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3. Death certificates

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  • Alaska

    When 50 years have elapsed after a death, these records become public. AS 18.50.310(a), (f).

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  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    Death certificates are exempt from the FOIA. They can only be disclosed for research purposes, and the disclosure of information that would identify a person or an institution can only be obtained upon a written request and with an agreement providing for the confidentiality of the information. Ark. Code Ann. § 20-18-304(a).

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  • Colorado

    Vital statistics records shall be treated as confidential, but the department of public health and environment shall, upon request, furnish to any applicant having a direct and tangible interest in a vital statistics record a certified copy of any record. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-2-117(1).

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  • Connecticut

    Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-51a permits those acting under the direction of a legally incorporated genealogical society to copy death records of a municipality for pre-1900 events. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-41a provides access to all records of vital statistics to any member of a legally incorporated genealogy society.

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  • Delaware

    Death certificates are exempt. See 29 Del. C. § 1000(2)(g)(6) and 16 Del. C. § 3110(a) and (f).

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  • Georgia

    Death certificates are only issued to applicants having a direct and tangible interest, primarily family members or legal representatives of the family.

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  • Hawaii

    Haw. Rev. Stat. § 338-18 restricts the inspection and copying of, and disclosure of information contained in, vital statistics records to certain persons.

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  • Idaho

    Death certificates are records of vital statistics and exempt from disclosure under Idaho Code § 74-106(4)(e) and are considered legally “confidential” in Idaho for 50 years. Idaho Code § 39-270(e).

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  • Illinois

    Closed pursuant to the Illinois Vital Records Act, 410 ILCS 535/1 et seq. and 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a).

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  • Indiana

    Death certificates are not public records. However, Indiana Code Section 16-37-3-9 requires local health offices to make a permanent record of and provide access to the following information from death certificates: name, sex, age, residence addresses for the decedent for two years before the death, and the place of death. See also Evansville Courier & Press v. Vanderburgh Cnty. Health Dep’t, 17 N.E.3d 922, 924 (Ind. 2014) (holding that, under the Access to Public Records Act, a county health department must provide public access to death certificates that doctors, coroners, and funeral directors file).

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  • Iowa

    Iowa Code § 144.43; Iowa Code § 144.26.

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  • Kansas

    Death certificates are not available for public disclosure pursuant to K.S.A. 45-221(a) and K.S.A. 65-2422d(c).

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  • Kentucky

    Ky. Rev. Stat. 213.131 et seq., governs access to death certificates. See 07-ORD-003 (Cabinet of Health and Family Services satisfied the Open Records Act by offering to send the requester an alphabetical list of death records containing the only information to which he is entitled under Ky. Rev. Stat. 213.131(2)).

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  • Louisiana

    Up to one year following the date of death, a death certificate may be issued to a funeral director at the request of the immediate family. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:41(C)(5). Otherwise it is only available to the immediate or surviving family of the person named in the certificate, or an attorney acting on their behalf. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:41(C)(1), (2).

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  • Maine

    Custodians of certificates and records of birth, marriage and death may permit inspection of records, or issue certified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant therefor has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded, the decision of the state registrar or the clerk of a municipality being subject to review by the Superior Court, pursuant to 22 M.R.S.A. § 2706.

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  • Maryland

    The spouse, adult child, parent, adult sibling, grandparent, or guardian of the person of the deceased at the time of the deceased's death may request corrections to a death certificate.  §§ 4-101(g)(3), 4-502; see also Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen Art. § 5-310(d)(2).

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  • Massachusetts

    Death records since 1915 are publicly available from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston. No internet access. Records from 1841 to 1915 are available at the State Archives. Earlier records, dating back to 1635, may be available from the clerk’s office in the municipality of occurrence.

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  • Michigan

    Death certificates are public records by Mich. Comp. Laws 333.2882.

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  • Montana

    Immediately upon the filing of a record with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the fact that a death occurred may be released to the public. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-122(5)(a). A copy of the death certificate must be issued to anyone who requests it. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-121(4).

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  • Nebraska

    Are public records, although requester must have a “proper purpose.” Neb. Rev. Stat. §71-612 (Reissue 2009).

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  • Nevada

    Presumably open.  See 1990 Nev. Op. Atty Gen., Opinion 90-8.

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  • New Jersey

    N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1 provides:

    (a)The State Registrar or a local registrar may only issue a certified copy of a death record to a person who satisfies the following requirements:

    1. The person is able to identify the record;
    2. The person provides, at a minimum, all of the information requested on the Vital Statistics and Registration form entitled "Application for a Certification or a Certified Copy of a Vital Record," available from the Department upon request by calling (609) 292-4087 and at http://nj.gov/health/vital/vital.shtml; and
    3. The person produces documentation verifying that he or she is:
    4. The parent of the subject of the death record;
    5. The subject's legal guardian or legal representative;

    iii. The subject's spouse or domestic partner;

    1. The subject's child, grandchild or sibling, if of legal age;
    2. A State or Federal agency requesting the record for official purposes;
    3. A person requesting the record pursuant to a court order; or

    vii. A person requesting the record under emergent circumstances, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Commissioner.

    (b)The certified copy of the death record shall include information deemed appropriate by the State Registrar; however, at a minimum, it shall include the name of the decedent, place of death (county, municipality), date of death, sex, date of birth, date of issuance and manner of death, providing this information is available.

    (c)The certified copy of the death record may include other information; however, the last sickness and death particulars (cause of death and medical particulars) will only be included on the certified copy of the death record if the applicant satisfies the requirement in (a)3 above and requests that the last sickness and death particulars be included.

    (d)Any of the relatives to the decedent listed in (a)3i through iv above, with the exception of the funeral director as legal representative, may consent to the release to a third party of a certified copy of the death record containing cause of death and medical particulars. Such consent must be provided in the form of an Authorization for Release of Cause of Death similar to that set forth in Appendix A, incorporated herein by reference.

    (e)Any certified copy of a death record, with or without last sickness and death particulars, may be released without consent under the following conditions:

    1. To qualified personnel for the purpose of conducting scientific research only under the following conditions:
    2. An Institutional Review Board, constituted pursuant to Federal regulation 45 C.F.R. 46.101 et seq., shall review and approve the research protocol prior to release of the death record;
    3. Research personnel shall not identify the subject of the record, directly or indirectly, in any report of the research; and

    iii. Research personnel shall not disclose the identity of the subject of the record in any manner;

    1. To qualified personnel for the purpose of conducting management audits, financial audits or program evaluation only under the following conditions:
    2. Personnel shall not identify the subject of the record, directly or indirectly, in any report of an audit or evaluation;
    3. Personnel shall not disclose the identity of the subject of the record in any manner; and

    iii. Identifying information shall not be released to the personnel unless it is vital to the audit or evaluation;

    1. To the Department as required by State or Federal law; or
    2. As permitted by the rules adopted by the Commissioner for the purposes of disease prevention and control.

    N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.2 provides:

    (a)The State Registrar or local registrar may issue certifications containing information obtained from the death record to requestors not identified in N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1(a)3, so long as those requestors are first able to identify the record sought.

    (b)All certifications issued under (a) above shall state that they are for informational purposes only and are not to be used for identification or legal purposes.

    (c)The certification of the death record shall include, at a minimum, the name of the decedent, place of death (county, municipality), date of death, sex, date of birth, date of issuance and manner of death providing this information is available.

    (d)The certification of the death record may include other information; however, the last sickness and death particulars (cause of death and medical particulars) will only be included on the certification of the death record if the applicant produces documentation verifying that he or she is:

    1. The parent of the subject of the death record;
    2. The subject's legal guardian or legal representative;
    3. The subject's spouse or domestic partner;
    4. The subject's child, grandchild or sibling, if of legal age;
    5. A State or Federal agency requesting the record for official purposes;
    6. A person requesting the record pursuant to a court order; or
    7. A person requesting the record under emergent circumstances, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Commissioner.

    (e)Any of the relatives to the decedent listed in (d)1 through 4 above, with the exception of the funeral director as legal representative, may consent to the release to a third party of a certification of the death record containing cause of death and medical particulars. Such consent must be provided in the form of an Authorization for Release of Cause of Death similar to that set forth in the chapter Appendix, incorporated herein by reference.

    (f)Any certification of a death record, with or without last sickness and death particulars, may be released without consent under the following conditions:

    1.To qualified personnel for the purpose of conducting scientific research only under the following conditions:

    i.An Institutional Review Board, constituted pursuant to Federal regulation 45 C.F.R. 46.101 et seq., shall review and approve the research protocol prior to release of the death record;

    ii.Research personnel shall not identify the subject of the record, directly or indirectly, in any report of the research; and

    iii.Research personnel shall not disclose the identity of the subject of the record in any manner;

    2.To qualified personnel for the purpose of conducting management audits, financial audits or program evaluation only under the following conditions:

    i.Personnel shall not identify the subject of the record, directly or indirectly, in any report of an audit or evaluation;

    ii.Personnel shall not disclose the identity of the subject of the record in any manner; and

    iii.Identifying information shall not be released to the personnel unless it is vital to the audit or evaluation;

    3.To the Department as required by State or Federal law; or

    4.As permitted by the rules adopted by the Commissioner for the purposes of disease prevention and control.

    (g)The State Registrar or other custodian of vital records shall not permit physical inspection or access to the full death record, nor shall he or she disclose information, copy or issue the full death record, unless he or she is satisfied that the applicant is authorized to obtain a full copy of such record under N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1 or 2.2.

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  • New Mexico

    “When one hundred years have elapsed after the date of birth or fifty years have elapsed after the date of death, the vital records of these events in the custody of the state registrar shall become open public records . . . provided that vital records of birth shall not become open public records prior to the individual's death.”  NMSA 1978 § 24-14-27(C).

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  • North Carolina

    Death certificates are filed with the register of deeds and are public records. G.S. § 130a-99. Only certain people may obtain certified copies.

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  • North Dakota

    Death and fetal death records, filings, data, and other information related to death and fetal death records, except as authorized, are confidential. See N.D.C.C. § 23-02.1-27.

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  • Ohio

    Records of a Coroner are public records, subject to exceptions for preliminary records, photographs, law enforcement investigatory records, suicide notes, and medical and psychiatric records provided to the Coroner.  Ohio Rev. Code § 313.10.  Under § 313.10, special status to the Coroner’s records is afforded to the next of kin (R.C. 313.10(C)), and to journalists (R.C. 313.10(D). See State ex rel. Clay v. Cuyahoga Cty. Med. Examiner's Office, 152 Ohio St. 3d 163, 171, 94 N.E.3d 498, 506, 2017-Ohio-8714, ¶ 38 (father who murdered child nonetheless was “next of kin” entitled to full coroner’s report).

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  • Oklahoma

    A death certificate is deemed confidential and may not be disclosed.  63 O.S. § 1-323(A). 

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  • Oregon

    Under ORS 432.350, death records for deaths occurring within 50 years of the request are exempt from disclosure, though abstracts of such records are made public. There are exceptions for certain family members, a showing of intent to use the information solely for research purposes, or for a need to determine property rights.

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  • Rhode Island

    Generally closed.  Issuance of death certificates is subject to the rules and regulations established by the state Director of Health pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-3-3.

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  • South Carolina

    Available to members of deceased’s family, legal representative or others who demonstrate a direct and tangible interest to establish a personal property right.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-63-84.

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  • South Dakota

    Open. SDCL §§34-25-1 and 1-27-1.5 (2).

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  • Tennessee

    Generally closed. T.C.A. § 68-3-205

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  • Texas

    Under Section 552.115 of the Act, a death record becomes public information on and after the 25th anniversary of the date of death as shown on the record filed with the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official. As with birth records, death records maintained by the bureau of vital statistics or local registration official are available to the public. Tex. Att’y Gen. OR2005-07470 (2005).

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  • Utah

    Death records may be disclosed only where the Bureau of Vital Statistics determines that the applicant has a “direct, tangible, and legitimate interest” in the record, unless 50 years or more have passed since the date of the death. Utah Code § 26-2-22(4)(b).

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  • Vermont

    Records of Vermont births, deaths, marriages, civil unions, and divorces dating from 2012 and earlier, with a few exceptions including foreign-born births, are available from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. At this time, pursuant to 18 V.S.A. § 5002, there are no restrictions on public access to Vermont vital records.

     

    New requirements for the safety and security of birth and death certificates go into effect on July 1, 2019. As of that date, only family members, legal guardians, certain court-appointed parties or their legal representatives can apply for a certified copy of a birth or death certificate. See http://www.healthvermont.gov/health-statistics-vital-records/vital-records-population-data/death. For death certificates, a funeral home or crematorium may apply for a certified copy. Nothing will change when it comes to ordering copies of marriage, civil union, divorce or dissolution certificates. 18 V.S.A. § 5002 (effective July 1, 2019).

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  • Washington

    See Vital statistics section above.

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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