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Death Certificates

 

DCVRD notices

12/11/2018: The social security number data transmission issue has been resolved. If you have delivered a newborn since October 1, 2018 and requested courtesy data transmission to the US Social Security Administration (SSA), your information has been submitted. Please allow 2-3 weeks for the SSA to mail your baby’s social security card. If you would like to instead apply for a social security number at an SSA field office, please access this link for instructions: SSA Brochure.

Death Certificates

 

death

The DC Vital Records Division (DCVRD) maintains death certificates dating back to August 1874. Death records become public after 75 years. All other death records are closed, and certified copies may only be obtained if you are legally entitled and present the required personal documentation (see below) and fees.

Certified copies of open and closed records are available at the DCVRD. Archived copies of public (open) records are available at the DC Office of Public Records.

WHO is entitled to a death certificate?

To protect the identity and privacy of citizens of the District of Columbia, DC Health restricts access to death certificates that aren’t in the public record.

By law, cousins, nephews/nieces, aunts/uncles, friends, neighbors, and those without a specific interest are NOT allowed to order an individual’s death certificate.

However, you ARE entitled if you are a:

  1. Spouse
    You must be named as a spouse on the death certificate.
  2. Domestic partner
    You must be named as a domestic partner on the death certificate.
  3. Parent
    You must be named as a parent on the death certificate.
  4. Adult child or sibling
    You need to have the stated relationship supported by actual certified birth records and provide the actual certificate for births outside of the District of Columbia.*
  5. Grandparent
    You need proof of tangible interest (that the need for the certificate is related to personal or property rights) or legal need (court, insurance, or estate settlement documents).
  6. Adult grandchild
    You need proof of tangible interest (that the need for the certificate is related to personal or property rights) or legal need (court, insurance, or estate settlement documents).
  7. Legal guardian
    You need an original copy of the court order (with a seal) naming you as guardian.
  8. Legal representative
    You need a copy of the retainer agreement, bar card AND a typed letter on the firm’s letterhead authorizing retrieval of this document.
  9. Law enforcement
    You need the DC Superior Court subpoena or other documents ordering issuance AND your unexpired work ID with a photo.
  10. Interested party
    You need proof of tangible interest (that the need for the certificate is related to personal or property rights) or legal need (court, insurance, or estate settlement documents).

HOW can you order the certificate?

For your convenience, there are several ways of ordering death certificates: online, by phone, by mail, and in person via automated kiosks.

Please review our return of fees policy.  This information will be helpful should you notice an error on your certificate and wish to amend immediately.

What do I need to bring with me to prove my identity?

We recommend that you bring several forms of ID to ensure that DCVRD employees are able to verify your identity.

For a printable version of the below requirements, please review our Identity Guidelines Information Sheet.

During your visit, you will be required to complete an identity verification questionnaire at our self- service kiosks. (Read more under “How do the on-site kiosks work?”)

If the kiosk is able to authenticate your identity, you will be required to present at least ONE of the following forms of primary photo ID (which must be original, valid, unexpired, and undamaged.):

  • State-issued driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card
  • Passport or passport card
  • Permanent resident card
  • Employment authorization card
  • Department of State card
  • Military ID Card
  • Law enforcement ID (must also present DC Superior Court subpoena)
  • Government employee ID (applies only to licensed social workers or government representatives with pre-existing approval from the State Registrar)

If the name on your identification does NOT match the name on the certificate, you must prove evidence of a legal name change, like an original marriage certificate or an original sealed legal name change order.

If the kiosk is able to authenticate your identity but you do not have a primary photo ID, you will be required to present TWO FORMS of alternate identification from the list below (which must show your full name, current address and/or signature where appropriate):

  • Valid, unexpired employment ID card (with photo) WITH a pay stub (dated within last 60 days)
  • Expired (within last 5 years) state-issued driver’s license, non-driver’s ID card or passport
  • Photo ID from a school in a U.S. state or territory (within last 3 years) WITH a report card, transcript or other proof of school enrollment (within last 3 years)
  • Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons photo ID or probation/discharge papers with photo
  • Social Security card
  • Vehicle registration/title
  • U.S. Selective Service card
  • Voter’s registration card
  • Federal Census records
  • Court documents
  • Pay stub (within last 30 days)
  • Utility bill (dated within last 60 days)
  • Valid DC ONE card
  • W2 or federal tax return from the previous year
  • DD214 military discharge/separation document
  • Legible printed copy of primary/secondary photo ID

If the kiosk is unable to authenticate your identity, you will be required to present ONE form of primary photo ID and TWO of the documents from the list below. (These options will appear when you present your primary photo ID.)

  • Social Security card
  • Vehicle registration/title
  • Utility bill (dated within the last 60 days)
  • Sealed court documents
  • W2 or filed US tax return from the previous year
  • Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons photo ID or probation/discharge papers with photo