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Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-3-205 - Regulations for Disclosure of Vital Records

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Regulations for Disclosure of Vital Records

In order to protect the integrity of vital records and to ensure that they are used properly, no one may permit the inspection of vital records, disclose information contained in vital records, or copy all or part of the records except as otherwise authorized by law. Any regulations that are created in accordance with this chapter shall create adequate standards that will ensure the security and confidentiality of vital records. Under this statute, the Department of Health may allow disclosure of information if it is for research purposes.

If someone in custody of vital records refuses to disclose, permit inspection of, or copying of vital records under this section, their decision may be appealed to the state registrar who will then issue a binding decision upon the matter.

The term "authenticating document" means the certificate, license, order, decree, report, or other document that makes a certain event legal, official, and final.  Any authenticating documents for birth, death, marriage, divorce, annulment of marriage, application for marriage shall be considered public record and verified information from these documents shall be provided upon request. However, information in the “Information for Medical and Health Use Only section of birth certificates or "Confidential Information" of a marriage, divorce, or annulment certificate shall remain confidential unless disclosure is otherwise permitted for research or statistical purposes. This data shall not be subject to a subpoena or court order, and it will not be admissible before a court or judicial body.

The state or local registrar is exclusively allowed to provide verified information from a birth record. Any certified or noncertified copies or abstracts of birth certificates of anyone in the witness protection program shall be provided to the person whose certificate it is or that person’s supervising federal marshal.

A copy of a death certificate may not be issued unless specifically requested by a next of kin or authorized representative, the cause of death is needed in order to establish a legal right or claim, the document is needed to provide benefits to beneficiaries, the information is requested for research or administrative purposes, the court orders a release of the information, or a Department's representative authorizes a written request to obtain the records.

If anyone in charge of vital records receives an application to produce material, they shall provide a copy to the registrant or any other authorized representative. Any other person will need to show that the document is needed to establish personal or property rights in order to gain access to the document. 

Nothing in this section will alter the legal status of a document, record, or report. In addition, the state registrar is responsible for creating rules to implement the provisions relating to an authenticating document. Records in the custody of the state registrar shall be available to the public one hundred years after the date of birth and fifty years after the date of death, marriage, divorce, or annulment. However, any microfilm copy of a vital record shall be available for public inspection.

Current as of June 2015