How to Obtain Death Certificates

A death certificate is issued by local authorities when a person dies. It serves as evidence that someone has died and is needed for various purposes, including: claiming life insurance benefits, closing bank and investment accounts, transferring titles, and claiming social security survivor benefits.

Generally, your funeral home will request copies of Death Certificates for you.

A certificate of death should be on file in the governing locality where the death occurred. Death records are kept permanently on file either in a State vital statistics office or a city / county office. The Federal Government does not maintain death records.

You may be able to obtain copies of the death certificate by visiting the local office where the death occurred, such as the County Recorder’s Office or Local Health Department. Your other option is to apply to the State’s Vital Records office. To find the State office for Vital Records, go the Centers for Disease Control website for contact information and application requirements for each State.

You will need the following information when applying for a copy of a Death Certificate:

  1. Full name of the deceased person whose record is being requested.
  2. Sex of the deceased.
  3. Parents’ names, including mother’s maiden name.
  4. Month, day and year of birth.
  5. Month, day and year of death.
  6. Place of birth or death (city, county, state; and hospital name if known.
  7. Reason for requesting copies of the Death Certificate.
  8. Applicant’s relationship to the deceased.

A small fee is charged for copies of Death Certificates. Sometimes you can get copies quickly by paying an expedite fee.

See related topics:

Funeral Planning Steps
Who to Call When Someone Dies
Deceased Transportation
Making Funeral Arrangements
Selecting Funeral Products
Making Cemetery Arrangements
Third Party Services
Paying Funeral Costs
Estate, Financial and Administrative Matters
Claiming Death Benefits
Obtaining Death Certificates

Go to Funeral Guide — Index of Topics.