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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Bureau of Vital Statistics is responsible for issuing certified copies of vital records, including birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates for events that occurred in Alaska. The Bureau is required to:

  • register birth, death, marriage, divorce and adoption records;
  • collect and analyze data to produce quality reports for use by public and private agencies;
  • continue to maintain vital records and improve registration, storage, data analysis, retrieval, issuance and archiving;
  • process requests for records and data quickly and accurately while maintaining and improving security measures to prevent fraud and identity theft;
  • complete and track all changes to vital records by adding missing data, correcting errors, and completing amendments.

How long does it take to process a request for a certificate?

Currently, a request sent by mail is processed within 4 weeks upon receipt.

Faxed requests submitted with credit card payment are processed within 5 working days upon receipt.

Heirloom certificate requests require 6 weeks.

Please allow for mailing time.

What is the fastest way to get a certified copy of a certificate?

The fastest way to obtain a certificate is to go to a Vital Statistics office located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau. If filled out correctly, many requests can be processed while you wait. However, some requests may take up to 48 hours to complete. Please note that not all certificates are available at the Anchorage or Fairbanks offices.

Where are the Vital Records offices?

The Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains offices in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Click on the respective city name to obtain the address, phone number and directions.

How do I obtain a one-day marriage commissioner appointment?

Marriage Commissioner Appointments are issued through the Alaska Court System.

Under Alaska Statute 25.05.261(a)(2), anyone can perform a marriage ceremony, including a friend or relative, if they first obtain a marriage commissioner appointment from an Alaskan court as authorized by AS 25.05.081. The person should be 18 years of age or older, and does not need to be a resident of Alaska or the United States in order to perform the ceremony. Below is the Alaska Court System Web site for Marriage Commissioner appointments: www.state.ak.us/courts/comm.htm

Who is eligible to request a birth certificate?

A person may obtain only his or her own birth certificate, except for parents who may obtain their own child's certificate. Access to birth records becomes available to the public 100 years after the event.

Who is eligible to request a death certificate?

Access to death records filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics office is restricted for 50 years after the date of the event to family members, their legal representatives, and persons who can prove they are legally entitled. When ordering a death record, you must state your relationship to the person named on the certificate or your reason for needing the record.

Who is eligible to request a marriage or divorce certificate?

Access to marriage and divorce records filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics office is restricted for 50 years after the date of the event to the persons named on the certificate, their legal representatives, and persons who can prove they are legally entitled. When ordering a marriage or divorce record, you must state your relationship to the person named on the certificate or your reason for needing the record.

What is the difference between a divorce record, decree and certificate?

Divorce records are generally in two parts: DIVORCE RECORDS & DIVORCE DECREES and are available through the Alaska Court System only. DIVORCE CERTIFICATES are available through the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

DIVORCE RECORD: A divorce record is all of the pages filed in a divorce. In some divorce settlements the records can be several pages long.
DIVORCE DECREE: A divorce decree is a ruling that summarizes the rights and responsibilities of the divorced parties. It's a document that states the basic information regarding the divorce, case number, parties, date of divorce, terms the parties have agreed upon. The Decree is usually only a few pages long. Decrees are available through the court.
DIVORCE CERTIFICATE: Is a one page document outlining who is divorced, when, and where the divorce took place. A certificate is available only through the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Why do I need to provide identification when ordering a certificate?

If you are requesting a certificate, you must provide a copy of your government-issued photo ID. This is to help prevent identification fraud and to insure that you are eligible to receive the certificate. A government-issued photo ID of the person named on the certificate is not required unless you are requesting your own birth, marriage, or divorce certificate.

I just got married, how do I change my last name?

There is no provision on an Alaska marriage license to specify your married name on your marriage certificate. If you want to change your name after marriage, request a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The certificate can be used as proof of your name change and is accepted by the DMV, Social Security Administration, banking institutions, insurance, retirement plans, and other organizations. The marriage certificate can also be used for changing your credit cards, passport, and filing tax returns.

I have a Vital Statistics-related question, whom do I email?

To inquire about certified copies of Birth, Death, Marriage, or Divorce Certificates, please e-mail the Records Processing Unit.

To request vital statistics data or Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics Publications, please e-mail the Research Unit.

To inquire about Adoptions, Affidavit of Paternity, or correcting a record, please email the Special Services Unit.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics web site, contact the Site Administrator.