Many organizations require a certified copy of the death certificate when someone dies. How you get copies depends on whether the person died in the U.S. or abroad.
Death in the U.S.: how to get a certified copy of a death certificate
Contact the vital records office of the state where the death occurred to learn:
- How to order a certified copy of a death certificate online, by mail, or in-person
- How to get a copy fast
- The cost for each certified copy
When to use a certified copy or a photocopy
You will need to purchase a certified copy of the death certificate for tasks such as:
- Notifying the Social Security Administration and other government agencies
- Closing or transferring credit cards and bank accounts
- Claiming a person’s life insurance or pension
You may only need a photocopy for other tasks, such as canceling a subscription. Check with the agency or organization handling each account.
Death of a U.S. citizen abroad: how to get death records
When a U.S. citizen dies in another country, the U.S. embassy or consulate should get a death certificate or notification from the foreign government. It will then issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRDA). Use the CRDA in the U.S. as proof of death for closing accounts and handling legal tasks.
You can get up to 20 certified copies at the time of death for free. Order more copies of the CRDA from the Department of State.