After a death occurs, the state is legally required to issue a death certificate. Like other vital records, this is an important document that’s used for a number of financial, legal, and personal processes. If you wish to start a death certificate search, however, there is a lot to know about specific state laws and practices.
In Oklahoma, there are strict rules about who can request death certificates. They’re not open to the public, and you need to determine whether or not you’re eligible before you start your own search.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Who Can Order Death Certificates in Oklahoma?
- Steps to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Oklahoma
- Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Oklahoma
Because understanding specific state rules is challenging, we break down everything you need to know about how to get a death certificate in Oklahoma in this guide. You have multiple methods to choose from, but continue reading to learn whether you qualify.
Who Can Order Death Certificates in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, like in other states, you need to meet clear eligibility requirements to apply for a death certificate. These are considered closed documents, and that means they’re not open records for the public to search. Why are they protected by the state Department of Health? These records are only available to select individuals to protect the identity of the deceased.
With that in mind, who may apply for a death certificate in Oklahoma? You must fall into one of the following categories.
You’re a person acting in the subject’s best interest:
- Surviving spouse, parent, child, grandparent, sibling, or guardian
- The legal representative of the estate
- Someone with a provable familial relationship with the deceased
- Funeral director
- Individual with a court order
- Co-owner or joint tenant of real estate property
- Anyone listed in the will (if it’s in probate)
You’re a genealogist or other authorized third-party:
- Genealogist with authorization from the family
- Genealogist with authorization from the court
- Oil, gas, and mineral companies with court authorization
How do you prove eligibility?
If you do qualify for a death certificate according to the rules above, you will still need to prove this status within your application. All applicants must provide a photo ID and other supporting documents. For example, if you’re a partner of the deceased, you’ll need to show your marriage certificate.
If you qualify as an authorized party, you will need to show court records, licenses, and so on. All of these extra steps are to ensure the death record is only realized to those eligible. If you don’t prove your eligibility, your application will not be accepted. See the full list of required documentation on the Oklahoma Department of Health website.
Steps to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Oklahoma
There are a lot of reasons for needing a death certificate, and the process for applying is the same no matter your purpose. Follow these steps below to get a copy of a death certificate in Oklahoma if you qualify.
Step 1: Choose your method
Before you begin the application, choose how you’d like to apply. You can apply either online, in person, or by mail. Each method has its pros and cons, but the results are largely the same. Note that some methods might have an additional processing fee.
- Online: The fastest and most convenient way to apply is online through a third-party service called VitalChek. This is the only approved third-party application for a death record in Oklahoma. However, VitalChek does charge a processing fee of $7.95 per order.
- In-person: Another option is to visit a county health department of the Oklahoma Department of Health in person. Before your visit, check the current operating hours of the office by calling 405-271-4040. The Oklahoma City office is typically open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4 PM.
- Mail: Lastly, you can mail an application directly to the Oklahoma City Vital Record Office. Download the Death Certificate Application from the Department of Health Website and be sure to include all required documents.
Step 2: Complete the required section
The first part of the Oklahoma Death Certificate Application is the required section. This has information about the deceased and the applicant, and it is not optional. If you fail to complete this section in full, your application will not be able to be completed by the Vital Records Office.
To begin, enter the name of the deceased, their date of death, place of death, and your relationship with the deceased. Next, share your information as the applicant. List your name, phone number, mailing address, email address, and the purpose of your request. You must also sign the document under this section (if applying by mail or in-person).
Step 3: Add optional information
The second section of the Oklahoma vital record application is optional. This helps office staff locate the record, so it’s highly recommended. Include any (or all) of the following to speed up the request:
- The social security number of the deceased
- Their gender
- Their spouse’s name
- Funeral home name and address
- Date and place of birth
- Parents’ names and birthplaces
Because these records need to be searched, the more information you provide, the better. You can also include a range of dates if you don’t know the specific year, for example.
Step 4: Pay for your request
You will also need to pay for this search request. The cost is the same whether you apply online, in-person, or by mail. However, if you apply through VitalChek online, there is an added $7.95 service fee.
Otherwise, the cost is $15 per copy. If you apply by mail, only pay through check. Make your check payable to OSDH. Note that this fee is non-refundable even if your record cannot be found.
Step 5: Prove eligibility
One of the final steps in the death certificate application is to prove your eligibility. If you fail to include eligibility proof, your application will not be accepted. You will need to send an acceptable photo ID that’s not expired, like a passport or government-issued driver’s license.
Additionally, if you’re not an immediate family member, you need to share other proof. This could be a court authorization, a copy of the will, or so on. You can see an updated list of acceptable identification on the state’s website.
Step 6: Submit your application
You’re now ready to submit your application. Ensure you’ve entered your information currently and fully, as well as your payment details. From there, submit your application online or mail it to:
Division of Vital Records
PO Box 53551
Oklahoma City, OK 73152
Note there are different processing times depending on how you submitted your order. Walk-in and online orders are generally the fastest, whereas mail orders account for shipping times.
Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Oklahoma
There are a lot of common questions about this process that you might not have the answer to after reading the application steps above. Here are the most frequently asked questions for death certificates in Oklahoma.
How much does it cost to get a death certificate in Oklahoma?
In general, it costs $15 per death certificate copy. That means if you order 4 copies, the total cost will be $60 total. You will need to calculate the full cost when placing your order if you’re paying by check or money order.
There is an additional fee if you choose to order through the VitalChek online service. This is a single processing fee of $7.50 per order. Lastly, if you wish for an expedited request, you might need to pay extra for this.
How long does it typically take for a death certificate to arrive?
Processing times vary depending on how you place your order. For online orders through VitalChek as well as in-person orders, most copies are processed within 1-2 business days. If you pay to expedite your order, this could be immediately or within 1 business day.
Mail is the slowest method for requesting this document. If you choose to apply by mail, allow up to 6 weeks for standard issuance. If you fail to provide the proper ID or information, your application will be delayed. This is why it’s important to always share the right information the first time.
What documents do you need to order a death certificate in OK?
To get a death certificate in Oklahoma, you need to be eligible under state privacy laws. This usually means you need to be an immediate family member or authorized by the court.
You will need to provide a valid photo ID with each request. In addition, you will need to share supporting documents like a court order or birth certificate. If you don’t provide everything you need, your request will be delayed or denied outright.
The only exception to this is for open records. Any death certificate older than 50 years is open to the public, and you don’t need to meet these eligibility requirements to access this document. You can find these public records through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries Archive.
Why order a death certificate?
What are death certificates used for in the first place? Whether you’re sending a ”notification of death” letter to the credit bureaus or an IRS death notification, these documents are mainly used to handle someone’s legal and financial affairs after death. They might also be used for family recordkeeping and genealogical purposes.
Death Certificates in Oklahoma
With so many reasons to order a death certificate for a loved one, don’t hesitate to start the process above. Though it might sound complicated, it’s relatively straightforward as long as you’re eligible. These strict eligibility rules are for the safety of the deceased and their families. As cases of fraud continue to rise, states continue to protect these important records.
Everyone deserves to be remembered. Vital records are an important part of our legacies, and they’re one of the most valuable reminders of our lives left behind. Handling a loved one’s final affairs is truly an act of kindness and respect. Congratulations on taking this important step. As long as you follow the guide above clearly, you’re well on your way to getting the documents you need in a timely, efficient manner.
If you're an Oklahoma 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.” Oklahoma State Department of Health. oklahoma.gov.