How to Request a Death Certificate: A Comprehensive State-by-State Guide

Dealing with the loss of a loved one often involves several administrative tasks, one of which includes obtaining a death certificate. This official document, issued by a local authority, is crucial for several reasons such as settling estates, claiming life insurance, and other legal purposes. In this guide, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process to request a death certificate.

Understanding the Death Certificate

A death certificate is a crucial legal document that officially confirms and records the date, location, and cause of a person's death. This certificate is typically issued by a local authority or government agency, such as a health department or the registrar of vital statistics.

The death certificate serves several important functions:

1. Legal Proof of Death: A death certificate is the official proof of death, making it a necessary document for various legal processes following a person's death.

2. Settling Estates: In order to close accounts, distribute assets, and execute the deceased person's will, the executor or administrator of the estate typically must provide a death certificate.

3. Claiming Insurance Benefits: Insurance companies, including life and auto insurers, usually require a death certificate before they can process a claim or payout on a policy.

4. Applying for Survivor Benefits: Government agencies may require a death certificate when a surviving spouse or child applies for benefits such as Social Security or veterans' survivor benefits.

5. Marital Status: For the surviving spouse, a death certificate provides the legal documentation needed to prove their marital status, allowing them to remarry in the future if they choose to do so.

6. Genealogical Research: For family members and genealogists researching family history, death certificates provide a wealth of information. They often contain information about the deceased person's parents and spouse, as well as the cause of death and burial location.

7. Public Health Statistics: On a broader level, health departments use death certificates to track health data. Information about causes of death helps public health officials understand trends and health issues in their communities.

8. Closure: On a personal and emotional level, a death certificate can also provide closure for grieving family members and loved ones, affirming the reality of the death.

Obtaining a death certificate following a death can seem like a daunting task, especially during a time of grief. However, it is a necessary step that enables legal, financial, and personal processes to move forward.

Steps to Request a Death Certificate

The process for obtaining a death certificate can vary depending on the state or country, but the general steps usually include the following:

1. Identify the Appropriate Vital Records Office: Determine which state or local office handles death records in the area where the death occurred.

2. Prepare the Necessary Information: You'll need to provide certain information about the deceased, such as their full name, date and place of birth, and date and place of death.

3. Complete the Death Certificate Application: Each jurisdiction typically has a specific application form that needs to be completed. We provide a link for each state below.

4. Submit Proof of Relationship or Legal Interest: You may need to prove that you're a relative of the deceased or demonstrate a legal need for the death certificate.

5. Pay the Application Fee: Most vital records offices charge a fee for issuing a copy of the death certificate.

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Requesting a Death Certificate Online, select your state

  1. Alabama - Alabama Department of Public Health
  2. Alaska - Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
  3. Arizona - Arizona Department of Health Services
  4. Arkansas - Arkansas Department of Health
  5. California - California Department of Public Health
  6. Colorado - Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
  7. Connecticut - Connecticut Department of Public Health
  8. Delaware - Delaware Health and Social Services
  9. Florida - Florida Health
  10. Georgia - Georgia Department of Public Health
  11. Hawaii - Hawaii Department of Health
  12. Idaho - Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
  13. Illinois - Illinois Department of Public Health
  14. Indiana - Indiana State Department of Health
  15. Iowa - Iowa Department of Public Health
  16. Kansas - Kansas Department of Health and Environment
  17. Kentucky - Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  18. Louisiana - Louisiana Department of Health
  19. Maine - Maine Department of Health and Human Services
  20. Maryland - Maryland Department of Health
  21. Massachusetts - Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  22. Michigan - Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
  23. Minnesota - Minnesota Department of Health
  24. Mississippi - Mississippi State Department of Health
  25. Missouri - Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services
  26. Montana - Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
  27. Nebraska - Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
  28. Nevada - Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
  29. New Hampshire - New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
  30. New Jersey - New Jersey Department of Health
  31. New Mexico - New Mexico Department of Health
  32. New York - New York State Department of Health
  33. North Carolina - North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  34. North Dakota - North Dakota Department of Health
  35. Ohio - Ohio Department of Health
  36. Oklahoma - Oklahoma State Department of Health
  37. Oregon - Oregon Health Authority
  38. Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Department of Health
  39. Rhode Island - Rhode Island Department of Health
  40. South Carolina - South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
  41. South Dakota - South Dakota Department of Health
  42. Tennessee - Tennessee Department of Health
  43. Texas - Texas Department of State Health Services
  44. Utah - Utah Department of Health
  45. Vermont - Vermont Department of Health
  46. Virginia - Virginia Department of Health
  47. Washington - Washington State Department of Health
  48. West Virginia - West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
  49. Wisconsin - Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  50. Wyoming - Wyoming Department of Health


Obtaining a death certificate can seem like a daunting task, but understanding the process can make it easier to manage during a challenging time. Remember to reach out to your local vital records office or use a trusted online service, like VitalCheck, for accurate and timely assistance.

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