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How to Find a Birth Record in Wisconsin?

What Are Birth Records in Wisconsin?

A Wisconsin birth record is a vital record that proves that an individual's birth occurred in Wisconsin. It is an important document that proves identity, age, Wisconsin citizenship, and American citizenship. A certified birth record is required to:

  • Apply for a United States passport, social security card, and driver's license
  • Enroll in school or military
  • Request government benefits

A Wisconsin certified birth record is printed on security paper and has a raised seal and the signature of the State Registrar. An uncertified copy of a birth record contains the same information as a certified copy; however, it is printed on plain white paper and includes a stamp indicating that it is recognized as legal or acceptable for identification uses.

Wisconsin issues both short form and long form birth certificates. Short form birth certificates are the more commonly issued ones. A short form is acceptable for most legal uses and identification purposes. It contains information such as:

  • Child's name
  • Sex
  • Birthdate
  • Place of birth
  • Parents' names
  • Parents' ages
  • Parents' birthplaces

The long form birth certificate holds all the information contained in the short form birth certificate. It also includes additional information such as:

  • Birth facility
  • Mother's residence
  • Time of birth
  • Birth weight
  • Crown-heel length

How to Find and Request Birth Records Online in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin birth records are restricted from public access. Hence, members of the public cannot look up records of birth online. However, the Wisconsin Historical Society provides an online index of Births Recorded in Wisconsin prior to October 1907. Birth records filed before October 1907 in Wisconsin are commonly referred to as genealogy records. Through the State of Wisconsin’s partnership with an independent company, eligible persons can obtain birth records online by paying appropriate fees and submitting acceptable identification.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Get Birth Records in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin birth records can be obtained by mail or in person. However, requests must be supported with acceptable forms of identification, otherwise, requests will be returned unprocessed. Expired documents are not accepted and original documents are required to apply in person. A requester must provide one of the following:

  • A state-issued driver's license or ID card
  • A United States government-issued photo ID
  • The United States or foreign passport
  • A Tribal or Military ID card

or two of the following:

  • Bank or earning statement
  • Current, dated, signed lease
  • Health insurance card
  • Utility bill or traffic ticket
  • Vehicle registration or title

If a person named on a record cannot provide acceptable identification, the individual can provide a written authorization for someone else to apply on their behalf. The authorization must be signed by the person named on the record and must be submitted along with the application. The application must also include the representative's identification. The Wisconsin Vital Records Office also allows requesters to obtain birth records for foreign-born children in the state.

Anyone who requires an apostille on a certified birth record can obtain it through the Wisconsin Office of Vital Records. An apostille is a specific format of an authentication certificate for a vital record that may be required by other countries. In Wisconsin, an apostille is issued by the Wisconsin Secretary of State. It is important to specify which foreign country is involved while applying for an apostille. This is necessary so that the Office of the Secretary of State can determine if an apostille or regular authentication is required. The use of a wrong certificate can cause a document to be rejected by the destination country.

To obtain a certified birth record with an apostille:

  • Complete an application for a copy of a birth record from the State Vital Records Office
  • Complete an application for an apostille from the Wisconsin Secretary of State's Office.
  • Submit the birth record application form, identification, and fee; and the Secretary of State's order form, fee, and prepaid envelope to the Wisconsin Vital Records Office for processing. At the completion of the process, the Office of the Secretary of State will return a certified birth record with an apostille directly to the requester in the provided envelope.

The Vital Records Office requires at least the name of the subject of the record and a time period to search if all the information on a birth record application cannot be provided. Requests for records of persons with common last names such as John, Smith, or James, must include additional identifying information, such as the birthplace of the subject of the record or the parents' names.

Wisconsin allows requesters to submit multiple requests for birth certificates in the same envelope. A requester can include one self-addressed stamped envelope for multiple requests if all the requests are being mailed back to the same address.

The Wisconsin Office of Vital Records allows in-person searching of genealogy records. However, the search can only be conducted by appointment. Contact the genealogy reception's office at (608) 267-7820 or use the office's online schedule tool to book an appointment online. Available appointment times are between 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The individual searching is required to provide the searcher's name and current address. Acceptable forms of identification are listed on the genealogy page of the Wisconsin Department of Health website. A copy of a birth record found while performing an in-person search can be obtained by completing an application for the record and providing an acceptable ID.

How to Get Wisconsin Birth Records in Person?

To obtain Wisconsin birth records in person, visit:

Wisconsin Vital Records Office
1 West Wilson Street, Room 160
Madison, WI 53703

The Vital Records Office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. The requester must present acceptable identification and pay the appropriate in-person order fee. Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Office of Vital Records is currently closed to the public for all in-person services until further notice.

How to Get Wisconsin Birth Records by Mail?

To obtain a birth record by Mail in Wisconsin, complete the Birth Certificate Application form. Enclose the completed form along with the appropriate fee and required identification in a mail to:

Wisconsin Vital Records Office
P.O. Box 309
Madison, WI 53701

Where Can I Find Birth Records in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin birth records from October 1907 to the present are maintained by the Wisconsin Vital Records Office. The Vital Records Office is a division of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Statewide birth records are also available through the Wisconsin county Register of Deeds and at the Milwaukee Health Department and the West Allis City Health Office.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, only the persons named on birth records and other eligible individuals who can provide documents in support of their relationship with the persons named on the records can obtain certified birth records. Other eligible individuals include:

  • Parents or legal guardians of the persons named on the birth records
  • Spouses of the persons named on the birth records
  • Grandparents of the persons named on the records
  • Adult children and grandchildren of the person named on the record
  • A legal representative of the person named on the birth record
  • Any individual who has obtained an order from a competent court of law to access a birth record

Per section 69.24(1) of Wisconsin Statutes, any person who willfully and knowingly makes a false application for a birth certificate would be considered guilty of a Class I felony. Such a person is liable to pay a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than three years and six months, or both.

How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in Wisconsin?

A birth record costs $20 for the first copy and $3 for each additional copy of the same record. Payment for a record obtained by mail can be made by check, or money order made payable to the State of Wisconsin Vital Records. Personal checks are required to be preprinted with the account holder's name, account number, routing number, and check number. Shipping of orders is typically by USPS Regular Mail.

Payment for in-person orders can be made by cash as well as check and money order. The Vital Records Office accepts MasterCard, Visa, and Discover credit cards for payment.

Other than the basic record cost, an additional processing fee is charged for placing birth record orders through Wisconsin's third-party vendor. Shipping methods for online orders include USPS Regular Mail, UPS Next Day Air, and UPS Worldwide. Major credit and debit cards can be used to make payments for online orders.

Wisconsin charges only $20 for any five-year period search between October 1, 1907, through 1947. This period is treated as a single-year index. Any birth record search from the earliest filed records through September 1907 or 1948 to the present is also considered a single period search requiring a $20 search fee. Both periods are treated as multiyear indexes. A requester can request that an additional five-year period of single-year indexes or an additional multiyear-index is searched for $20. For instance, the Vital Records Office will charge $60 to search for a birth certificate from 1910 through 1924 (15 years of single-year indexes)

Wisconsin does not charge an additional fee for requesting long form birth certificates.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Birth Certificate in Wisconsin?

Processing time for online orders takes approximately one to three business days after receipt. Mail orders take about 5-10 days to complete, while same-day services are provided for in-person requesters for requests received between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. In-person requests received after 3:30 p.m. are processed the next business days.

How to Expunge Your Birth Records in Wisconsin?

An expungement describes permanently deleting a record and scrubbing it from all documentations. It is not possible to expunge a birth record in Wisconsin. The state does not allow deleting any detail contained in a birth certificate.

How to Seal Your Birth Records in Wisconsin?

Sealing a birth record is an automatic process in Wisconsin. When someone born in Wisconsin is adopted, the Vital Records Office of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services "impounds" or seals that individual's original birth certificate. A new birth certificate is issued, showing the adoptive parents and the adoptee's new name, if it changed due to adoption. The Vital Records Office does not release the impounded birth certificate to anyone, including the person listed on the certificate, unless by a court order.

How to Unseal Your Birth Records in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin adoption record search law is contained in Sections 48.432 and 48.433 of the state's statutes. The laws are administered by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) and specify the conditions and protections under which a search for a record can be conducted. Birth parents are allowed to file a notarized statement or affidavit consenting to the release of their identities in the pre-adoption birth records or to refuse to allow the release of their identities. Wisconsin also permits adult adoptees to file a consent allowing for their contact information to be released to birth parents who request it.

An adult adoptee must be age 18 or older before an original birth certificate can be unsealed in Wisconsin. An original birth record can only be released in accordance with a court order from the county where the adoption took place. Prior to obtaining a court order, a requester must complete a search request through the State Adoption Records Search Program. The Program is available to:

  • Adult adoptees
  • Offspring of adult adoptees
  • Adoptees whose birth parent(s) terminated parental rights when they were minors
  • Adoptive parents
  • Birth parents

To obtain a pre-adoption or impounded birth certificate, request an application packet from the Wisconsin Adoption Record Search Program by electronic mail at dcfadoptionsearch@wisconsin.gov or call at (608) 422-6928. The Adoption Search Application form is available on the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website. Complete and return the signed and notarized application with the $40 application fee and the appropriate attachments by mail or fax to:

Adoption Records Search Program
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53703-8916
Fax: (608) 422-7170