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The original item was published from 11/30/2020 2:06:59 PM to 1/1/2021 6:05:05 PM.

News Flash

Health & Human Services

Posted on: November 30, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Press Release: Changes to purchasing Birth and Death Certificates January 1, 2021

Important changes regarding how the public accesses birth and death certificates, become effective January 1, 2021.

The Vital Records Modernization Act, passed and signed into law in 2019, changes the types of records available to the public and who can access these records. It also increases the fee for vital records.

Some of the changes include:

  • Limiting the release of certified copies (or certificates) of birth, death, and fetal death records to a qualified applicant, who is either the subject of the record or has a qualifying relationship with the person whose record they are requesting.
  • Requiring all qualified applicants to provide identification and proof of eligibility documentation.
  • Creating a short form death certificate that does not contain the cause or manner of death, thereby protecting sensitive medical information.
  • Allowing the release of non-certified, informational copies of birth records and short form death records to the public.
  • Increasing the certificate fee to $25. The non-certified informational copy fee will also be $25. The last time the fee for vital records was increased was in 2007.
  • Waiving the birth certificate fee for people born in Washington State who are experiencing homelessness.
  • Adding a non-binary “X” sex designation option to vital records.

In order to fulfill orders and implement the changes in accordance with the new law, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services will not be able to receive or process orders for certificates between December 19, 2020 and January 1, 2021.

All orders must be received by our office no later than close of business December 18, 2020. Orders submitted after December 18, 2020 will be returned and the requestor will be asked to resubmit the order after January 1, 2021.

For more information, visit the State Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions page.


To contact the Health & Human Services Departments, please call 360-414-5599.


Jamie Hopps


Release #: 20-070

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