Registering a Birth, Death, Marriage or Domestic Partnership in the District of Columbia
You need official records for many important things, from getting a Social Security number to claiming benefits. So it’s important that births, deaths and domestic partnerships are registered in a timely and correct manner. Here’s an overview of what’s involved and what’s required in the District of Columbia.
Registering a birth
How soon must a birth be registered?
Reports of live birth must be made within five days of the date of birth. This includes submission of any supporting documentation such as an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, Consent to Parent form or Alternate Surname form.
(D.C. Code § 7-231.08)
Who can register a live birth?
When a baby is born in a medical facility, the medical provider supplies and certifies birth data and supporting documentation to the DC Vital Records Division (DCVRD) through the Electronic Birth Registration System (EBRS).
(D.C. Code § 7-231.08)
When a baby is born en route to a medical facility, the medical facility that first removes the child from the moving conveyance must register the birth record, even if the mother and/or baby are transferred to another medical facility.
When a baby is born outside of an institution like a medical facility, the birth record shall be electronically filed by the following, in order of priority:
- The physician who was in attendance at the live birth or examined the mother and the child
- The medical facility where the mother and child are examined
- Any other licensed or certified health care practitioner who was in attendance at the live birth or examined the mother and the child
- The mother
- The second parent or mother’s spouse or domestic partner if the individual was in attendance at the live birth
- The individual in charge of the premises where the live birth occurred
Out of Institution Births
All births outside of an institution like a medical facility require an appointment and probative evidence that the live birth occurred in the District of Columbia. The Registrar may require additional documentation at any time during the application process. Click here for out of institution birth requirements.
If a request is denied, the DCVRD will supply a rejection letter detailing the reason. Please note that same-day processing is not available for out-of-institution birth registration requests.
Delayed Birth Registration
All births that are registered more than 364 days after date of birth are considered to be delayed birth registrations and have special processing requirements require an appointment and probative evidence that the live birth occurred in the District of Columbia. The Registrar may require additional documentation at any time during the application process. If a request is denied, the DCVRD will supply a rejection letter detailing the reason. Please note that same-day processing is not available for delayed birth registration requests.
What are the steps to registering a birth?
You can learn how a birth certificate is created in this informational video or in the steps below.
- For all births, the mother and/or second parent must obtain from the medical provider and complete the DC Vital Records Mother’s Worksheet. This worksheet requires demographic information about the parents as well as the baby’s name.
- The medical provider must complete the DC Vital Records Facility Worksheet with medical information about the mother and baby, including the baby’s birth weight and time of birth.
(D.C. Code § 7–231.08(e)(1))
- The medical provider then uses these worksheets to enter the baby’s birth information into the DC EBRS (for births at medical facilities) or provide this information to DCVRD staff (for registering an out-of-institution birth).
- The medical facility then electronically submits the record and supporting documents to the DCVRD. When this information is received, the EBRS creates the certificate automatically.
- If you are registering an out-of-institution birth, the certificate will be prepared by DCVRD staff once the application has been approved by the Registrar.
What supporting documentation does the medical provider need to submit?
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity Form, if the mother was not married or in a domestic partnership at the time of either conception or birth and she wishes to name another parent on the certificate
- Consent to Parent Form, if the mother was not married or if she was in a domestic partnership with her same-sex partner at the time of either conception or birth and she wishes to name a second parent on the certificate
- Alternate Surname Form, if the parents wish to give the baby a surname other than the mother’s or father’s or the surname of both parents, hyphenated or unhyphenated in any order
Request a newborn’s Social Security card
The DCVRD can facilitate requests for Social Security cards for newborns using the DC Vital Records Mothers Worksheet. The Social Security Administration will process the request and mail the card directly to the parents.
Registering a death
How soon must a death be registered?
Reports of death must be made within five days after death and before final burial, cremation or internment.
Who may register a death?
When a person dies in a medical facility, the medical provider collects and certifies death data. Medical facilities are statutorily required to complete death certification within 48 hours of the date of death using the DC Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). (D.C. Code § 7–231.12)
When a person dies en route to a medical facility, the medical facility that first removed the deceased from the moving conveyance must register the death record.
When a person dies outside of an institution, the funeral director or hospice facility can begin the death registration process using the EDRS. This includes obtaining an electronic certification of death from the physician who provided care to the deceased for the condition that led to the death.
What are the steps to registering a death?
- Within 48 hours of the death, the medical certification portion of the death certificate (including cause and manner of death) must be electronically completed and signed by the doctor in charge of patient care for the condition resulting in the death, an associate doctor, a chief medical officer or the doctor who performed an autopsy. This occurs unless the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has requested an inquiry.
- The funeral director completes the death certificate with personal data from the next of kin or best qualified person or source available.
- The funeral director then uses the EDRS to submit the death record to the DCVRD.
- When this process has been completed properly, the EDRS creates the certificate automatically.
Delayed and Presumptive Death Registration
All deaths that are registered more than 364 days after date of death are considered to be delayed birth registrations and have special processing requirements require an appointment and probative evidence that the live birth occurred in the District of Columbia. The Registrar may require additional documentation at any time during the application process. If a request is denied, the DCVRD will supply a rejection letter detailing the reason. Please note that same-day processing is not available for delayed death registration requests.
Deaths that are presumed to have occurred in the District of Columbia may only be registered by order of the DC Superior Court. The order must provide the presumed facts of birth. Once an order for presumptive death registration has been obtained, the applicant must submit an original, raised seal copy of the order to DCVRD during a scheduled appointment. Please note that same-day processing is not available for presumptive death registration requests.
Registering a Domestic Partnership
Who can register a domestic partnership?
Both applicants must be at least 18 years of age, unmarried, not engaged in a domestic partnership, and competent to enter a contract.
Since June 11, 1992, unmarried persons of the same or different genders, regardless of one’s place of residence, have been legally able to register as domestic partners in the District of Columbia. (D.C. Code § 32–702)
What are the requirements?
For a domestic partnership certificate, applicants must apply in person at the DC Vital Records Division. Applicants must provide:
- Their Social Security numbers and dates of birth
- Their address
- Previous marriage information, including the city, state, county and ending status (divorce or death) of each marriage
- Work and home telephone numbers
- One form of primary identification
The District of Columbia does NOT have a residency requirement or waiting period or require witnesses. A blood test is NOT required.
For a domestic partnership, applicants must prove they share a mutual, permanent residence by submitting ONE of the following:
- A current residential lease or rental agreement naming both applicants as occupants
- A current residential mortgage that names both applicants as mortgagors
- A deed for residential property stating that both applicants share title to the premises
- An affidavit executed within the last six months IF valid photo identification has the same home address
Domestic partnership applicants must complete the following forms (PDFs):
Domestic partnership applicants must appear in person at the DC Department of Health, Vital Records Division, 899 North Capital Street, NE, Washington, DC. An interview or examination is not required; however, the Registrar may examine applicants under oath.
Registering a Marriage or Divorce
The DCVRD does not administer licenses, registrations or certificates of marriage and divorce. Please contact the DC Superior Court Marriage License Bureau at (202) 879-4840 to obtain these documents.
Training for funeral service providers and medical facility staff
Training modules to assist system users and improve the quality of data derived from birth and death records are accessible via the Electronic Birth and Death Registration Systems. The modules are designed for nurses, birthing center staff, physicians, hospital administrators, supervisors, midwives and the staff of funeral services providers, especially those who are responsible for collecting and entering the birth and death information into the system.
EBRS users can also access a Birth Certificate e-Learning Training, which the National Center for Health Statistics developed to work with the updated Guide to Completing the Facility Worksheets for the Certificate of Live Birth and Report of Fetal Death.
To schedule a live training or for help accessing the training modules, please contact [email protected]