who can get a death certificate

Who Can Get a Death Certificate?

When it comes to vital records, one of the more unfortunate and sometimes unpleasant reasons someone may require a vital record is the death of a loved one. Just as a birth certificate signifies a new life, a death certificate marks a lost one. While a birth certificate is the first, and most important form of identification an individual will have, a death certificate is important for a variety of legal matters. If you’re in charge of a loved one’s estate, death certificates can be monumental in closing out financial and medical accounts, as well as the handling of certain legal processes. But exactly who can get a death certificate? What if you’re the executor of an estate to someone who has estranged children – or a former spouse who may feel  entitled to part of that estate? We’ve got some  useful information aboutwho is entitled to obtain a death certificate for a deceased individual, and some of the reasons certified copies may be needed. 

Who can get a death certificate?

A death certificate is a government-issued document that officially declares the passing of an individual. Like a birth certificate, a death certificate obtains pertinent information like location and time of death, as well as cause of death and other personal information such as occupation and last known address. When someone dies, the certificate must be signed off on by the medical examiner before it’s submitted to the local vital records office. 

While it varies from state to state, death certificates are not commonly made public. In some states, informational copies of death certificates may be made public but do not typically contain all of the personal information or cause of death. So exactly who can get a copy of a death certificate? The requirements for obtaining someone’s death certificate are pretty straightforward. In most cases, in order to request a certified copy of a death certificate, you will either need to be a legally-appointed executor of the estate, a member of the deceased’s immediate family (spouse, sibling, child or parent), or the funeral director. If you happen to be a named inherent, or other close relative with pertinent cause, it’s best to contact the vital records office in the area where the death occurred for more information.

Why might I need a copy of a death certificate?

There are actually quite a few reasons someone might need an official copy of a death certificate. In fact, it is recommended that if you’re the person handling the estate and matters after a friend or loved one passes, you may want to request 10 or more official copies. If you’re going through a funeral home, the funeral director will be able to assist you in procuring copies of the death records you need. Why do you need so many copies? Well, each account you’re trying to close out will require their own copy. Typically, death certificates are needed to close out financial accounts like bank accounts, IRAs or credit cards just to name a few. They’re also necessary if you were named for any type of inheritance, or to open a life insurance claim. You may need copies to close out rental agreements, utilities or other memberships, and in order to notify government agencies such as Social Security or Veteran’s Affairs. 

If you’re going through the process sans funeral processes, and you’d like to handle ordering certified copies of death records yourself, you can call the vital records office in charge of processing the deceased’s death. For a list of vital records offices across the U.S., you can click here. If you decide to order the copies you need from the convenience of your own home, online ordering is made possible by visiting VitalChek.com. Online ordering may be helpful if you learn you need additional copies, and need them safely and quickly delivered!


  1. How can I check an order place 2 weeks ago? I called your 866-203-2777 number yesterday and was on hold for 25 minutes listening
    how important my call was and again today for one hour hearing the same thing,

    Check Question Reference # 200219-000174 regarding order #104886160

    1. Please contact us with your order number so we can assist you. The quickest way to reach us is via private message at Facebook.com/VitalChek. You can also reach us by phone at 800-255-2414 or by email at vitals.research@vitalchek.com.

  2. Can I get a copy of the death certificate translated into English? Some places won’t accept the original in Spanish.

    1. If you do, you will more than like have to have the translation notarized for legal purposes.

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