There is a great deal of recorded history in Rhode Island, with many town collections of vital records going back to the late 1600s. If you are going to look that far into history, you will need to contact town halls and registrars offices individually. But for Rhode Island birth records earlier than 1915, you can make a simpler request with the state Vital Records office.
Some of their records collection goes back to 1853, but the older records before 1915 are incomplete. There is more on getting older records below.
The state privacy laws state that Rhode Island birth records are confidential until 100 years have passed since the date of birth on the record. After that, they are public domain and free to access. Until then, you will have to be in the immediate family of the person of record. Those relations include yourself, parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent. Any legal professionals with a need for the records can also have access with documentation.
To make a request, you need a filled-out form as well as the search fees. The forms are available online (http://www.health.ri.gov/forms/recordrequest/Birth.pdf) and its only 1 page long, and relatively simple to complete. You need the name of the person on the record, their place of birth, date of birth and the parent's full names (provide the mother's maiden name though).
You also need to identify yourself, your relation to the person on the record, why you are making the request and provide a photocopy of your own ID (government issued with photo only).
It will cost $20 USD per record you Rhode Island birth record request, though additional copies of the same record are only $15 each if you order them at the same time. You have to pay by check or money order, made out to the General Treasurer of RI.
When you have all the paperwork together, mail it all to the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, 3 Capitol Hill, Room 101, Providence RI, 02908-5097 USA. They also are open to the public for counter service during regular business hours.
Mailed in requests typically take 6 to 8 weeks to be processed and have your records back to you. If you want to pay an additional $7, you can get rush deliver that will be processed in 5 business days. Make sure to write "RUSH" on the envelope.
If you are looking to get a Rhode Island birth record from a town office, you can find a full list of clerk offices at the Vital Records website (http://www.health.ri.gov/records/about/clerkoffices/index.php). They can research any pre-1915 records that happened in their jurisdiction, and you can also get recent records after 1965 for births that took place anywhere in the state. The process for requesting is the same as at the main state office, though not all offices will have public counter service and may only take requests by mail.
If you would like to request Rhode Island Birth Certificates by mail, take these following steps:
Filling out a Rhode Island Birth Certificate application is the easiest way to process your request.
A copy of a valid, government-issued photo ID must accompany your request.
You will also need to include a check or money order for $20 to cover the search fees. It will take approximately 6 to 8 weeks to have the certificate returned to you, though expedited service is available for an additional fee.
If you would like more information regarding accessing Rhode Island birth records, contact:
Rhode Island Department of Health
Rhode Island Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
3 Capitol Hill, Rm. 101
Providence, RI 02908-5097
Ordering Rhode Island Birth Records
To request Rhode Island birth records, you will need to fill out an application with the State of Rhode Island Department of Health. Records dating after 1965 can often be obtained by contacting your local office. Records older than 100 years are considered public record and can be obtained through the state archives or by contacting the county where the birth occurred.
Available Ordering Methods
You can order Rhode Island birth records in two ways: by visiting either the state Department of Health or your local office, or by sending in a request by mail. The State Department has records for all counties, and your local office will have records for most births that occurred in the state after 1965.
Rhode Island birth records are not considered to be part of the public record until 100 years after the event. If you are looking for a copy of a recent record, then you must be either the person named, an immediate family member, or have a legal reason for accessing the record.