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Vital Records FAQ's - Marriage, Birth, Death

Q: How can I obtain a certified copy of my birth record?

In person:

If you were born in Berrien County, you may request a certified copy of your birth record in person at the County Clerk’s Office at the Administration Center in Saint Joseph or the South County Courthouse in Niles. The Administration Center is available from 8:30 am through 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. The South County Courthouse is available from 9:00 am through 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm through 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.

By mail:

If you prefer to request a certified copy of a Berrien County birth record through the mail, you will need to complete the attached Berrien County Birth Request Form and mail it along with the appropriate fee and a photocopy of your valid driver’s license, state I.D. card or three alternative pieces of identification as listed on the back of the form.

Online:

You may order your birth record securely online through VitalChek. Payments for records ordered through VitalChek are made by credit card. Please keep in mind that as orders placed online are facilitated through a third party, fees will differ from those we offer directly through us in the office or by mail.

Q: Can I purchase a certified copy of a birth record over the phone?

You may order your birth record securely over the phone through VitalChek at (888) 243-0055. Payments for records ordered through VitalChek are made by credit card. Please keep in mind that orders placed over the phone are facilitated through a third party, fees will differ from those we offer directly through us in the office or by mail.

Q: Can you fax/ email a birth certificate to me?

In order to protect your identity, we are unable to send records electronically by email or fax.

Q: How much does it cost to purchase a birth certificate?

The cost for a certified copy is $13.00 for the first copy and $4.00 for each additional copy of the same record purchased at the same time.

Senior citizens aged 65 or older may purchase their own record at the cost of $5.00 for the first copy and $4.00 for each additional copy of the same record purchased at the same time.

Q: Can I request a copy of my parent’s/ sibling’s/ spouse’s birth certificate?

No. In Michigan, birth records that are less than 100 years old are considered “closed records” and by law may only be obtained by: 

  • The person or parent(s) named on the record
  • Legal representative (Must produce court-certified guardianship papers)
  • Heir (Must provide death certificate and proof of relationship)
  • Court of competent jurisdiction

Q: What kind of identification is required to receive a birth certificate?

We will accept a current valid driver's license, state-issued photo identification card or passport.

If you don’t have current identification, we are happy to work with you to find other ways to verify your identity. Without a current, state issued identification card, you will need to provide at least three pieces of documentation from different sources that will verify your name and date of birth. Please see the back of the request form for suggested items. Please note: We cannot use a Social Security Card, junk mail or matricula consular cards.

Q: What death certificates do you have on file?

We have death certificates for anyone who has passed away in Berrien County.  The years we have on file range from 1867 to the present.

Q: Who can purchase a death certificate?

Death certificates are open to the public, anyone can purchase one.

Q: Do I need identification to purchase a death certficate?

No identification is required to purchase a death certificate.

Q: How long does it take to get a death certificate?

If you come in to our office, it only takes about 5 minutes.  You can also order one online or order through the mail.  A death request form is available online.

Q: Does the location of death matter?

Yes!  If the person whose death certificate you are wanting lived in Berrien County, but passed away somewhere other than Berrien County, we would not have that Death Certificate on file.   It would be located in the County where that person passed away.  We only have death records for individuals who passed away in Berrien County.

Q: What do I do if I’m getting married in Berrien County?

If you live in Michigan: you must apply for a marriage license in the county you live in, and then you can get married anywhere in the State of Michigan.

If both of you live out-of-state: you must apply for a marriage license in the county you wish to be married in.

Marriage Licenses can be obtained by applying in person at the County Clerk’s office OR online through our website.

Q: We applied for our marriage license online – do we both have to be present to pick it up?

Yes, both people have to appear in person with valid ID to pick up the license if applied for online.  This way, we are able to validate and copy each ID as well as make any changes necessary to the marriage license before the wedding – we can make any changes before the marriage license is signed at the wedding but once the couple is married, it takes a court order at the couple’s expense to get the licenses changed or fixed.

Q: We recently moved or are going to move after we get married – do we put our new/current address on the marriage application?

The addresses on the marriage license and driver’s licenses need to match. The best option is to update the driver’s license before applying to get married to ensure the address is current.

Q: What documents do we need when applying for a marriage license?

The only documentation needed to apply for a marriage license are valid ID’s for both individuals getting married.

Q: How much does a marriage license cost? How long is the marriage license valid?

The cost of a marriage license is $20 for Berrien County residents and $30 for out-of-state residents. 

Every marriage license is valid for 33 days from the day it is applied for.  This number includes the three day waiting period, so once the marriage license is picked up (after three days from applying), it will be valid for 30 days. We recommend applying 1-2 weeks before the anticipated date of marriage.

Q: What do I do if I want to get married at the Courthouse?

Wedding ceremonies at the Berrien County Courthouse are conducted by the Berrien County Trial Court Judges and Magistrates on the first floor.  Couples who wish to be married at the Courthouse must pre-schedule the ceremony at 3:30, 3:45 or 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday or Friday (except holidays) by calling (269) 982-8610. The fee is $10.  Find out more on our website.

 

 
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Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Berrien County Administration Center
701 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
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Last Updated 4/22/2016   
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General Telephone: (269) 983-7111
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