Policy Governing Sacramental Records & Certificates
This policy governs the recording of sacraments and the issuing of sacramental certificates in the Archdiocese of Miami, supplementing the general norms found in the Code of Canon Law and the Pastoral Manual of the Archdiocese of Miami. It also serves as a guide to those who are seeking a sacramental certificate for themselves or their child. This policy should be read carefully before contacting a parish or mission or the Archdiocese of Miami to request a sacramental certificate.
Roman Catholics have a right to receive their sacramental certificates whenever they legitimately request them. When preparing for the sacrament of Matrimony, for example, the parties are required to present a recently issued baptismal certificate. Every effort is made to fulfill these requests in a timely manner.
Given the important nature of the information in sacramental registries, pastors have a special obligation to ensure that sacramental records are accurate and carefully preserved. Special care must also be taken to safeguard the personal and private information contained in sacramental records. Sacramental certificates will only be issued to those who legitimately request them.
Recording of Sacraments
The reception of the sacraments is recorded in the parish or mission where the sacrament was received. Whenever a sacrament is legitimately administered outside a church building (e.g., an emergency baptism in a hospital), it is recorded in the local territorial parish where the sacrament was celebrated. The pastor is to see to it that the sacramental registers are accurately recorded and carefully preserved (cf. c. 535). Sacramental records are kept permanently at the parish or mission.
Requesting a Sacramental Certificate
Sacramental certificates are issued by the pastor of the parish or mission where the sacrament is recorded. Requests for sacramental certificates are to be made by contacting the parish or mission directly. To view a list of the parishes and missions in the Archdiocese of Miami and their contact information Click here.
Only the person who received the sacrament or the parent or legal guardian of a minor child may request a sacramental certificate. Certificates are not issued to third parties. Requests are made of the parish or mission either in person (after presenting a government-issued photo identification) or by a signed letter. Requests are not accepted by phone. Certificates are not issued for genealogical purposes.
The sacramental records from merged parishes and missions are retained at the receiving parish. The pastor of the receiving parish issues the sacramental records. The following table lists the parishes and missions involved:
Searching for Sacramental Records
If the specific parish or mission where the sacrament was conferred is not known or the pastor cannot find the record, the Chancellor will undertake a search. The person requesting the sacramental certificate is to complete a Sacramental Records Release Request (found here) and send it to the Chancellor. Requests are not accepted by phone.
Every effort should be made to provide as much information as possible. This will increase the chances of a successful and timely search. Parents, godparents and/or sponsors – especially in the case of baptism or confirmation – should be consulted to obtain as much information as possible before sending the written request. Even supplying a photograph which shows the interior of the church can help identify where the baptism took place. Complete information leads to a quicker and more successful search.
A minimum of two months should be allowed to conduct the search and obtain the requested sacramental certificate. If the search was unsuccessful, the Chancellor will send a written reply with further instructions.
There is no fee to obtain a sacramental certificate, either directly from the parish or mission or with the assistance of the Chancellor’s office. However, due to administrative expenses, a donation of $25.00 is welcome.
Changing the Sacramental Record
Any request to correct or otherwise amend a sacramental record must be submitted in writing to the pastor by the individual who received the sacrament or, in the case of a minor, by his/her custodial parent or legal guardian. Original or certified copies of relevant civil documents (e.g. birth certificate, final decree of adoption, etc.) must accompany this and will be returned. Except for a custodial parent in the case of minors or other legal guardians,
a third party may not request the change of a person’s sacramental record.
Since part of their role is to serve as a witness of the fact that the sacrament was received, godparents or sponsors cannot be removed from the sacramental record. However, in the judgment of the pastor and for a truly serious reason (e.g. death of the godparent, his/her rejection of the Catholic faith, etc.) another suitable Catholic can be substituted to fulfill the duties of the godparent or sponsor. In the case of a minor, this request is made in writing
to the pastor by the parents (or at least the custodial parent). With the approval of the Chancellor, the additional godparent or sponsor is added to the sacramental register and can be noted on the sacramental certificate.
The pastor must obtain the written permission of the Chancellor before any change is made to the sacramental records of the parish. All subsequent sacramental certificates will reflect the approved changes. A minimum of three weeks should be allowed to obtain the amended certificate from the date the original written request was received by the pastor.
There is no fee to amend or otherwise correct a sacramental record. However, due to administrative expenses, a donation of $10.00 is welcome.
In a decree dated March 15, 2010, Archbishop John C. Favalora established this Policy as particular law in the Archdiocese of Miami.