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Death Certificates - How to obtain a copy in the United States
A death certificate is a document issued by a government official, such as a city or town clerk, which declares the date, location and cause of a person's death. There are two kinds of death certificates: certified and uncertified death certificates.

Certified death certificates can be used to legally document a person's death for probate, insurance, or estate purposes. Certified death certificates often have restricted access to immediate family members, their legal representatives, or those who can prove a tangible legal interest in the person's death. Access rights differ by state: Some states are "open records" states which allow access to anyone while others have more stringent access rights.

An uncertified death certificate documents a person's death but cannot by used for legal purposes. For example, an uncertified death certificate can be used by a genealogist to help establish family lines but cannot be used for legal purposes. Some states offer both certified and uncertified death certificates but you will need to check with each state page for details.

Below are general tips and hints for obtaining death certificates in the United States. United States death certificates are generally available at the state, county, or city level; please write, call, or visit the state Vital Records office in the state where the death transpired.

Please follow the tips below to make sure you receive the Decedent's (person who has died) death record as quickly as possible:
· Try to limit it to one request per decedent. Multiple decedents per request may lead to confusion.
· Provide as complete information about the decedent, place and date of death as possible. For example, provide nicknames or maiden names for the deceased or a span of years, if you do not know the exact date of death
· Please remember to sign and date the request.
· Always enclose a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) and payment, if requested.
·

Please provide the following information in your request:
Information about the Decedent,Decedent's full name with last name in all caps
Decedent's Sex, the date and place of death (City, State, and Name of Hospital, if known). Information about the Requestor (person requesting the death certificate). Requestor's name and address, requestor's relationship to the decedent, purpose for the death record. Some states may require requestor's driver's license number and the the state which issued it.

· Please remember that Vital Records offices are government organizations that have limited resources and staff. Keeping your request concise and clear will help expedite the process for receiving your death certificate.
· Be sure and include following information:
 
· Date of request
· Full name of deceased (last name in caps)
· Sex of that person
· Date of death
· Place of death (city or town, county, state, and name of the hospital, if known)
· Relationship to party
· The purpose for which the record is needed
· Requestor's name & address
· Requestor's driver's license number & state (some counties require it)
· Requestor's signature
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