February 2020 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

February 2020

Get your REAL ID now and avoid a REAL problem

REAL ID message from Governor Walz

The REAL ID enforcement date is quickly approaching, and the Office of Vital Records (OVR) wants to make sure that you and all of our customers have the information to get REAL ID ready. The federal enforcement date is October 1, 2020.

Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz, recently sent a message to Minnesotans encouraging them to apply for a REAL ID or an enhanced driver’s license NOW to avoid the rush as the deadline approaches. WATCH Governor Walz

After Oct. 1, 2020, Minnesotans will not be able to use their standard driver's licenses or ID cards to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities. Instead, every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license, passport or passport card, or other TSA accepted Identification to fly within the U.S. or enter federal facilities. And right now, only 12 percent of Minnesotans have their REAL IDs. That leaves about 3.7 million Minnesota license holders who may still need a REAL ID. Of course, some of those individuals may have U.S. Passports so they may not intend to take action to get an enhanced or REAL ID Driver’s License. However, time is running out for individuals who do not have passports and who may need an enhanced or REAL ID Driver’s License for work or for travel.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety requires applicants to present documents before issuing a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card. The documents must meet the requirements explained in REAL ID Driver’s License and Identification Card Identification Requirements (PDF). In short, the documents must provide:

  • Proof of identity and date of birth
  • Proof of name change/each name change
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of Minnesota Residency

Vital records offices across Minnesota report a higher than usual demand for services. Wait times for in-person services may be long and processing time for mailed-in requests for birth and marriage certificates is taking longer. In January, OVR received more than 400 requests to amend birth records. OVR posts its processing times for Birth Record Amendments and routine Birth Certificates online. Encourage customers to read the Birth Record Amendment Packet (PDF) carefully and to submit only supporting documents that qualify under law to avoid follow up and further delay.

Make sure you are ready. Learn more about how to apply for a REAL ID and stay up-to-date at REALID.dps.mn.gov.

Getting the REAL Scoop

County Vital Records Offices

Thanks to Julie Hanson for her contribution to Vital Records News.

Julie Hanson, Scott County Property & Customer Service Manager, shared some tips for getting the REAL Scoop on REAL ID at the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) Vitals Session, February 11, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Julie encouraged local issuance staff to keep some things in mind as they plan for staffing and workloads to meet increased demand.

  • Communication – leverage what you have – Julie suggested that you “tie your local issuance office’s social media accounts to Driver and Vehicle Services Facebook, and Twitter. Even if you don’t accept driver’s license applications in your office or county, help get the message out.”
  • Use the web – point customers to the Driver and Vehicle Services ONLINE SELF SERVICES webpage to pre-apply and make sure they have all the required documents. Julie says, “It doesn’t solve all problems, but does do a good job on educating people as they complete the application. Bonus: it saves a bit of time for your staff in the office!”

  • Time lines – encourage your customers to apply early! The turnaround time is longer than they might think – Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards are currently taking up to 10 weeks to get into the applicant’s hands. “Imagine if there’s an issue with the birth name – now they need to apply for a birth amendment and add that time in. Assuming the application volume is going to increase it follows that the processing times will increase as well,” commented Julie.
  • Education – the Department of Public Safety tells us that only 12% of Minnesotans have a REAL ID, but do they really need to have one? There are 140 million passport holders in the U.S. but the Department of State has no way to know how many Minnesotans have passports Julie says, “Customers come in and tell us they want the ‘best’ ID – help them figure out what is best for them. Maybe they don’t need to do anything at all.”
  • Staffing and supplies – vital records and licensing offices expect a mad rush of REAL ID applicants late spring/early summer and, as we are seeing, that means an increase in the number of birth and marriage certificate requests. Can you utilize staff from other areas to assist? Can you hire temporary staff? Do you have a good stock of security paper in your office?

More than anything get ready and stay ready.

No fee to correct cause of death

Medical Examiners/Coroners/Medical Certifiers/Funeral Staff

Having a legal record of someone’s death is important and having the correct health information on the record benefits public health and future generations. Accurate vital records are the responsibility of all of us involved in data collection, data entry, quality checking, and registering vital events. When a data item is wrong, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) wants its partners to take action to assure that the record is right. And while some changes require a fee, there is no fee to correct the immediate and underlying cause of death even after a death certificate has been issued.

As many of you know, legal certificates contain only a subset of all the information contained in a vital record. The individual items appearing on a birth certificate and the demographic and legal items on a death certificate are “certification items” under Minnesota Statutes, section 144.212. This law also explains that an amendment is the “completion or correction made to certification items on a vital record after a certification has been issued or more than one year after the event.” Minnesota Statutes, section 144.226 requires a $40 fee to amend any vital record.

So why is there confusion about who must pay to fix a record? “Not everyone reads the details in the law, and a lot of people interchange terminology. They use the generic term ‘change’ or they say ‘correct’ when they mean ‘amend’ or they say ‘amend’ when they really mean ‘correct’. In vital records terminology it makes a difference,” explains Molly Crawford, State Registrar. “There’s no fee to correct the cause of death and other medical data because families deserve to have accurate health information and public health depends on it.”

Morticians meet with informants and families to gather data about decedents. Morticians, or their staff, enter the data into the electronic death registration system, Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C). Before they order death certificates, they can print a worksheet or email the document to the family and ask the family to verify everything. “This quality checking is a critical validation step that no funeral home should skip,” said Crawford.

However, sometimes the medical information takes longer and often families and morticians may not review it until after they have certificates. And, although MR&C has some validation edits, occasionally typos happen. Sometimes medical certifiers, or their designated staff, enter data into MR&C and file the cause of death before they have all their pathology results or sometimes they make a mistake. “A fee to fix medical information on a record should not be a barrier to accuracy or a penalty to families,” said Crawford. “That’s why we instituted an exchange policy that allows funeral homes and families to get new certificates if the cause of death information is corrected. They can turn in any unused death certificates and OVR or the county vital records office will exchange them for new ones at no cost.”

In recent interviews with medical examiner offices, OVR staff learned that misunderstandings and misinformation about changing cause of death information continues. No medical examiner or medical certifier has to pay a fee to correct the medical information on a death record.

If the cause of death information on a record is incorrect, the medical certifier who originally provided the cause of death statement or a coroner/medical examiner who has jurisdiction over the county where the death occurred can contact OVR at health.vitalrecords@state.mn.us or call 651-201-5970 to request the Medical Certifier Request to Change Cause of Death form. Funeral homes and families should work directly with the medical certifier if they think medical information should be changed.

Training opportunities

Hospital Birth Registrars

The Office of Vital Records encourages new birth registrars to take Birth Registration 101. The upcoming classes on March 26 and May 7 at the Orville L. Freeman Building in St. Paul have openings. Visit Birth and Fetal Death Registration for Hospital Staff for class and registration information, or go directly to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Learning Center to create a free account and register for a class.

Morticians, Funeral Directors and Staff

Training dates and registration information for Death Registration 101 are at Death Registration Information for Morticians and Staff. Death Registration 101 is the new name for the class formerly known as the Five R's of Death Registration.

In other news...

New MR&C user guides for county vital records staff

The Office of Vital Records updated the MR&C user guides for county vital records staff. The user guides are available at MR&C Information for County Vital Records Offices.

Some of the user guides have new titles and new file names. All of the user guides carry the Minnesota Department of Health brand.

If you have questions about these guides, please contact Heidi Granlund at heidi.granlund@state.mn.us.


Discontinue Report of Multiple Birth Certificates Issued

Educate consumers to discourage orders for multiple copies of the same birth certificate.

Starting February 11:

  • Encourage customers to buy only the number of birth certificates they really need
  • Tell customers to keep their certificates safe to protect against fraud and identity theft
  • Do not report orders for four or more birth certificates for the same subject in the same transaction to the Office of Vital Records
  • Do not fill out the Report of Multiple Birth Certificates Issued form
  • Destroy paper copies of the Report of Multiple Birth Certificates Issued form

For more information, see What's New? on the Information for County Vital Records Offices webpage.

Maternal Mortality

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released maternal mortality statistics for 2018, an extensive review of data quality, and new coding procedures for death certificates based on this review. See Maternal Mortality for a wealth of information.

Contact the Office of Vital Records