New Jersey Vital Records: What? How? Where? in 2015

I’ve updated a 2013 JRG post on accessing vital records in New Jersey:

Yes, unfortunately, obtaining vital records can be a challenge in New Jersey if you don’t know where to start your search. On March 3, 1848 New Jersey passed “An ACT relating to the registry and returns of births, marriages, and deaths, in the state of New Jersey” which required town clerks to annually submit a certified copy of births, marriages and deaths that occurred in their jurisdictions. This law created a wonderful set of records, we as genealogists, use to solidify our family branches, twigs and roots.

These annual returns were compiled and created 39 volumes entitled, “Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths” which are bound in alphabetical order by county, then town name for the period of June 1st 1848 through May 31st 1878.

But guess what?  It gets better…

The New Jersey State Legislature further broadened the vital registration law on April 5, 1878 which gave local clerks instructions to create a “certificate” for each vital event — birth, marriage and death. This law went into effect on June 1st 1878.  For genealogists today, accessing this veritable gold mine of records can be frustrating. To help sort out the “What…How…Where”, I’ve compiled a “cheat-sheet” that provides where the record groups are available for fellow researchers.

First, it is important to note… Full plain copies can be made in-person at the NJ State Archives for $0.50/page from the on-site microfilm holdings . Also, all requests processed through the NJ Dept of Health (NJDOH) are either CERTIFIED (can be used for ID purposes) or Vital Registration (VR) CERTIFICATIONS (not for IDs; genealogy requests).

NOTE: For NJDOH requests, please note the genealogy access information section at the bottom.

For In-Person Searches at the NJ State Archives:

  • Birth (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1923
  • Birth (Delayed Filing): for those born pre-1914; affidavit of birth filed mainly in the 1930s-1940s
  • Death (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1955
  • Marriages (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1943
  • Marriages (County Clerk’s Register of Minister Returns): formation of county through mid-1870s

By Mail via the NJ State Archives:

  • Birth (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1914
  • Death (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1914
  • Marriages (registers & certificates): 1848 – 1914

NJSA Mail Request Instructions:

NJSA Online Databases:

FamilySearch: New Jersey Databases:


By Mail via the NJ Dept of Health:

  • Birth (certificates): 1915 – present
  • Death (certificates): 1915 – present
  • Marriages (certificates): 1915 – present

Access for Genealogy Purposes from NJDOH:
** You must provide a form of ID with your genealogical non-cert request; relationship is not necessary! **

  • Birth (certificates): 1915-1935 (80 year restriction for genealogical non-cert copy)
  • Death (certificates): 1915 – 1975 (40 year restriction; SSN & cause of death is obscured for genealogical non-cert copy)
  • Marriages (certificates): 1915 – 1965 (50 year restriction for genealogical non-cert copy)

NOTE: You only need to prove relationship for CERTIFIED, raised seal copies, *not* the VR CERTIFICATIONS that are issued for genealogy requests.

I know, this is clear as mud, right?

8 thoughts on “New Jersey Vital Records: What? How? Where? in 2015

  1. So, is there a massive difference between the Certified and non-certified/genealogy request information received – kind of a long form/short form issue – or are they basically the same without the seal?

    • Peg,
      The genealogical request is the full certificate photocopied on special bonded paper identifying it for non-identity use. The only redactions done are to the death certificate: cause of death and ss#.

      Certified copies from the state are usually the full copy of the “long-form”. Local VR offices are usually the places that do the short-form versions or computer generated transcripts.

      Hope this helps!

      • Thanks for your quick reply. So, in order to get the non-redacted version of a death certificate, one still needs to prove relationship? Or are they accessible on microfilm?

      • You’re welcome!
        If the person dies before 1956, a researcher can obtain a full photocopy using the microfilm at the NJSA. For a non-redacted certificate for 1956 and later, you would need to proof direct relationship.

  2. I’m researching the wife of my Grandfather and was sent the redacted death record since I am only the step Granddaughter, even though we shared the same name. I know I need to either hire a Genealogist or drive from Missouri to Trenton to search the Microfilm. I am planning on a trip to NJ later this yr. Is it self explanatory how to make a photo copy of the unredacted death certificate?

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