Though the land that is now Florida changed hands a number of times, sometimes being under the control of Great Britain, sometimes Spain, it became part of the United States officially in 1845. Most vital records weren't recorded until after that time.
The office of Vital Records has Florida birth records dating back from 1917 and a mix of incomplete records between 1865 and 1917. Birth records for these earlier years are most complete in the counties of Pensacola, Ocala, Orange County, Key West, Tampa and St. Augustine. If you are looking in these regions, you will have the most luck for old records.
The privacy laws for the state keep the birth records from becoming public for 100 years, so you will have the best luck working back from then. Newer Florida birth records will only be issued to immediate relatives, and then only when the person on the record is deceased (proof will be required). So if you are trying to research anyone who was born within 100 years, you will have difficulty if they are still alive. You will also need to be over the age of 18 to make any requests.
Records from after 1917 are provided on embossed paper with the state seal, but those earlier records are simply photocopies.
You can place your request either in person or by mail. Either way, you will be contacting the main office in Jacksonville. Their mailing address is: Bureau of Vital Statistics, Customer Services, PO Box 210, Jacksonville FL, 32231-0042 USA. If you are going in person, the street address is 1217 Pearl Street.
The Department of Health has the proper form on their website (http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/DH_726_12-10.pdf) so you can download it and fill it out before you approach the office. The current fees are listed on the form, and it is currently $9 USD for a standard record or $14 for a certified one. If they are unable to find the Florida birth record that you are looking for, you'll get a "no record found" statement rather than a refund. They do accept personal checks or money orders, made out to Vital Statistics.
When you put your application together, you'll have to provide your own personal identification as well as a death certificate copy if you are eligible to be requesting a birth record newer than 100 years old. As for information, you'll need to identify the record you want by the person's name, birth date, place of birth and parent's names.
Assuming your application is acceptable, you should get a response within a week if you have mailed in your forms.
Information included in a Florida birth record will depend on the time it was issued. Modern records (2004 to the present) will provide you with name, birth date, sex, birth weight, place of birth and details on the parents. Older records are more brief and have name, date of birth, sex, and parent's names. Place of birth is usually only listed by the county, not town or city.
To request a copy of your Florida birth certificate or your child's record, you will need to:
Fill out the Florida Birth Certificate form with the parents' and child's information.
Select the type of birth record that you need. In most cases, the computer certification is sufficient to determine identity.
Return the application along with the appropriate fee to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. A copy of your photo ID should also be included. Mail orders can be paid for with check or money order, but phone and fax orders need to be paid by credit card. Walk in orders can be paid for with cash, check, money order, or credit card.
For additional information regarding accessing Florida birth records, you can contact the Bureau below:
Florida Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Attn: Customer Services
P.O. Box 210
Jacksonville, FL 32231-0042
(904) 359-6900 ext. 9000
How To Gain Access to Florida Birth Records
Since the 1980s, Florida birth records have been available through computer certification. These records are accepted by the Social Security Administration, Passport Office, school districts, and other entities as a form of identification.
How to Order Computer Certified Birth Records
Florida birth records can be ordered by phone or fax, by mail, and in person at the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Restrictions Governing Access to Birth Records
In order to access Florida birth records, certain criteria must be met. You must be the child listed on the birth certificate and at least 18 years of age or be the parent, guardian, or legal representative of the child. All others trying to access Florida birth records will need a court order.