How to Request a Copy of a Panama Canal Zone Birth or Death Certificate

Vital Records Office Operations

Due to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should expect delays processing your request for vital record services.  It may take us 3-4 months to process your request from the date we receive it.  Please consider waiting to mail your request until we resume normal operations.

Our team has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and we are experiencing extremely high call volumes. We are working to safely add resources to make sure we answer your inquiries and address new and pending cases as quickly as possible. 

Status Updates: It may take up to 4 weeks from the day you apply until your application status is “In Process".

We issue birth and death records for the Panama Canal Zone issued between February 26, 1904 and September 30, 1979.

Who can request a copy of a Panama Canal Zone birth or death certificate:

  • The individual recorded on the document 
  • A legal guardian of the individual whose birth is recorded on the document
  • An authorized government agency or
  • A person with notarized written authorization from the individual listed on the certificate 

Please note: The Panama Canal Commission maintained the birth records of persons born in the Panama Canal Zone between February 26, 1904 and September 30, 1979.  In December 1999, the Commission transferred those records to the U.S. Department of State.  You can request birth and death records for the Panama Canal Zone issued between February 26, 1904 and September 30, 1979.

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Panama Canal Zone Birth Certificate Requests

To request a copy of a Panama Canal Zone Birth Certificate, you must submit:

1. Submit a notarized letter that includes all of the following information:

  • Your full name at birth (include first, middle, and last name)
  • All other names you’ve used (examples: your adopted name or a court-ordered name change)
  • Your date of birth (Month Date, Year) and place of birth (City, Country)
  • Full names of parent(s) or legal guardians (include first, last, and middle names)
  • Parent(s)’ dates of birth (Month Date, Year) and places of birth (City, Country)
  • Your signature. Note: if someone else is requesting your record, we also need their signature.
  • The mailing address where you want the record sent
  • Your phone number. Note: if someone else is requesting your record, we need their phone number.
  • Your email address. Note: if someone else is requesting your record, we need their email address.

2. Submit a copy of your valid identification

A copy of your valid photo ID. Examples:

  • State-issued driver’s license
  • Non-driver photo ID
  • Military ID
  • Passport
  • Veterans Affairs ID
  • Prison ID

If you don't have any of these IDs, please see Passport Vital Records IDs.

3. Send a $50.00 check or money order. Additional copies are $50.00 each.

  • Make payable to the "U.S. Department of State"
  • Include a complete mailing address on the check.
  • Checks and money orders must be payable in U.S. dollars through a U.S. bank
  • The Department is not responsible for cash lost in the mail.

4. Mail the notarized request, copy of valid ID, and check to:

U.S. Department of State
Passports Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213

Note: Avoid delays by notarizing your request and including a copy of your valid photo identification.

Processing Times

Due to limited staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should expect to receive your document in 3 to 4 months. Some documents may take longer than 16 weeks due to nationwide shipping delays. Because of the unique nature of our records, we cannot provide expedited service. We can only provide official copies of records that are on file with the U.S. Department of State.

As additional employees return to our office, we are working aggressively to address all pending requests. You will continue to experience delays receiving certified vital records and the return of any original documents submitted. You may check the status of your request by emailing VitalRecordsPublicInquiries@state.gov or by calling 202-485-8300.

Shipping

We will send your vital record to you. You can select First Class Mail or 1-2 Day Delivery:

  • USPS First Class Mail: Takes one to two weeks. No additional charge. 
  • 1-2 Day Delivery Service: Add $17.56 to the $50.00 check or money order.
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Panama Canal Zone Death Certificate Requests

To request a copy of a Panama Canal Zone Death Certificate, you must submit:

1. Submit a notarized letter that includes all of the following information:

  • Full name of deceased individual (include first, middle, and last name)
  • Date of death (Month Date, Year) and place of death (City, Country)
  • Your signature
  • The mailing address where you want the record sent
  • Your contact number
  • Your email address

2. Submit a copy of your valid identification

3. Send a $50.00 check or money order. Additional copies are $50.00 each.

  • Make payable to the "U.S. Department of State"
  • Include a complete mailing address on the check.
  • Checks and money orders must be payable in U.S. dollars through a U.S. bank
  • The Department is not responsible for cash lost in the mail.

4. Mail the notarized request, copy of valid ID, and check to:

U.S. Department of State
Passports Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir. 
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213

Note: Avoid delays by notarizing your request and including a copy of your valid photo identification.

Processing Times

Due to limited staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should expect to receive your document in 3 to 4 months. Some documents may take longer than 16 weeks due to nationwide shipping delays. Because of the unique nature of our records, we cannot provide expedited service. We can only provide official copies of records that are on file with the U.S. Department of State.

As additional employees return to our office, we are working aggressively to address all pending requests. You will continue to experience delays receiving certified vital records and the return of any original documents submitted. You may check the status of your request by emailing VitalRecordsPublicInquiries@state.gov or by calling 202-485-8300.

Shipping

We will send your vital record to you. You can select First Class Mail or 1-2 Day Delivery:

  • USPS First Class Mail: Takes one to two weeks. No additional charge. 
  • 1-2 Day Delivery Service: Add $17.56 to the $50.00 check or money order. 
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Can I authorize someone to request my record?

Yes. He or she must be a family member or friend who has known you for at least five years. We need the following information:

Your signed, written authorization. For example: I, state your name, hereby authorize John Doe to request my Panama Canal Zone Birth Certificate on my behalf.

  • A photocopy of two of your secondary IDs. 
  • A notarized statement from the person who is requesting your records
  • A copy of the valid primary photo ID of the person making the request
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How to Request an Apostille on Your Panama Canal Zone Birth and/or Death Certificates

Apostilles are specialized certificates attached to your consular documents. If you need an apostille to satisfy foreign document requirements, you must submit a notarized request which states the foreign country the apostille is needed for and a copy of a valid state-issued ID (e.g. driver's license) to the address listed below. Apostilles can only be attached to Panama Canal Zone Birth Certificates and Panama Canal Zone Death Certificates that were issued in the last five years.

If you already have a consular document issued within the last five years, you don't need to pay for the apostille. If your consular document was issued more than five years ago, you must submit a request for a new Panama Canal Zone Birth or Death Certificate.

In addition to Panama Canal Zone Birth and Death Certificates, you can request other consular documents for $50 per copy:

You must ensure that the country for intended use is a member of the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.  

Please send your notarized request and fee (if necessary) to:

    U.S. Department of State
    Passport Vital Records Section
    44132 Mercure Circle
    PO Box 1213
    Sterling, VA 20166-1213