public information after 30 years. Interested persons may obtain informational copies of these records. However, selected, sensitive information is often excluded from public marriage records. Also, access to certified marriage records is restricted to the persons named on the record and immediate family members. Record seekers who want to know how to find marriage records in Montana should contact the Montana Office of Vital Records.
How Do I Obtain Marriage Records in Montana?
Certified marriage records are available at the clerk's office in the county where the marriage license was issued. Marriage license lookup can be done by submitting a written request, email, or in person. For instance, copies of marriage licenses can be gotten by email at GallatinCountyRecordsRequests@mt.gov or by sending a written request to the Gallatin County Clerk of District Court's office at:
Law and Justice Center
615 S. 16th Ave., Room 302
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 582-2165
Fax: (406) 582-2176
The Montana DPHHS has maintained an index of marriage records containing marriage-related information since July 1943. This index of marriage records is available to interested members of the public. Persons requesting the index of marriage records must prepare a written request describing the record in detail. The requester must also attach a valid photo ID, and payment for the search fee per name queried. Enclose the application in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to:
Office of Vital Statistics
111 North Sanders, Room 6
P.O. Box 4210
Helena, MT 59604
Phone: (406) 444-4226
Fax: (406) 444-1803
Individuals seeking to know how to find marriage records should contact the Office of Vital Statistics or the Clerk's office in the county where the marriage occurred. Also, inquiries can be made about free marriage licenses record search in Montana.
How to Get a Montana Marriage Certificate
The Montana Office of Vital Records does not issue certified copies of marriage certificates. As such, record seekers can get marriage certificates from the Clerk of Court in the county where the marriage occurred.
The Montana Vital Statistics Office offers the option of searching their indexes to retrieve marriage information like the couple's name, location of marriage certificate, and marriage date. A completed Application For Search Of Marriage & Divorce Indexes form must be submitted to the Office to conduct this search. A marriage certificate search for the first 5 years costs $10, and each consecutive year costs $1.
Are Montana Divorce Records Public Information?
Yes. Informational copies of Montana divorce records, including dissolution of marriage records are available to interested members of the public. These copies exclude sensitive details on the event as well as property inventories, social security numbers, and details of any financial settlements. Access to restricted information is excluded to persons with a proven, tangible interest in the record.
How Do I Obtain Divorce Records in Montana?
Montana divorce records and dissolution of marriage records are primarily managed and disseminated by the district court clerk's office in the county where the divorce decree was issued. However, the state DPHHS also maintains an index of divorce decrees going back to July 1943, and divorce information can be obtained by sending a written request to the state office. Requests must detail pertinent information on the divorce, including the names of the parties involved and the place and date the decree was granted. All requests are to be accompanied by a fee of $10 and delivered in person or via mail to the Office of Vital Statistics.
How to Get a Certified Divorce Certificate in Montana
Record seekers cannot get certified copies of divorce certificates from the Montana Vital Records Office. Rather, they would have to make requests at the Clerk of Court in the county where the divorce was filed. For instance, interested persons can get copies of divorce certificates in Ravalli County by submitting written requests that contain complete details of the divorce information and self-addressed stamped envelopes for the return of the divorce certificates to the Clerk of District Court. The court is located at:
Clerk of District Court
205 Bedford Street
Hamilton, MT 59840
Phone: (406) 375-6710
Fax: (406) 375-6721
Alternatively, requesters can search for dissolution marriage records by mailing an Application For Search Of Marriage & Divorce Indexes form to the Montana Vital Statistics Office. A divorce certificate search for the first 5 years costs $10, and each consecutive year costs $1.
Are Montana Birth Records Public Information?
Yes. Informational copies of Montana birth records are open to the public if the birth is more than thirty years old. Per MCA 50-15-121 and ARM 37-8-126, only the following persons can access certified birth records, including replacement birth certificates in Montana:
- The registrant (must be at least 14 years old at the time of the request)
- The registrant's parents or legal guardians
- Other immediate family members, including the spouse, children, and grandparents
- Legal representatives
- Persons authorized by court order
However, public birth records are obtainable and accessible to any record seeker in Montana.
How Do I Obtain Montana Birth Records?
To order birth certificates replacements or public birth records in Montana, interested persons may contact the clerk and recorder's office in the county where the birth happened. The Vital Records Office also maintains a statewide registry of births in Montana. Interested persons must complete a birth record application form, notarize, and attach a photo ID to the form. Next, the requester must attach a check or money order with the application forms and enclose the application packet in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to:
Office of Vital Records
Department of Public Health and Human Services
111 N Sanders Rm 6
P.O. Box 4210
Helena MT 59604
Phone: (406) 444-2685
Anyone may also obtain public birth records from third party sites which manage and disseminate vital records.
Is a Birth Certificate Public Record in Montana?
Per 37.8.126 of the Administrative Rules of Montana, non-certified copies of birth certificates are public records. In contrast, certified copies of birth certificates less than 30 years old are confidential. As such, they can only be obtained by authorized individuals, which includes the registrant, spouse, children, parents, grandparents, legal representatives, and persons authorized by court order. When the 30 years of birth elapse, certified birth certificates become public records. An individual seeking an original birth certificate or replacement birth certificate can apply online, by phone, by mail, or in person at the Montana Vital Records Office. Public birth records may also be retrieved from the Clerk & Recorder of the county where the birth occurred.
Are Montana Death Records Open to the Public?
Yes. Informational copies of death records in Montana are open to the public. However, the applicant must fulfill ID requirements and pay the application fees. Only the deceased's family and persons with the required legal authority may obtain certified death records.
How Do I Obtain Death Records in Montana?
The State Vital Records Office processes requests for public death records search by name in Montana. Generally, the applicant must complete a death record application form, attach a valid ID, and payment in the form of a check or money order. Next, the requester must enclose the request in a self-addressed, stamped envelope and mail it to the Office of Vital Records.
Death records are also available at the clerk's office in the county where the death happened. Interested persons must visit the clerk's office in person during business hours and submit an application. Similar ID and payment requirements apply.
Is a Death Certificate Public Record in Montana?
Per 50-15-122 of the Administrative Rules of Montana, death certificates are public records. Hence, anyone can inspect or obtain copies of death certificates online, by phone, mail, or in person at the State Vital Records Office.
How Do I Obtain Sealed Vital Records in Montana
Sealed vital records in Montana are restricted from public access but may be made available to eligible persons. The requirement for accessing a sealed vital record is primarily dependent on the reason for its restriction. Suppose a record is sealed following the petition of persons named on the record. Then, interested persons may access the record by obtaining a written request from either or both parties.
More often than not, records are sealed by a court, often according to the provisions of the law. Where this is the case, then the record can be accessed if the requestor petitions a Montana-licensed judge for a subpoena. After receiving the subpoena, the requestor may request the record of interest using the appropriate request form and the relevant supporting documents.
What are Vital Statistics in Montana?
Vital statistics are quantitative data gathered and evaluated to create demographic figures about vital events that have occurred. These vital events may include death, birth, divorce, marriages, and fetal deaths. The Office of Vital Statistics (OVS), the State Registrar, and the Vital Statistics Analysis unit (VSAU) work together to gather and analyze information on vital events in Montana. Record seekers can obtain vital statistics from the Montana Bureau of Vital Statistics. To find vital statistics call (406) 444-1756.