BOSTON – Tuesday, March 19, 2019 – Building off his commitment to ensure Boston’s services are easily accessible to all, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today launched a web application, allowing residents to order Boston-based birth certificates directly from the Registry Department. This follows the success of the death certificates online launch in March of 2018.
“In Boston, we’re committed to using technology to make our residents’ lives simpler, and public documents more accessible,” said Mayor Walsh. “Birth certificates are needed by many of our residents, and this new system will allow greater transparency and convenience, allowing residents easier access to their vital records.”
Mayor Walsh has worked to create easier access to individuals’ birth certificates, including partnering with Massachusetts State Representative Michael Moran to file legislation to make it easier for residents to access their birth certificates.
“Making critical documents like birth certificates more accessible to every person born in Boston is vital to ensuring equity and improving a resident’s ability to obtain a driver’s license, secure housing, and get a job,” said Representative Michael Moran. “This announcement of progress by the Mayor is a great step forward and I am eager to build on it with our legislation to remove even more barriers to accessing these critical documents that some of our most vulnerable residents face.”
The Registry Department has seen a 30 percent increase in requests in the past year largely as a result of the REAL ID Act; federal legislation passed in 2005. This act mandated that an “enhanced driver’s license” be issued separate from standard licenses to citizens. Soon, U.S. Citizens will need either this enhanced driver’s license or a passport to enter certain federal buildings and to fly in the United States. Here in Massachusetts, residents need their birth certificate to get a license. For this reason, the Department of Innovation and Technology partnered with the Registry Department to ease the process and cost burden on constituents, and the operational demand as we near the federal deadline for compliance with the law. The law will go into full effect on October 1, 2020.
Previously, the process of ordering birth certificates online was only available through a third-party service contracted by the state to find vital records, but the average cost per request was typically more than $40, not including shipping and processing fees. In addition, orders could take more than a few weeks to process. As the main source of truth for birth certificates in Boston, the City was well positioned to offer a quicker, easier, and more cost-effective option. Both mail and in-person options will continue to be available through the Registry Department.
Since the launch of the death certificates application, the City has seen online fulfillment overtake in-mail and in-person, and requests are often processed same day. This past February, 42 percent of death certificates processed were ordered online, and Boston anticipates similar efficiencies gained for constituents and City staff processing the birth requests. Birth certificates cost $14 per copy, and that price includes shipping.
“The Registry Department is thrilled to provide this new online, affordable option for Boston birth requests. With the success of our online death request option last year and the increased demand for birth certificates for the REAL IDs, our customers will find the birth option quick and efficient,” said Patty McMahon, City Registrar.
Mayor Walsh has been committed to bringing more equity and choice to residents throughout Boston through the Department of Innovation and Technology, from launching Boston’s first-ever Digital Equity Fund; to bringing WiFi hotspots to the Boston Public Library’s lending program; to Boston’s Wicked Free WiFi program; to working to protect Net Neutrality rules that ensure a fair and open internet.
About the Department of Innovation & Technology
The Department of Innovation & Technology works to engage, empower, and improve life for residents in the City through technology. The focus areas of their work includes digital engagement and services, data and analytics, and broadband, cable and digital equity. The department oversees the development and implementation of new digital tools, open data, Wicked Free Wi-Fi, mobile apps, and cybersecurity practices.