Title 23
Health and Safety

Chapter 3
Vital Records

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-3-23

§ 23-3-23. Disclosure of records.

(a) To protect the integrity of vital records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the vital records system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in, vital records, or to copy, or issue a copy, of all, or part of, any vital record, except as authorized by regulation or as provided for herein.

(b) The director of health may authorize, under appropriate safeguards, the disclosure of data contained in vital records for research purposes.

(c) Information in vital records indicating that a birth occurred out of wedlock shall not be disclosed, except as provided by regulation, upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or until the record becomes a public record as defined by regulations.

(d) Appeals from decisions of the custodians of permanent local records refusing to disclose information, or to permit inspection of or copying of records, of persons born one hundred (100) years before the date of inspection, under the authority of this section and regulation issued under this section, shall be made to the state registrar of vital records. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, those records shall be open for research to any member of a legally incorporated genealogy society and those societies shall be permitted to incorporate statistics derived from those records in their publications, upon receipt of permission of the director of health; and provided, further, that no person, except the person whose birth is recorded, his or her issue, parent or guardian, spouse, civil union and/or registered domestic partner, grandparent, or sibling; or attorneys at law, title examiners, or members of legally incorporated genealogical societies in the conduct of their official duties as defined in regulations shall have any access to, or be permitted to, examine the original or any copy of the birth certificate or birth record, of any person in the custody of any registrar of vital records or of the state department of health.

(e) Title examiners, attorneys, or members of legally incorporated genealogical societies, in the conduct of their official duties as defined in regulations, shall be allowed to examine death certificates that have been filed with the department of health and/or municipalities. No fees shall be charged to such persons for the searching or viewing of death certificates, but fees for copies pursuant to § 23-1-54 or § 23-3-25 shall apply.

History of Section.
P.L. 1961, ch. 87, § 1; P.L. 1972, ch. 278, § 1; P.L. 1983, ch. 198, § 2; P.L. 2014, ch. 193, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 522, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 526, § 1.