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How Do I Get a Death Certificate?

Mourners at a funeral.
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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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The procedure to get a death certificate depends on the location. Each place has its own procedures, forms and information needed to get a death certificate. Many places require some of the same items, such as information on whether you qualify for a certificate with cause of death, information about the person requesting the certificate, information about the person named on the certificate, type of certificate needed and payment for the certificate.

Most places, because of privacy laws, have limitations on who can get a death certificate that names the cause of death. In general, a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings are the only people who can request a death certificate that includes the cause of death. Other people can still request a death certificate, but it will not list the cause of death. Some localities, after a certain number of years have passed and any privacy laws no longer apply, allow members of the general public to get a death certificate that lists the cause of death.

When requesting a death certificate, you likely will need to fill out a form listing your personal information. This is generally basic information such as your name, address and the reason for your request. In addition to your personal information, you will be asked to provide information about the person named on the death certificate. You might need the person’s name, place of death and date of death.

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Part of the form that you will fill out might ask for the type of death certificate needed. You generally will have two choices for the type of certificate. One might be some type of certified copy, and the other might be a regular copy. There might be a price difference between the various copies, so it is important to know which type of certificate you need before ordering one.

Most places will require payment in order to get a death certificate. This is usually a very nominal fee that is used to cover copying and shipping costs. If you mail the request, you will generally be asked to mail a check or money order to pay the fee. As previously mentioned, it is important to know what type of certificate you need so that you can avoid paying for more than one certificate if the wrong one is initially requested. You might also be asked to include a copy of your photo identification, such as a driver’s license or military ID, to ensure that you are the proper person requesting the death certificate.

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