How to Get a Death Certificate

How to Get a Death Certificate After A Death

If you’re wondering how to get a death certificate and how many copies you need, this article is for you. Not every one of us knows the paperwork process of getting the proper documentation for a death certificate, especially when dealing with out-of-country issues.

The certified copy of the death certificate is issued by the State vital statistics office in the state or area where the death occurred. The registrar will acknowledge that a person has died on a specific date and record the location of the death and the cause of death.

A death certificate is a vital document required for funeral arrangements, medical benefits, estate settlements, life insurance benefits, and claiming social security survivor benefits. Most of the time death certificate is used as proof for legal purposes.

This article will explore the different ways to get a death certificate that you can use for your records or handle the deceased’s personal affairs.

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WHAT IS A DEATH CERTIFICATE?

A death certificate is an official, government-issued document issued at the time of a person’s death, which states detailed information about the deceased. It indicates the time of death, location and cause of death, and additional personal information.

A death certificate should be on file in the state where the death occurred. These death records are permanently kept on file by the State vital statistics office or city office.

A certified death certificate is a stamped document that is generally issued by the state vital statistic office, vital record agencies, or government-approved third-party agencies. It serves as proof that someone has died and can be used for various purposes, including closing bank and investment accounts, claiming life insurance, burial insurance, final expense insurance benefits, transferring land titles, and claiming social security survivor benefits.

Generally, your funeral director will request copies of death certificates for you. It is necessary for making funeral arrangements and taking care of the personal business of the deceased. For many people, the ten copies of the death certificate are enough for completing the necessary paperwork and other purposes.


DEATH CERTIFICATE INFORMATION

Every death certificate contains essential information about the deceased. What is listed on a death certificate? Details may be different depending on the state, but if often include the following:

  • Full name
  • Birthday and birthplace
  • Complete address
  • Name of the father and birthplace
  • Mother’s maiden name and place of birth
  • Marital status
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Education
  • Veteran’s discharge or claim number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date, time, and place of death
  • Cause of death


WHO CAN FILE A DEATH CERTIFICATE?

Any person processing the deceased remains, such as the funeral home, crematory, or the police, can file and prepare the death certificate. Death certificate preparation involves obtaining all information from the family and getting the signature of a paramedic, doctor, coroner, or medical examiner.

According to the law of the state, the process should be completed immediately – within 3-10 days where the death occurred.


WHO CAN REQUEST A DEATH CERTIFICATE?

You can easily get a certified death certificate in most states. Certified copies of death certificates have an official stamp that can be used to accomplish many things after death. It can be used to get a permit for cremation or burial and transfer the deceased’s property to inheritors.

Informational copies of death certificates for personal records are usually available to anyone who requests them. However, certified copies of death certificates are only available to the immediate family of the deceased, the estate executor, or anyone who has proof of interest in the estate in most states.

The following people can request death certificates:

  • Father or mother of a person named on the certificate
  • Sister or brother 
  • Husband or wife
  • Son or daughter
  • Grandchildren
  • A legal representative of the family
  • Estate executor
  • The informant who provided information on the death certificate


GETTING A DEATH CERTIFICATE

There are different ways you can get certified copies of the death certificate:

  1. You can request the copies yourself from the state where the person died.
  2. Request a copy from the funeral home; most of them include this service in their funeral package.
  3. You can request certified copies of the death certificate from a third-party agency.

The easiest method of getting a certified copy of the death certificate was requesting a copy from the funeral director or crematory when the death occurred. You should order at least 10 copies if you’re the one getting the deceased legal affairs in order.

You need a certified copy when you get benefits or property such as life or burial insurance proceeds, POD accounts, veteran’s benefits, Social Security, and other benefits.

If you need death certificates after the burial or cremation, you should request death certificates by yourself. Contact the County Recorder’s Office or Local Health Department in the county or state where the person died and request certified copies of the death certificate directly.

If you need a death certificate after a month when the death occurred, you could request a copy from the local health department or county office because they have copies of death certificates on file. After a few months, the state office will have a copy.

You can also obtain certified copies by visiting the State’s Vital Records office. Go to the Centers for Disease Control website to find the State office for Vital Records, their contact information, and application requirements for each state.

You will need to pay for every certified copy of the death certificate. Each copy cost differs by state, but you may pay between $10 and-25 for the first copy. Additional copies will cost less. If you perform as the state executor and pay the copies of death certificates, the estate can reimburse your cost later.


SUBMITTING YOUR REQUEST FOR A DEATH CERTIFICATE

  1. In-person – walk-in service is available at your State Vital Statistics office or county health department. The copies of the death certificate can be issued while you wait.
  • By mail – Download the Mail-in application. Send the completed application form and appropriate fee to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where the death happened.
  • By Fax – Download the Main-in application. You may fax your completed application form to your State Vital Statistics office.
  • Online – How can I get a death certificate online? You can submit your request through the Vital Records website or through a third-party provider called VitalCheck using a credit card.

To locate the Vital Statistics office in your area, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and click the link of the state where the death occurred.

All requests must include a copy of the government-issued picture ID with the signature of the person requesting the copy. For all death certificate requests, make a check or money order payable to the State Vital Statistics office or State Board of Health in the correct amount for the number of copies requested.

The cost of obtaining a death certificate is $15.00 – $25.00, and it includes one copy of the certified death certificate or a “Certificate of Failure to Find.” The fee for each additional copy of the certificate ordered at the same time is $6.00. Only Checks or Money Orders are accepted. Cash is not accepted, and fees are not refundable.

Sending cash payments is not recommended because the office cannot refund money lost in transit. All fees are subject to change. That’s why a telephone number has been included in the information for each state for use in verifying the current fee.

Here is the information needed to obtain a death certificate:

  • Full name of the deceased person whose record is requested
  • Sex
  • Fathers name
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Month, day, and year of birth
  • Month, day, and year of death
  • Place of birth and death (city or town, county, and state; and name of the hospital, if known)
  • Name of spouse
  • Social Security number
  • The purpose of requesting a death certificate
  • Relationship to the deceased person whose record is requested
  • Day time telephone number with area code
  • Address where the death certificate will be mailed (for mail request)


TIPS ON GETTING DEATH CERTIFICATES THROUGH MAIL

You can write the Vital Statistics Office in the state where the death occurred to get a copy. Here are some tips to ensure that you will receive an accurate copy and that your request will be filled with due speed:

  1. Make your letter concise and to the point.
  2. Make one request at a time.
  3. Avoid writing confusing details of your family relationship.
  4. Type or print all names and addresses in your letter.
  5. Provide complete information, including all names that may have been used, including alternate spellings.
  6. List accurate dates. If you don’t know the exact dates, specify the span of years you want to search and be prepared to pay for this type of search.
  7. Provide a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope
  8. Exercise patience and courtesy because most county offices have limited personnel.


REQUESTING DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR DEATH THAT OCCURRED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

If the death of a U.S. citizen is reported to the U.S. consular officer, the consul prepares the official death report, and a copy of the death certificate can be acquired through the U.S. Department of State.

To request a copy of the death certificate, you can submit a notarized request with a picture ID of the person requesting a copy to:

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

The fee for a copy of the death certificate is $50.00 per document. Please note that the fee may be subject to change.

Reports of Death filed before 1975 can be obtained through the National Archives and Records Service, Diplomatic Records Branch in Washington DC 20408. You can make your request directly to their office.

The U.S. Department of State does not have reports of the death of people serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, including the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy, or the civilian employees of the Department of Defense. In these cases, you can address your request to the National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records located at 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100.

Who may request a copy of a Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRDA)?

  • Father or mother
  • Sister or brother 
  • Husband or wife
  • Son or daughter
  • Grandchildren
  • Legal representative for estate purposes


HOW TO REQUEST A DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR A DEATH THAT OCCURRED ABROAD

To request a copy, you can contact the Embassy of the nearest Consulate office in the U.S. of the country where the death occurred. You can get these offices’ addresses and telephone numbers in the U.S. Department of State Publication 7846, Foreign Consular Offices. The contact information is also available in many local libraries.

If the foreign Embassy or Consulate is unable to provide assistance, you can write to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4818.

1. Submit a written notarized request that shows the following information:

  • Full name of the deceased
  • Month, day, year of death
  • Place of death
  • Return the address and telephone number of the requester
  • Signature of the requester

2. Submit a copy of the requester’s valid ID with a photo and signature.

3. Send a $50.00 check or money order for one copy of the death certificate. Additional copies cost $50.00 each. The check or money order must be payable to the U.S. Department of State. Include your complete mailing address on the back of the check. Do not send cash because the Department is not responsible for any money lost in the mail.

4. Mail the notarized written request, copy of photo ID, and payment to:

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

Call 202-485-8300 to check the status of your request.

Note:

  • To avoid delay, do not send an unnotarized copy of the request. Make sure to include a copy of the requester’s valid ID.
  • If you want, the death certificate will be returned to you in 1 to 2 days, including an additional $16.48 money order or check to USPS delivery.


CAN YOU GET A DEATH CERTIFICATE ONLINE FOR FREE?

Yes. It is possible to obtain a copy online. Several providers, such as SearchQuarry, provide death records online. However, these copies are not considered official vital records.

If you need a certified copy to get benefits or to settle an estate, you need to get a copy from the State Vital Statistics or Local Health Department office where the death took place. Going directly to the vital statistics office is the most convenient and fastest way to get certified copies of the death certificate.

If, for some reason, you’re unable to go to any vital statistics office, VitalCheck is an online authorized third-party provider that can get you the vital records you need quickly and securely.


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ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ON HOW TO GET A DEATH CERTIFICATE

What is recorded on a death certificate?

In the United States, a standard death certificate typically includes:

  1. The decedent’s full name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Gender
  4. Race
  5. Marital status at the time of death
  6. State or country of birth
  7. Date of death
  8. City and state of death
  9. Place of death (hospital, home, etc.)
  10. The immediate cause of death


Who is responsible for signing a death certificate?

The attending physician or medical examiner signs the death certificate in most cases. If someone other than the attending physician pronounced the death, that person might also sign the death certificate.


How do I get a copy of a death certificate?

Death certificates are typically available through the vital records office in the state where the death occurred. You can usually request copies in person, by mail, or online. Some states may require you to show proof of your relationship to the decedent before they will release a copy of the death certificate.


What do I need to provide to get a copy of a death certificate?

The specific information and documentation needed to request a death certificate vary by state, but you will typically need to provide:

  • The decedent’s full name and date of death
  • Your relationship with the decedent
  • Your contact information
  • Payment for the certificate fee
  • You may also need to provide a copy of your photo ID in some cases.


How do I get a certified copy of a death certificate?

A certified copy of a death certificate is an official copy that can be used for legal purposes. The process for getting a certified copy varies by state, but you will typically need to make the request in person or by mail. You will likely need to provide proof of your relationship to the decedent and pay a fee for the certified copy.


How long does it take to get a death certificate?

The time it takes to receive a death certificate varies by state. In some states, you can get an expedited copy of the death certificate if you need it for immediate legal or financial purposes.


What is the difference between a certified and non-certified copy of a death certificate?

A certified copy of a death certificate is an official copy that can be used for legal purposes. A non-certified copy is a basic copy of the death certificate that does not have the same legal weight as a certified copy.


How much is a death certificate in the USA?

Fees for death certificates vary by state, but they typically range from $10 to $25. Some states offer discounts for ordering multiple copies of the same death certificate.


Why do I need a death certificate?

A death certificate is an important legal document that is used to prove that someone has died. The death certificate can be used for a variety of purposes, including settling the decedent’s estate, claiming life insurance benefits, and transferring property ownership.


When should I get a death certificate?

You should get a death certificate as soon as possible after the death occurs. The process of getting a death certificate can take several weeks, so it’s important to request one as soon as you can.


How many copies of a death certificate do I need?

The number of copies of a death certificate you need will depend on your specific circumstances. You may need multiple copies for legal or financial purposes, or you may only need one copy for your records.


Where can I get a death certificate?

Death certificates are typically available through the vital records office in the state where the death occurred. You can usually request copies in person, by mail, or online. Some states may require you to show proof of your relationship to the decedent before they will release a copy of the death certificate.


Is a death certificate public record?

Death certificates are public records in most states. This means that anyone can request a copy of the death certificate, although some states may require you to show proof of your relationship to the decedent.


Who can obtain a death certificate?

Death certificates are typically available to immediate family members, legal representatives, and anyone with a legitimate reason for needing the certificate. Some states may require you to show proof of your relationship to the decedent before they will release a copy of the death certificate.


Where can I get a copy of the death certificate?

You can get a copy of the death certificate from the vital records office in the state where the death occurred. You can usually request copies in person, by mail, or online.


Who issues death certificates?

Death certificates are issued by the vital records office in the state where the death occurred.


What are the requirements for late registration of a death certificate?

The requirements for late registration of a death certificate vary by state. In some states, you must provide an acceptable reason for the delay in order to get a death certificate.


What is the penalty for late registration of the death certificate?

The penalty for late registration of a death certificate varies by state. In some states, you may have to pay a late fee.


How do I get a death certificate if I am out of state?

If you are out of state, you can usually request a copy of the death certificate from the vital records office in the state where the death occurred. You can usually request copies in person, by mail, or online.


How do I file late registration of death certificate?

The process for filing late registration of death certificates varies by state. In some states, you must provide an acceptable reason for the delay in order to get a death certificate.


Is the cause of death public record?

The cause of death is typically not a public record. However, the manner of death (such as homicide, suicide, or natural causes) may be noted on the death certificate and is considered a public record.


How long does it take to get a certified copy of a death certificate?

The process of getting a death certificate can take several weeks. It is important to request one as soon as possible.


What do I need to get a death certificate?

In order to get a death certificate, you will need the full name, date of birth, and Social Security number of the decedent. You will also need the date and place of death and the name and address of the funeral home.


Is Vital Chek legit?

Vital Chek is a legitimate company that provides a convenient way to order death certificates from the comfort of your own home. However, it is important to note that there are some scams associated with ordering death certificates online, so be sure to do your research before ordering from any company.


How long does it take to get a death certificate after a post-mortem?

It can take several weeks to get a death certificate after a post-mortem. The process can be expedited if the family requests a rush on orders.


Is there a fee for getting a death certificate?

The fee for getting a death certificate varies by state. In some states, the fee is $13 for the first copy and $11 for each additional copy. Discounts are available for ordering multiple copies of the same death certificate.


Can the hospital hold a death certificate?

The hospital can hold a death certificate for up to 10 days after the date of death. After that, it must be forwarded to the vital records office in the state where the death occurred.


Is Quick vital certificates legit?

Quick vital certificates is a legitimate company that provides a convenient way to order death certificates from the comfort of your own home. However, it is important to note that there are some scams associated with ordering death certificates online, so be sure to do your research before ordering from any company.


Is vital records USA legitimate?

Vital Records USA is a legitimate company that provides a convenient way to order death certificates from the comfort of your own home. However, it is important to note that there are some scams associated with ordering death certificates online, so be sure to do your research before ordering from any company.


Can I get a copy of my mother’s death certificate?

Yes, you can get a copy of your mother’s death certificate from the vital records office in the state where she died. You will need to provide her full name, date of birth, and Social Security number.


Who is responsible for signing a death certificate?

The attending physician or medical examiner is responsible for signing a death certificate.


Are death records public in the US?

Death records are public in the United States.


How long does it take to get a death certificate from the coroner?

It can take several weeks to get a death certificate from the coroner. The process can be expedited if the family requests a rush on orders.


Can I view US death certificates online for free?

No, you cannot view US death certificates online for free. However, you can order them from the vital records office in the state where the death occurred.


What is the difference between a death certificate and a death record?

A death certificate is a document that states the cause of death and other important information about the decedent. A death record is a document that contains the same information as a death certificate but also includes additional information such as the decedent’s birthdate, place of birth, and parent’s names.


When should a death certificate be registered?

A death certificate should be registered as soon as possible after the death has occurred.

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