In 1919, Vital Records and Health Statistics was created to register births and deaths that occurred in New Mexico. Prior to this time, birth and death records were collected by a variety of institutions which were not health-related, including counties and churches. For the most part these statistics are not currently available from us.
Today, Vital Records receives its data from hospitals, midwives, funeral directors, physicians, the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI), tribal authorities and other sources. New Mexico data is shared with the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in order to assess the health of the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a vital record?
A vital record is a document issued by the government that provides proof of a major life event - birth, death, marriage, and divorce. As an American, you have a right to have these certificates both for yourself and for certain members of your immediate family.
When did we start collecting vital records?
In 1919 a State board of Health was created, and the first unit created was that of Vital Records and Health Statistics, which would govern the reporting of births and deaths. The unit has been in continuous operation since that time.
What kind of health information do we get from vital records?
A full time program to deter and detect fraud. Document fraud is estimated to cost the state of New Mexico approximately $813 million dollars each year, and birth certificate fraud is a key element in many welfare, food stamp and other benefit schemes.
Recognizing this problem, the legislature made birth and death certificate fraud a felony.
What services do we provide?
- Register birth and death certificates for the State of New Mexico.
- Issue certified copies of filed Birth Certificates and Death Certificates.
- Register delayed births.
- Process corrections to vital records.
- Process amendments to birth certificates after Adoption.
- Process court ordered amendments.
- Process Acknowledgement of Paternity requests.
- Maintain a Putative Father Registry.
- Analyze and tabulate vital statistics.
- Prepare data files for public health surveillance, health researchers, and state and federal agencies.
- Publish Health Statistics related to birth and death data.
What are the secondary uses of birth/death certificates?
While the initial driving force for birth and death certificates was to collect health data, the dual component—legal uses—has grown in number and importance, and become better known to the general public than the statistical uses. Providing certificates for citizens to:
- enter school
- trace descent
- obtain licenses
- play Little League, soccer, and other sports
- qualify for pensions and Social Security
- claim life insurance
- settle estates
- obtain work permits
- trace place of interment
- enter military service
- prove citizenship
- obtain a passport
- obtain special benefits
In an average year, VRHS registers about 27,000-30,000 births and 10,000-14,000 deaths, issues approximately 60,000-70,000 birth certificates, 80,000 death certificates, files 600 adoptions, registers and files 7,500 affidavits of paternity, and revises 4,000 records to add fathers, change names, etc.
Where can I get a copy of a marriage license or divorce decree?
Copies of marriage licenses and divorce decrees are available from the county clerk of the county where the marriage license was issued or the divorce decree was filed. For further information about these services, please contact the appropriate office of the county involved.
Where can I get a certified birth/death certificate copy from another state?
The NCHS provides a Vital Records Reference by State where you can click on the state where the birth, death, marriage or divorce occurred and obtain instructions on how to proceed.
Where can I obtain marriage licenses & divorce decrees?
Copies of marriage licenses are available from the county clerk of the county where the marriage license was issued. Copies of divorce decrees are available from the district court where the court order was filed. For further information about these services, please contact the appropriate county clerk or district court.