It’s important to understand the role of vital records in your record-keeping practices. Whether you’re holding onto death certificates to preserve your family history or you’re researching how to get a death certificate for legal matters, you need to know the right steps to follow.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Are Death Certificates Public Record in Hawaii?
- Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Hawaii
- Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in Hawaii
Each state has its own rules and guidelines when it comes to vital records like birth and death certificates. The Aloha State has strict privacy laws governing these records, so it’s important to not only know if you qualify but also to know how to proceed with your request.
No matter the reason behind your Hawaii death certificate search, this guide is for you. Obtaining a death certificate is straightforward if you know what to expect, but preparation is key. Let’s discuss the steps to obtain a death certificate in Hawaii.
Are Death Certificates Public Record in Hawaii?
Each state has its own laws surrounding public records. In some states, anyone can access vital records like birth and death certificates regardless of their relationship with the individual on the record. In Hawaii, records are not open to the public. That means you need to be eligible to request a certified copy of the death certificate.
Who qualifies? In Hawaii, it depends on your purpose for your request as well as your relationship with the deceased and their estate. Hawaii defines eligibility based on whether or not you have a “direct and tangible” interest in the record.
Any of the following people are eligible:
- The spouse
- A parent
- A descendent
- A person with a common ancestor (sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, etc.)
- A legal guardian
- A person or agency acting on behalf of the deceased
- A representative of the estate
- Anyone with a court order
In addition to the following, there are specific situations when you could request a copy of the death certificate even if none of the above are true. These situations are:
- Someone needs to determine the death of a non-related co-property owner purchased under a joint tenancy agreement
- Someone needs a death certificate for the determination of payments under an insurance policy
These eligibility requirements are subject to change at any time. In general, you need a legitimate purpose before your request, and you either need to be related to the deceased or authorized by the court. To confirm your eligibility to request a death certificate in Hawaii, check with the state’s vital records website.
Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Hawaii
There are a lot of legitimate reasons why you may need a death certificate. Though Hawaii is currently working on creating an online portal for requesting death certificates, this isn’t an option yet. In the meantime, you can order a death certificate either in-person or by mail following these steps below.
Step 1: Review the request application
To start, review the Hawaii vital records application. Download the Request for Certified Copy of Death Record form. This is necessary if you wish to mail your application, but you could also bring a printed, completed form in person to speed up the process.
This form is relatively simple, only requesting one page of information. Note that you’ll need to provide government-issued identification as well as proof that you’re eligible for this document.
Step 2: Identify how many copies you need
At the top of the request form, indicate how many copies you need to request. Unless you’re requesting a certified copy for genealogical purposes, most people need multiple copies from the vital records office. Whether you need to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus or notify the IRS of a death, you can request as many copies as you need.
However, each copy costs an additional fee. The first certified copy in Hawaii costs $10. Each additional copy is $4. Indicate how many copies you’re requesting and calculate the total cost. We’ll discuss payment methods in a future step.
Step 3: Share information about the deceased
Next, the form requests information about the deceased before you enter your own information. You’ll need all of the following:
- Name of the deceased
- Sex of the deceased
- Their date of death
- Their place of death (city, island, etc.)
- The deceased’s social security number
- Your relationship with the deceased
- Your request for this request (genealogy, benefits, legal, etc.)
What happens if you don’t know any of the information above? While you should include as much as you can, the Hawaii office of vital records can still search if you share as much as possible. Talk to a representative in person about your options for searching for a death record if you don’t have much information about the deceased.
Step 4: Include your information
After you’ve completed information about the deceased, you need to share your information as a requestor. You’ll need to sign and date the form, as well as include your contact information. If you wish for your requested copies to be mailed elsewhere, you can include a mailing address as well.
The bottom of the document is for the vital records office only, so leave this section blank. Once you’ve confirmed all of the written information on your form is correct, continue to the next step to include your documents.
Step 5: Make copies of supporting documents
If you’re mailing your request, you need to have copies of your identification and your eligibility. If you’re delivering your request in person, these documents will be confirmed at that time.
First, you need to submit a copy of your government-issued identification. This could be a passport, driver’s license, and so on. Next, you also need to prove you’re eligible with supporting documents. This could be a birth certificate, authorizing document, court request, and so on.
Step 6: Pay the fee
Note that all fees are nonrefundable. Even if your record isn’t found or you’re determined not to be eligible, the fee is not refunded. Keep this in mind when proceeding with your death certificate request in Hawaii.
If you’re mailing your form to a vital records office, enclose either a money order or cashier’s check. Make the exact amount payable to the Hawaii State Department of Health. They do not accept cash or personal checks by mail.
If you’re visiting an office in person, you can pay by cash, money order, or cashier’s check. Again, personal checks are not accepted.
Step 7: Mail or submit your request
Last but not least, mail your completed request form to the following address:
State Department of Health
Office of Health Status Monitoring
Vital Records Issuance Section
PO Box 3378
Honolulu, Hawaii 96801
If you wish to visit in person, the state vital records office is located in Honolulu at this address:
Room 103, 1250 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu
Confirm that the vital records office is open before visiting since their hours and holidays are subject to change. In general, they’re open Monday through Friday from 7:45 Am to 2:30 Pm for in-person requests.
Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in Hawaii
A death record isn’t something most people request often, so it’s only natural to have questions about this process. Because these steps differ by state, it’s important to understand the state-specific guidelines and process. These FAQs below are related specifically to Hawaii.
Who can request death certificates in Hawaii?
As you can see from the eligibility requirements above, you need to be connected directly to the deceased to submit a records request. Unlike other states, Hawaii has strict privacy laws around vital records like birth, death, and marriage certificates. These laws exist to protect families and private information.
If you’re a relative of the deceased or authorized by their estate or the court, you can request a death certificate in Hawaii. If you don’t qualify, your request will not be approved. You’ll need to provide identification and supporting documents to prove your eligibility when submitting your request.
How long does it take to get a death certificate in Hawaii?
In Hawaii, the average processing times for vital record copies vary depending on the current number of requests. Submitting an in-person request is usually faster, whereas a mail-in order takes longer in addition to shipping times.
Most requests are completed within 2 to 4 weeks. Contact the Hawaii vital records office to discuss the most up-to-date processing times.
How much does it cost to get a death certificate?
It’s relatively inexpensive to request a copy of a death certificate in Hawaii. The first copy is a flat rate of $10. Each additional copy is $4. This fee is nonrefundable no matter the result of your request. Payment will not be returned if your death certificate is not found.
How do you find old death certificates in Hawaii?
Finding older records in Hawaii, like in other states, is more complicated. If you’re seeking information about deaths prior to 1896, you’ll need to search through one of the Hawaii Death Databases on a third-party ancestry website. Since records weren’t clearly organized or secured at this time, it’s difficult to find records prior to the 20th century.
If you’re seeking information about a death record from 1897 to today, go through the steps outlined above. The Hawaii State Department of Health keeps all records from this time. For a fee, if you qualify, they conduct a search on your behalf.
Find Your Loved One’s Death Certificate in Hawaii
If you’re seeking a death certificate in Hawaii, submit your request either in person or by mail. Hawaii is a closed record state, and this means you need to have a direct relation or authorized reason for your request. As long as you’re eligible, it’s relatively easy to submit your request quickly.
Are you searching for someone’s death record? There are several reasons why this is an important process, whether you’re closing accounts or creating an accurate family tree. These key records are a part of someone’s legacy. Taking care of these administrative tasks and keeping accurate records is a final act of kindness for someone you love. Luckily, it’s never been easier to start your search.
If you're a Hawaii 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.
- Death Certificates.” State of Hawaii Department of Health: Vital Records. Health.Hawaii.gov.