Whether you need a death certificate to create a record of your family history or to handle someone’s final affairs, it’s easy to order a death certificate in Delaware. The Delaware Office of Vital Statistics holds death records within the past 40 years, and there are three different ways to order these records.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Who’s Allowed to Request a Death Certificate in Delaware?
- Steps for Ordering a Copy of a Death Certificate in Delaware
- Frequently Asked Questions: Delaware Death Certificates
Vital records are an important part of your legacy. If you’re learning how to get a death certificate, it’s normal to have questions about the process, eligibility, and cost. With so many legitimate reasons why you may need a death certificate, it’s important to fully understand the steps needed to apply before you begin your request to save time and money. If your application isn’t complete or accurate, you run the risk of not receiving your certificate.
In this guide, we’ll share how to order a death certificate in Delaware. This step-by-step guide is designed for all types of requests, and we’ll also share what eligibility requirements you need to meet for your request to be processed. As long as you focus on accuracy in each step, you’re on the right track.
Who’s Allowed to Request a Death Certificate in Delaware?
Most states limit who can begin a death certificate search. This is to protect the privacy of the family and the deceased. In Delaware, death certificates are closed record. Any records from the past 40 years are held with the state Vital Records Office, and they’re only available to the following individuals:
- Spouse or domestic partner
- Adult children
- Legal guardians (with court authorization)
- Authorized representatives (with proof)
- Those completing genealogy research (with proof)
The state of Delaware requires a copy of your valid photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, work ID, passport, etc.) with every request, regardless of your relationship with the deceased. Additionally, you might need to show proof in the form of a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or court authorization. Copies of these records need to be uploaded to the online portal or included with your in-person or mail-in request.
Why does the state require you to go to such lengths to submit an application? Again, it’s to protect the family of the deceased. There is a lot of sensitive information found on death certificates, and this can also lead to fraud.
If you need to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus, handle someone’s affairs legally or financially, or notify the IRS of a death, you need authorization. This protects the identity of the deceased, their family, and the details around their cause of death.
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Steps for Ordering a Copy of a Death Certificate in Delaware
With all of that in mind, how do you order a copy of a death certificate in Delaware? If you’ve determined you’re eligible to submit a request, the application process is relatively straightforward. Follow the steps below to complete your request efficiently.
Step 1: Choose how to order
In Delaware, like in other states, you have a few different ways you can order a death certificate through the Office of Vital Records. There might be an additional convenience fee as well, so consider which of the following is right for you:
- Online: In Delaware, you have two options for ordering death certificates online. You can order through VitalChek or GoCertificates. Both have a processing fee and are the only two services approved by the state of Delaware.
- Mail: You can also obtain a death record by mailing an Application for a Certified Copy of a Delaware Death Certificate to the Office of Vital Records. Your application must include copies of your ID, supporting documents, and payment.
- In-person: Lastly, you can visit a Delaware Office of Vital Records in-person to complete an application in the office directly. Check the latest office hours before planning your visit. Multiple offices around the state accept walk-in appointments.
It’s important to note that the above only applies to records within the past 40 years. Otherwise, older records are found within the Delaware State Archives. These can be accessed for free, and there is no complex application process.
Step 2: Share information from the death record
The first part of the application asks for information found on the death certificate. These need to match the data on the death record, and incorrect or incomplete information slows your request.
You need to share the deceased person’s name, sex, date of death, place of death, and parents’ names. In addition, share your relationship to the deceased and purpose (if applicable). Remember you will need to show your ID and authorization documents.
Step 3: Confirm your information
Next, confirm your information as the applicant. This includes your name, address, phone number, and proof of relationship to the deceased. For proof, you can share your ID, marriage certificate, birth certificate, court authorization, and so on.
If your ID cannot be confirmed, your request will not be completed. Ensure everything you include on the application is correct to ensure your request is submitted properly.
Step 4: Pay for your request
In Delaware, there are clear fees for each vital records request. These documents are not free unless they are older than 40 years old and accessed through state archives.
Each certificate costs $25. A portion of this fee is donated to the distressed cemetery fund, helping afford cemeteries for others in Delaware. This fee is not returned if your request can’t be completed. Indicate the number of copies you need, and include payment for the full amount. If you’re paying in person or by mail, make checks or money orders payable to the Office of Vital Statistics.
Lastly, note that ordering online through a third party like VitalChek or GoCertificates means you need to pay an additional processing fee. This is a $12.95 fee for VitalChek and a $7+ fee for GoCertificates. Again, these fees are nonrefundable.
Step 5: Submit your order
Finally, you’re ready to submit your order to the state of Delaware Vital Records Office. If you submit online, keep a copy of your confirmation for your records. If you mail your application, you can mail it to any Office of Vital Statistics. The address of the main office is:
Jessie S. Cooper Bldg.
417 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901
If you visit in person, you can go to the Dover, Newark, or Georgetown Vital Record Office. Check the current office and operating hours before your visit since they’re subject to change at any time.
There are no specific processing times given by the state of Delaware. As soon as your request is received by the Office of Vital Records, the search will begin based on the current record queue. Any missing or incorrect information in your request slows this process, and it could prevent your record from being found at all. However, most receive their copies within 1 to 3 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions: Delaware Death Certificates
It’s normal to have questions about your request, especially if this is your first time applying for a death certificate. Read through these frequently asked questions below to shine a light on the application process for Delaware vital records.
Can you read death certificates from Delaware online?
You can read death certificates from Delaware online that are with the state archives. These are records that are over 40 years old (1980 and prior). After 40 years, death records are no longer kept secure within the Delaware Vital Record Office.
The best way to request a death certificate that’s older than 40 years is by contacting the Delaware Public Archives directly through their online contact form. Select “Death Certificate” during this request to get faster service.
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How long does it typically take to receive a death certificate?
Delaware doesn’t publicly state their current processing times. Your waiting period likely depends on your method of order (online, mail, or in-person) as well as the current queue. Most states process requests between 1 to 3 weeks, though this varies depending on the time of year.
Remember to account for shipping times when asking how long your request will take. This is especially true for online and mail orders, as same-day requests might be possible if you visit an office in person. However, this depends on the day’s queue and availability.
Are death certificates public record in Delaware?
Death records are not public record in Delaware. This is to protect the privacy of the deceased and the family. However, records older than 40 years are no longer protected under these record laws. At this point, they become open to the public through state archives.
Because there are so many instances of identity fraud that target the recently deceased, these preventative measures give the family comfort that their records are safe.
What is the difference between VitalChek and GoCertificates?
As one of the few states that authorize the use of more than one third-party ordering service, it’s not always clear which order form to use for your death record. Both VitalChek and GoCertificates have a similar order process, and both are trusted tools.
Which is right for you? The best thing to look at is the price. VitalChek and GoCertificates charge processing fees to use their service. These fees are in addition to the current costs of completing a death certificate search. These prices change regularly, and you might find a special deal by using one vs another. Ultimately, the results are the same.
Death Records in Delaware
Regardless of why you need to order a death certificate, it’s easy to find the process that works right for you in Delaware. All requests require you to meet the strict eligibility requirements and proof of identification, but this is for your own safety. For these families, knowing their loved one’s records are secure offers peace of mind.
When it comes to vital records, the death certificate is a part of our legacy. It helps families finalize affairs, close accounts, and honor family history. By requesting your loved one’s death record in Delaware, you’re keeping them in your thoughts and memories long after they’re gone.
If you're a Delaware resident and ready to start preparing your own end-of-life planning documents, Cake has Advance Care Planning forms you can download. To help ease your planning, we have all the documents you need in one place.
- “Birth & Death Records - Office of Vital Statistics.” Delaware Department of Health Services. A.