United States Vital Records include marriage and divorce records, and death and birth records. All such records describe someone’s family history. Birth and death records are equally important in providing relevant information about an individual and their family. Death records, in particular, can be tricky to find and are important for several reasons including:
Death records are considered to be vital records and have been collected since the mid-1930s. Official death records are typically completed by a funeral home, cremation service provider, or any other person or agency charged with an individual’s remains. Such records must be signed by a medical professional like a doctor, medical examiner, or coroner.
There are two types of death records:
Death certificates are issued at the time of an individual’s death. These documents generally contain sensitive information of the deceased including details of the person’s death and burial, church records or religious affiliation, and other relevant information. Some death certificates may lack details. In most instances, the missing details can only be provided by a relative of the deceased, also referred to as the informant.
A death index may include basic information on the deceased but often does not include personal details. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics (CDC, NCHS), with the Vital Statistics Offices of every state established the National Death Index (NDI). The NDI is a computerized index of death record information and aids in various mortality ascertainment activities.
Death records are considered public records but can only be obtained under particular circumstances. In general, death records can only be obtained by immediate family members or authorized representatives. Please note that rules and processes may vary per state. For instance, in New York City, you can download and complete the death certificate application form to initiate the process of requesting copies.
If you are allowed to obtain certified copies of one’s death records, you can typically do any of the following:
Some states have online repositories or websites that cater to record requests. You can, therefore, go through death records or order online for copies of the records.
Visit the record-keeping agency in person. Please visit the concerned agency armed with the necessary information and/or documents for a hassle-free transaction.
You can also send your request via mail or call the state agency, record-holding county, or city office. Many states have particular request forms that must be filled out and submitted.
There are reputable third-party people search engines, like Kiwi Searches, that provide you with relevant information about an individual. This may include everything from birth records to criminal history to death records.
Death records may include the following information: