How to Get a Death Certificate in Florida Online or In-Person

Updated

A death certificate is an official and legal document that’s signed by a physician stating the cause, time, date, and place of a person’s death. This is an essential document to have whether you’re closing a loved one’s account, arranging final wishes, or even doing genealogical research. 

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However, there’s no one-size-fits-all across the U.S. when it comes to ordering a death certificate. Each state has its own rules and guidelines, and you might be surprised to learn that the process is different. Luckily, it’s not complicated to learn how to get a death certificate no matter what state you’re in. 

If you’re in the sunshine state, here’s how to get a death certificate in Florida online or in-person. Florida makes it relatively simple to get an updated, accurate death certificate for a loved one. 

Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Florida Online

Florida works with a government-approved service known as VitalChek to arrange online records. You can easily order a death certificate or other document online in just a few steps as long as you meet the qualifications outlined in the steps below. 

However, placing an order through VitalChek costs more than ordering a death certificate by mail, fax, or in-person. The added cost is for convenience. To learn how to order a death certificate in Florida online, read the steps below. 

Step 1: Determine if you qualify

While some states issue death certificates to anyone who requests them, Florida has stricter privacy laws around the deceased. There are two different types of death certificates in Florida, those with the cause of death and those without. 

The death records with the cause of death are only given to the next-of-kin. On the other hand, anyone 18 or older can apply for a certified copy of a death record without the cause of death. However, if you want a death record with the cause of death, typically for legal purposes, you’ll need to qualify. These cause of death certificates are issued to:

  • A decedent’s spouse or parent
  • A decedent’s child, grandchild, or sibling (if they’re legally of age)
  • If the will or court document demonstrates his or her interest in the estate
  • Anyone qualified to act on behalf of those above

If you’re looking for a death record that’s over 50 years old, these qualifications are not necessary. This is only for records that are from the past 50 years. 

Step 2: Gather information

Before you begin your online request, it’s a good idea to gather your information. You’ll need a few different things to make sure your application is processed quickly and easily. You’ll need the following:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Supporting documentation showing your relationship to the deceased or interest in their estate
  • Their date of death
  • Their county of death
  • Their full name

Once you’ve gathered all of your key information, you’re ready to begin the process of ordering a death certificate online in Florida. 

Step 3: Start the process with VitalChek

When you’re ready to start, go to VitalChek and click “Order Now.” You’ll be directed to their online ordering system which walks you through the entire process of ordering a death certificate online. 

Note that VitalChek is the only online provider of official documents and records in the state of Florida. While other providers might claim they’re authorized, this is not true. Ensure you’re only using the VitalChek website when ordering a Florida death certificate. 

Step 4: Fill in the requested information

Your request can be completed in about 10 minutes as long as you have the right information. To begin, choose the type of government certificate you’re ordering.

Next, choose your state. In this case, “Florida.” Once you’ve selected the state, click continue to navigate to the county page. You can scroll through or type the specific county in which they passed. To proceed, enter their date of death. You’ll then be asked to share why you’re requesting this record:

  • Genealogical: This is if you’re conducting genealogical research for your family tree. 
  • Inheritance: If you have a vested interest in your inheritance or someone else’s estate, a death certificate is needed to complete this process. 
  • Insurance/retirement: You’ll need copies of your death certificate to get insurance or retirement benefits. 
  • Legal: Any other miscellaneous legal needs, like closing someone’s accounts and so on. 
  • Personal use: If you want a copy for your personal records, use this option. 

Step 5: Pay the fee

Before you continue with the process, you’ll need to pay a fee. This goes to both VitalChek and the state. The total cost should be around $26, but it might vary depending on the county. 

This includes the fee for the first copy ($19) and the VitalChek processing fee ($7). If you’d like an additional copy (or copies), it’s $15 per copy. 

Step 6: Input your information

To show that you’re related to the deceased or qualified to request a record, enter your personal information. You’ll need your current legal name, relationship to the deceased, and date of birth. 

Lastly, you’ll need to enter the name of the deceased as well as their gender. Before you complete your request, you can also add additional certificates (marriage, birth, etc.) to your order. To check your progress, note the updated information for your request on the right sidebar. 

Last but not least, enter your shipping information. Depending on your specific county, your shipping address might need to be the same as your home address. Once you’re ready, submit your request and enter your payment information. 

Step 7: Wait for your death certificate

Once you’ve submitted your request for a death certificate in Florida, you’re all set. You should get a confirmation once you’ve completed the order form. 

The typical processing time for non-rush orders is between 7-10 business days. For rush orders, you’ll receive your order in 3-5 business days. Note that if there are any issues with your information or if they need additional supporting documents, there might be a delay.

Steps for Getting a Death Certificate in Florida In-Person

If you’d rather get a death certificate in-person, you will need to go through the Bureau of Vital Statistics. This department offers both walk-in and mail-in services. This is a less expensive option, but it isn’t as convenient as ordering online through VitalChek.

Step 1: Make sure you qualify

To begin, you’ll need to ensure you qualify for a death certificate if you want one that includes the cause of death. Read through steps one and two above since the same rules and regulations apply. 

If you’ve determined that you qualify for a recent death certificate, continue to the steps below. 

Step 2: Complete an application

In Florida, you’ll need to complete the DH727 Application for a Death Record. If you go to the vital records office in-person, you can complete this there. However, completing it on your own in advance saves you time. You can also mail this form to a local agency.

Just as when you complete a request form online, you’ll need to input information about the deceased person’s name, date of death, and your information as the applicant. If you don’t know your loved one’s year of death, you can include a range of years to be searched. 

Step 3: Prepare payment information

There is a record search fee required in advance for any application for a death record. This is a non-refundable fee and it starts at $5 per document. The first copy is a flat-fee of $5 and each additional copy is $4. 

If you want additional years searched, this costs an additional $2 per year. If you wish your order to be rushed (2-3 day processing time vs. 4-6), this is a $10 flat fee. You’ll need to pay via money order or check payable to Vital Statistics. Do not submit or include cash. 

Step 4: Include copies of documents and statistics

Lastly, you’ll need to include a copy of valid photo identification if you wish to receive a death certificate with the cause of death. If you need to show your relationship to the deceased or that you are acting on someone else’s behalf, you’ll need copies of this information as well. 

Step 5: Submit your application

To submit your application, bring your completed form, documents, and check to a local vital records office. Alternatively, mail your completed application with payment to this address:

Department of Health
Office of Vital Statistics
Attn: Vital Records Sections
P.O. Box 210,
Jacksonville, FL 32231-0042

Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in Florida

Because this can be a confusing process, it’s understandable to have some questions about how to proceed. A death certificate search is often time-consuming, and there are a lot of legal hoops to jump through depending on your relationship with the deceased. These frequently asked questions are specific to Florida death certificates. 

Who can access death certificates in Florida?

In the state of Florida, anyone 18 and older can access death records without a cause of death or social security number. However, for a cause of death record, you’ll need to be either the next-of-kin or authorized by the courts to have this document. The exception to this is if the record is over 50 years old. 

How much does a death certificate cost?

How much a death certificate costs depends on whether you apply for records in-person or online. Online is the most expensive since you’ll need to pay an additional service fee. This starts at $26 for one document. On the other hand, an in-person or by mail document starts at $5 per copy. 

How long does it take to receive a death certificate in Florida?

In the state of Florida, the average processing time is between 6 to 10 business days for non-rush orders. Express orders are completed between 3 to 5 business days. Again, if you opt for an online order, you’ll need to add in shipping times to complete your request. 

Get Florida Death Records

There are a number of reasons why you might need someone’s death certificate or records. Whether you want to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus after the death of a loved one or you’re doing family ancestry research, it’s relatively simple to complete this process. In the state of Florida, you can request a death certificate in-person, by mail, or online. 

It’s important to have the right documents when you need them most. After losing a loved one, completing their final affairs is an act of kindness and compassion. Now that you know how to get Florida death records efficiently, you’re ready to take on all of these important tasks.  

If you're a Florida 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.


Sources:
  1. “Death: How to Order a Florida Death Certificate?” Florida Health: The Bureau of Vital Statistics, 10 December 2020, www.floridahealth.gov/certificates/certificates/death/index.html  
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