How to Get a Death Certificate Copy Online

Death Certificates How to Get a Death Certificate Copy Online

How to Obtain a Death Certificate

When a loved one passes, there is much to do in order to settle their affairs. A copy of the death certificate is critical for many of these tasks.

The purpose of a death certificate is to serve as legal proof of death. Banks, life insurance policies, 401k and pension accounts, and government agencies all require a copy of the death certificate to close the account or pay benefits. 

The funeral home handling your loved one's arrangements will get copies—usually 10—for you. Although this seems like a lot, you may need to get more copies as you work to settle the estate. 

Which Type of Death Certificate Copy Do I Need?

A death certificate is a legal document that confirms someone is deceased. In the US, there are two types of certificates: certified and non-certified.

Authorized Death Certificate Copies (Certified)Authorized copies of a death certificate are certified copies that have an official stamp and a signature from a medical examiner or coroner. Depending upon your state and county requirements, these may need to be notarized. An authorized copy will typically be required in the case of legal matters, such as securing death benefits, filing a life insurance claim, transferring ownership of property, or managing financial assets on behalf of the deceased.
Informational Death Certificate Copies

(non-certified)

Informational copies of a death certificate serve to verify the death of the individual, but cannot be used as a legal form of documentation. These types of copies are typically meant for personal records, however, when you are settling your loved one's affairs, it's worthwhile to check with each company or organization you need to contact to determine whether they need a certified copy or if an informational copy will suffice.

Who Can Get a Death Certificate Copy?

Individual states may have their own rules, but in general, these are the people who can apply for a death certificate:

  • Close relatives—immediate family. Check with your state's Vital Records to find out how far "immediate family" extends.
  • Estate executor—can be an attorney, family member, banker, friend—whomever the deceased chose
  • Inheritor—anyone cited in the will as an heir can request a copy of the death certificate

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Death Certificate Copy in the US?

Fees for a death certificate range from $4 to $30 per copy. If you are ordering several copies, the first is the most expensive by a few dollars. Per the National Cremation Society, every state has a different fee schedule. If you ask Vital Record to mail the copy, you'll also pay postage.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

Although most states require that a death certificate is submitted to the County Health Department within three days, there is processing time before it is ready. Once the certificate is prepared, the time frame for getting a copy ranges from a day or two to a couple of weeks. You can pick one up in person in most states, but before you make a trip, confirm that they allow walk-ins during Covid.

The processing time is consistent, regardless of the age of the deceased—a genealogical search will take just as long as a recent passing.

What Documents Do You Need?

You'll need to prove that you have a legitimate reason for requesting the copy. Here's the documentation and information that are acceptable in most states.

  • Current photo ID with a signature
  • Full name, sex, date and location of death (county or parish) of the deceased
  • Full legal names of the deceased parents, including mother's maiden name
  • Your reason for requesting a copy, with proper documentation
  • Your relationship to the deceased

How To Get a Death Certificate on Your Own

  1. Funeral Home or Mortuary: Death certificates are time-sensitive, and the place to start is at the funeral home. Within a few weeks of the death, ask the funeral home or mortuary for copies. Most mortuaries in the US will provide up to 10 copies free of charge.
  2. County Vital Records: If the funeral home will no longer provide the copies, contact the county or parish Vital Records office. They will have the certificate a few weeks after the death.
  3. State Vital Records: Counties pass the death certificates to state Vital Records after a few months, so they will have records on file if you are making the request several months later. Settling estates can take years, so you can go to the state or county after several months.

How To Get a Death Certificate with DoNotPay

If you want to get a copy of a death certificate but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 7 easy steps:

  1. Go to the Death Certificates product on DoNotPay. 
  2. Enter the details of the person who is on the death certificate, and select/upload evidence that proves your relationship with them. 
  3. Enter the city, state, and hospital (if applicable) the registrant passed away in, so we can complete the correct form. 
  4. Indicate what you will be using this certificate for, and choose whether you need an authorized or certified copy. 
  5. Enter your contact information and shipping address. Upload copies of your government-issued identification, such as a driver's license. 
  6. Choose whether you would like to electronically sign this form or not. Once we generate the form, verify that all of the information is correct. 
  7. If you need the document to be notarized, schedule a notarization appointment using our Notary product. Otherwise, proceed to our Mail Checks product and let DoNotPay mail-in your request form with a check on your behalf. 

Let DoNotPay Take On The Stress

Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult in the best circumstances, and you have enough to deal with without worrying about death certificates. DoNotPay helps you get the copies you need quickly, so you can complete the estate settlement as easily and stress-free as possible. 

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

We are also here for you in happier times. Our state of the art AI can manage your bill paying (if you are an executor, this is a huge help), applying for student aid, and even getting a free trial MasterClass without giving out your credit card info.

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