Freedom of information act enacted in 1966 gives residents of the U.S. the right to request and obtain records in efforts to keep the government transparent. Government records open to public inspection includes a many types of information from various agencies. Recording, providing and maintaining birth records are a state function which are handled by statewide or local governments departments such as health departments, vital record offices or clerks. These requests can be directly submitted to the department with restrictions. How to order birth records with step by step instructions are stated in the agencies websites where requests are made. Requests can be made online with free downloadable forms that are available for download and/or printing, you can also order by mail or by visiting field offices providing the record. Certified and non certified copies can be ordered of historical births for research or current certificates for personal purposes such as passports, school enrollment, employment, benefits from government and other instances where a record of birth is required. As each state has their own freedom of information act statutes and sunshine laws that vary, it is necessary to visit each states web site separately to obtain the specific information regarding procedures, cost and limitations you will need to be aware of prior to obtaining the birth certificate or record.