Vermont Vital Records
Births, Deaths, Marriages, Divorces, Civil Unions, Dissolutions

About Vermont Vital Records

Statewide vital registration in Vermont began in 1857, when the General Assembly passed legislation requiring towns to report all births, marriages, and deaths to the Secretary of State. Prior to that time, some towns kept such records in order to resolve questions concerning the distribution and inheritance of property.

Vital records - particularly death records - became recognized as an important tool for studying the location and spread of epidemics. In 1896, the Legislature transferred responsibility for the vital statistics system to the newly formed Board of Health, the forerunner of the Vermont Department of Health. The Health Department has retained responsibility for vital statistics to the present day.

Since 2000, the Vermont vital records system includes eight types of vital events: births, deaths, marriages, divorces, civil unions, dissolutions, fetal deaths, and abortions.

Records for events that occurred within the past five years are maintained by the Department of Health. All others are with the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration.

Vital Records Office
Vermont Department of Health
P.O. Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402-0070
Phone: 802-863-7275, or 800-439-5008 (toll free in Vermont)
Email: vitalrecords@state.vt.us

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Types of Vital Records

Births

When a birth occurs, the physician, midwife, or other birth attendant is required to complete a birth certificate and file it with the town clerk in the town of birth within 10 days. For hospital births, it is usually the medical records staff who complete the birth certificate. The completed birth certificate is recorded and filed in the town where the birth took place, and a certified copy is sent to the Health Department.

Deaths

Although a physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse is responsible for filing the death certificate, the job may be, and often is, delegated to the funeral director. Most of the information needed to complete the death certificate is obtained from the family of the deceased. A physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse; however, must complete and certify the cause of death information. Once a death record is completed in the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), it is registered and the death certificate is available to the town clerks for filing.

In addition to receiving copies of vital records from Vermont town clerks, the Health Department also receives copies of certificates of all Vermont resident births and deaths that occur in other states and in Canada. This allows the Department to do statistical analyses of vital events involving Vermont residents even if the birth or death occurred outside of the state.

Health Department staff code and enter all vital records received into a computerized database, and send a data file containing some of the information from the records to the National Center for Health Statistics to become part of a national database.

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Fetal Deaths and Abortions

Reports of fetal death and induced termination of pregnancy (abortion) are sent directly to the Health Department by the physician, hospital, or clinic that performs the procedure. By law, these reports are for statistical purposes only, are not public records, and are destroyed after five years.

Marriages and Civil Unions

When a couple wishes to marry in Vermont, they provide a town clerk with the information needed to complete the license. The couple takes the license to an officiant who signs and dates it and returns it to the town clerk. The town clerk records and files the certificate, and sends a certified copy to the Health Department.

Civil unions were established in 2000 to provide same-sex couples all the benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law as are granted to spouses in a marriage. However the marriage equality act, effective September 1st, 2009 which allows same-sex couples to marry in Vermont, discontinued the need for the separate status of "civil unions." Civil unions entered into prior to September 1, 2009 will continue to be recognized as civil unions.

Civil Marriages

Civil Unions

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Divorces and Dissolutions

A divorce certificate or certificate dissolving a civil union is initiated by a lawyer or other individual handling the divorce or dissolution. The certificate is filed with the court as part of the divorce or dissolution proceedings. The court keeps the certificate until the decree becomes final, usually three months after the court hearing. When the decree is final, the court clerk signs the certificate and sends it to the Health Department for filing.

Effective July 1, 2012, nonresident couples joined in a Vermont civil union or a Vermont marriage who are legally barred from dissolving the union or marriage in their state of residence may file a complaint for divorce without having to establish residence in Vermont - provided certain criteria are met. For more information, please contact the family division of superior court in the Vermont county where the civil union or marriage certificate was filed: Vermont Superior Court, Family Division.

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