How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate?

Official Certificate of Death example

After a person dies, it can take anywhere from one day to a few weeks for the official death certificate to be completely processed. Turnaround times vary by location, type of death, and when the person died.

Average Timeframe

Typically, laws dictate a death certificate should be created within 72 hours of a death being reported and submitted to the local health department. Each state has specific regulations on the timeframe for submitting a death certificate, and these requirements can range from one to 10 days.

Required Information

In some states, death records are public and anyone can request one, but in most states you must be related to the deceased or legally representing their family. To obtain a death certificate for someone you may need to provide the following, depending on your state.

  • Proof of your identity that includes a photo, your signature, and that is not expired
  • The full name, sex, and exact date and place of death for the deceased
  • The legal names of the deceased's parents, including their mother's maiden name
  • The reason why you're requesting a copy, with documentation such as an insurance policy with your name as the beneficiary
  • Your relationship to the deceased and current contact information

Verification and Signatures

A medical examiner, coroner, or physician is often required to fill in portions of the certificate or, at the very least, they sign it to confirm the person is no longer living.

Once the medical professional has completed their portion of the certificate, they often have to deliver it to the funeral director, who also signs the document. The certificate is then transferred to the local government office charged with keeping vital records. This office completes the certification process by reviewing the information and affixing a governmental seal. This process differs slightly from state to state, so how long it takes to get a death certificate after someone dies can vary.

State Death Certificate Timeframes

To get specific requirements for processing by state, use this chart to find the processing time after requesting a certificate.

State Death Certificate Timeframes
State Processing Time State Processing Time
Alabama Same day in person Montana 2-3 weeks
Alaska Same day in person Nebraska Same day in person
Arizona 7-10 business days Nevada Same day in person
Arkansas Same day in person New Hampshire Same day in person
California 3-4 weeks New Jersey Same day in person
Colorado Same day in person New Mexico 3-5 business days
Connecticut 6-8 weeks New York 5-12 days
Delaware Same day in person North Carolina Same day in person
Florida 1-3 business days North Dakota 3-5 business days
Georgia Same day in person Ohio Same day in person
Hawaii 10 days Oklahoma Same day in person
Idaho 2-3 weeks Oregon Same day in person
Illinois 5-7 business days Pennsylvania Same day in person
Indiana Same day in person Rhode Island 1-2 weeks
Iowa Same day in person South Carolina Same day in person
Kansas Same day in person South Dakota Same day in person
Kentucky Same day in person Tennessee Same day in person
Louisiana Same day in person Texas Same day in person
Maine Same day in person Utah Same day in person
Maryland Same day in person Vermont 2-4 business days
Massachusetts 2-3 weeks Virginia 1-14 days
Michigan Same day in person Washington Same day in person
Minnesota Same day in person West Virginia 10-14 days
Mississippi 7-10 business days Wisconsin Same day in person
Missouri Same day in person Wyoming 5-10 business days

Causes For Delay

National Cremation shares many reasons that may delay the processing of a death certificate.

  • If a medical examiner has to wait for test results, it can delay the process for weeks.
  • When a full autopsy or investigation into the death is necessary, it may take an additional six weeks at a minimum.
  • If the person died in a large county, delays can be expected because the offices are busier.
  • The certificate can be delayed if personnel are unavailable for live signatures due to office hours, vacations, or family emergencies.
  • Data entry errors of details like dates and names can hold up the process.
  • If the signer forgets to date their signature, the process can be delayed as well.

How to Speed Up the Process

Because a death certificate is an official government document, there's not much you can do to expedite the process. For the fastest results, it helps if you:

  • Have the deceased's personal information on hand
  • Know the exact time of death if the person died at home
  • Have the deceased's physician's contact information available
  • Speak with the coroner or funeral director about how you can participate in the process

Understand the Process

Familiarize yourself with local governments and identify which office is charged with keeping vital records. When you understand the regulations and parties involved in certifying a death certificate in your area, you'll better understand how long it will take to get a copy.

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