Obtaining a copy of a death record is a fairlysimple and straightforward process. Deathrecords must be obtained through your state orlocal vital records office, as there is currently nonational database for retrieving such records.However, there are certain conditions that mustbe met before you can obtain a copy of a deathrecord.
Who can Obtain a Death Record?Most local and state vital records offices haveclear rules on obtaining death records. In fact,most state agencies will only release a deathrecord for an individual who can prove to be adirect-line descendant of the person inquestion. A direct-line descendant is thespouse, parent or child of the deceased.
Other persons who are eligible to receive acopy of a death record are those who havedocumented lawful right or claim, adocumented medical need, or a court orderhanded down from a state court.
In order to request a copy of a deathrecord, the person in question mustprovide proof of their relationship to thedeceased.
The vital records office will then likely request aphoto ID, such as a passport or a driver’s licenses,as well as two other letters or statements thatshow the applicant’s current name and address.Often times, the vital records office will acceptsuch documentation as a utility bill or letter froma governmental agency.
Although each state will have its own set ofrules regarding the release of death records,the above information is generallycommonplace.
Are There any Exceptions?For individuals interested in searching fordeath records for genealogy purposes,the process of obtaining a death record isnot quite that complicated.
However, most state and local vital recordsoffices will only release death records if theindividual has been deceased for at least 50years (this time frame may vary slightly fromstate to state). At this point, you can receivedeath certificates for genealogy purposes.
Most vital records offices will require that you requestthe death certificate in writing, and that you provide agood deal of information to facilitate the search. Be asaccurate as possible when requesting the deathcertificate, and if you don’t know exact dates andlocations, you can estimate. For example, if you don’tknow the exact date of the individual’s death, you canprovide a span of years to the vital records office toguide them in their search.
Some of the information you may be asked toprovide includes: the date of request, the fullname of the deceased, the sex of the person, thedate of death, the city and/or town of death, yourrelationship to the deceased, the purpose of yourrequest, and your contact information. The vitalrecords office will also ask you to pay a small feeto cover administrative costs.
Online ResourcesThere are many websites that may be able tohelp you in your search for death records.They can provide you with the properinformation and can greatly facilitate theprocess so you can receive your death recordsin a reasonable amount of time.