Pennsylvania has a state-wide collection of birth records that go back to 1906, though the overall collection is not comprehensive until closer to 1915. Individual counties have their own records and registrations that can go as early as 1852. It will depend on the town and county though, and can only be investigated by contacting each county registrar's office and inquiring about their archived materials.
More recent Pennsylvania birth records will have privacy restrictions attached though they are not too difficult to work with. You can request your own certificate, and also records for your spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild. Great-grand parents and children are also eligible. "Step" relations by marriage are also permitted, as long as documentation of the marriage relationship is included with the records request.
Futhermore, you can also request a birth record if the person on the record is deceased, in which case your relationship to that person is not required.
It costs $10 USD for each Pennsylvania birth record that you order, to be paid as a check or money order to "Vital Records". For an extra $35, you can request a 10-year search in the event that you don't know the exact date of birth.
Application forms for a records request can be downloaded from the Pennsylvania Department of Health website (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/birth_certificates/14121). The form has 5 sections but is simple to complete, with the full name, date of birth, place of birth, and parent's full names. You also need to complete your own contact information and your reason for making a request for a Pennsylvania birth record. A clear photo copy of your own ID (government issued with a photo) must also accompany your request forms. There is a list on the form of acceptable forms of ID. If you don't have a photo ID, you may have to provide 2 other items instead.
If you are making a request for a person who is now deceased, and you are not an immediate family member, you also have to include a copy of the death record for that person.
You can drop your completed forms and payment off at one of the six Vital Records offices that are located in Erie, Harrisburg, New Castle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Scranton. When getting counter service, you can often get your records while you wait.
Otherwise, you'll have to mail your paperwork to the Division of Vital Records, attn: Birth Unit, 101 South Mercer Street, PO Box 1528, New Castle PA, 16103 USA. You will have at least a 3 month wait when mailing a request for a Pennsylvania birth record.
As mentioned earlier, the state record collection does not go as far back as some other sources. For older records, you can make your record request at the county office where the birth took place and you can also research the holdings at the Pennsylvania State Archives (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_archives/2887). You can search some indexes online but most of their material needs to be examined in person, at their Harrisburg location.
Take these outlined steps in order to request Pennsylvania birth certificates by mail:
The first step to ordering Pennsylvania birth records by mail is filling out a Pennsylvania Birth Certificate request form.
Obtain a legible copy of your current, government-issued, photo ID. If you do not have an ID, you may still be able to make the request if you are able to provide the documentation listed at the Department of Health's website.
Return the application and identification, along with a check or money order in the amount of $10, to the address below. Members of the Armed Services and their dependents may be able to waive this fee by following the instructions listed on the application.
For further information regarding accessing Pennsylvania birth records, you can contact the office below:
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103
Method For Ordering Pennsylvania Birth Records
To order Pennsylvania birth records, you will need to go through the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Department has kept state birth records on file since 1906.
Available Ordering Methods
There are three ways that you can order Pennsylvania birth records. Records can be requested online, by mail, or by visiting one of the six public offices in person.
Limited Access To Records
Because Pennsylvania birth records are considered private, they will not be released as part of the Right-to-Know-Law. You will only be able to request Pennsylvania birth records if you are the person listed, a spouse, a parent or grandparent, a sibling, a child or grandchild, or a legal representative. You may be requested to provide additional information to identify yourself.