Bay County in Michigan offers online ordering of certificates

LaptopA new online service will be offered by the Bay County Clerk’s office in Michigan starting January 1, 2015. The service, which was designed to add convenience, will allow residents to order birth, death, and marriage certificates online.

The Bay County Board of Commissioners approved the ruling on September 16, which will allow people to make online purchases through Vital Chek, a third party vendor. Vital Chek authenticates identity and then allows the certificates to be sent. The vendor currently works with 450 records offices across the United States, including nearly 30 Michigan county offices and the State of Michigan’s records office.

Cynthia Luczak, Bay County Clerk said it won’t cost the county a dime to acquire the processing technology. Vital Chek will charge a $10 processing fee to purchase the records online. This is in addition to the $14 fee the county charges for processing certified copies. An additional $3 is charged for more than one copy. If overnight mailing is required, it will cost $20. Of course, all of these prices are subject to change with changes in inflation, market rates, etc.

Luczak said that, overall, one will likely pay around $50 for a birth certificate and a copy to be sent overnight. She said although the cost may be a bit high, in the long run it could be worth it for many people. For example it could be needed for a job requirement or for health insurance.

The Bay County office often receives requests for birth certificates and other documents from people out of state. At the moment, to receive these vital records a written request must be sent to the office with a check or cash included. The person then must wait for processing to receive the requested records. Online orders and processing will significantly decrease the amount of time spent on these requests.

Bay County has made the process of requesting vital documents online as painless as possible, they say. After January 1, users may go to the county website at www.baycounty-mi.gov/clerk and click on the Vital Chek icon. Users will then need to put in their personal information along with payment information and select the vital records requested. Vital Check will then verify identity and process the information for the clerk’s office. All documents would then be sent out within 24 hours.

Diana Bosworth, Eaton County Clerk said Lansing, Michigan has used the processing system for several years. She said Vital Chek has worked well for residents and those that need to order documents from out of state. Bosworth said the number of times a transaction has not gone through has been minimal. On average, the office receives around two to three requests per week. If an identity cannot be verified online, those requesting the information will have to request the desired documents through mail.

Luczak will be working closely with Vital Check after the November election. She wants to make sure the system will run as smoothly as possible when it is open to the general public on January 1st. She anticipates many requests the first week, as it will be the first time constituents will have ever had access to the convenient technology.