How to Obtain Your Census Record Through the Census Bureau's Age Search Service
Welcome to this us Census Bureau E-Tutorial on How to Obtain a Copy of your Census Record.
On occasion, an individual needs to track down or establish a birth record when the traditional or normal birth certificate is lost or destroyed. The U.S. Census bureau provides an "Age Search Service" that provides legally recognized source documents for obtaining a passport or court-required documents or records. Specific census records from your childhood can serve as proof of age or citizenship. The state department recognizes certified census records as an alternative to birth certificates for passport applications. This is helpful if your birth certificate was lost or destroyed.
Other agencies and courts also accept census records as official documents. The law protects the confidentiality of census records, and they cannot be publicly released for 72 years. However, the law also provides an exemption that allows you to obtain an official copy of your own census information, records of your minor children, or as someone’s legal heir or representative
This tutorial will show you how to locate and submit a request to obtain your census record using the Census Bureau’s Age Search Service. To start, go to the Census Bureau home page at census.gov. We update our site often, so the page you see might look different from the one you see here. If you cannot find what you are looking for after watching this, you can contact our call center at 1-800-923-8282.
There are a number of ways you can find this information, including: entering a search term, locating it through the Index A-Z or searching in “Frequently Asked Questions.” For this example, we will use the Index A-Z option. You will see a link for the Census Bureau Age Search Service. Here you’ll learn how the service works, including: who can request a census record, how to contact the age search service staff, the census years that are searchable, fees and timing for regular and expedited searches, and the information required. You’ll also see a link to the BC-600 form you’ll need to fill out and send in to formally request your census record.
This form cannot be submitted online, however, you can choose to fill it out online and print it before mailing it in. Let’s take a look at that form. The first two pages give detailed, line-by-line instructions on how to complete the form. On the 3rd page, fill out the name of the applicant and the applicant’s current mailing address. Fill in the full name of the person whose record is being searched, as well as some detailed identifying information that will help the Census Bureau researchers locate the record.
Fill in the kind of service requested, and fee. The $65 nonrefundable fee – payable by check or money order – covers a search for one person in one census year. If the record is located it will include: the person’s name, relationship to the head of the household, age at the time of the census, and state of birth and citizenship status if that information was collected in the census year chosen. For years prior to 1970, you can obtain additional census information about the person that was collected at the time, such as occupation and income.
There is an additional charge of $10.00 to gather the extra information. Census forms have changed over time so not all information is available for all census years. The normal processing time for a census record search is about 3 to 4 weeks after receipt. If you need the record in a week or less you can expedite the process for an additional fee, following the directions on the form. On the 4th page, you’ll need to select the census you wish to search. The census is conducted every 10 years in the year ending with “zero.” For an age search, you should select the earliest census year in which you appear.
For example, if you were born in 1935, choose the 1940 Census. Prior to 1970, all census records were recorded by hand, by census takers who went door-to-door, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. That’s why it’s important you provide accurate address information for the person whose record is being searched. The form also provides directions on how to describe the location of rural residences without traditional street addresses and even includes space to draw a local map. Once it’s complete, mail your application to the address listed at the bottom of the form along with a check or money order for the service you are requesting.
If you need help filling out this application, please call 812–218–3046 Monday through Friday. We’ll return voice messages within one business day. The U.S. Census Bureau – Measuring America – People, Places and our Economy.