A death certificate is used for a number of purposes. Whether you need to notify the IRS of a death, access insurance benefits, or learn more about your family history, there are many reasons to order a death certificate for a family member. The specific process of obtaining a death certificate can vary depending on the state.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Who Can Order a Death Certificate in Maryland?
- What Do You Need to Order a Death Certificate in Maryland?
- Steps for Obtaining a Death Certificate in Maryland Online
- Steps for Obtaining a Death Certificate in Maryland By Mail
- Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in Maryland
If you’re wondering how to request a death certificate in Maryland, we’ve got you covered. The process is relatively simple compared to other states. While you’ll need to prove your relationship to the deceased or receive authorization from the court, it’s easy to order a death certificate in Maryland online or by mail.
If you need a death certificate for any authorized purpose, this guide is for you. Continue reading to begin your death certificate search in Maryland from the comfort of your own home.
Who Can Order a Death Certificate in Maryland?
Each state has its own privacy laws around vital records (birth and death certificates). Maryland has relatively strict regulations, but it’s straightforward to learn if you qualify. For any death that occurred in Maryland after 1969, you need to be:
- A surviving relative
- An authorized representative of the deceased
- Funeral director in charge of the final disposition of the body
You’ll need to provide proof of your relationship to receive a certified death certificate. This is to protect the privacy of the deceased and the family. The only exception to this is for deaths that occurred prior to 1969. For these earlier deaths, contact the Maryland State Archives for vital records.
What Do You Need to Order a Death Certificate in Maryland?
To order a death certificate in Maryland, you need clear supporting documents and information about the deceased. Your supporting documents prove you are legally qualified to access these vital records. This key information (name, address, etc.) is used to search for the specific record.
What exactly do you need to order a certified death certificate? Locate the following before you begin your application online or by mail:
- Identification: First, you need a valid, unexpired, government-issued photo ID that shows both the issued and expiration dates (passport, driver’s license). Otherwise, you can provide two types of alternative documentation (pay stub, car registration, etc.) if you don’t have a photo ID.
- Proof of authorization: Next, you need to provide identification proving your relationship with the deceased (birth certificate, marriage certificate, obituary, etc.). If you’re acting as an authorized representative, you’ll need a letter of administration, authorization of release, or court order.
- Insurance claim: If you’re making an insurance claim or business claim, provide documentation such as a letter from the insurance company, property deed, or title transfer.
- Deceased’s information: Of course, to conduct a search of records, you need to include the name, date of death, age of death, place of death, and sex of the deceased. It’s also a good idea to include the name of the funeral home and the reason you are requesting a death certificate.
Once you’ve gathered all of the above, continue with the step-by-step instructions below.
Steps for Obtaining a Death Certificate in Maryland Online
Like other states, Maryland uses a third-party service known as VitalChek to process online requests for death certificates. This service has an added fee, but it’s the quickest way to submit your request.
Step 1. Go to the VitalChek website
To start, navigate to the VitalChek website for Maryland. Though other websites might claim to handle vital record searches for Maryland, VitalChek is the only service approved by the state. To ensure your request is handled properly, only use VitalChek.
Once you’ve on the VitalChek website, click “Order Now” and choose the “Death Certificate” option to begin. Next, enter the city where the death occurred to start the request process.
Note: You’ll also want to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus.
Step 2. Choose the number of copies
Now it’s time to enter the information you gathered previously. To start, enter the date of your loved one’s death. Then, choose the reason for your request.
Once you’ve chosen the reason for your request, you’ll need to confirm the cost in the next step. Check the box to certify that you’re qualified to submit this request.
The last part of this step is to choose how many copies you’ll need. Depending on the reason for your request, you likely need multiple copies at once. The first copy costs a flat fee of $10, and each additional copy is $12. VitalChek also adds an $11.75 processing fee per order. So, it’s cost-effective to order the number of copies you’ll need the first time.
Step 3. Enter your information
Once you confirm your number of copies, VitalCheck asks for your personal information. Enter your current legal name, relationship with the deceased, and date of birth.
After you’ve confirmed your information, enter the information found on the death certificate. You’ll need to provide the name and gender listed on the death certificate. Last but not least, enter your shipping address. In Maryland, this address must be the same as your credit card billing address.
At the top of the screen, you have the option to choose your shipping method. Regular mail is free, whereas UPS shipping is an additional $18 for prompter service. UPS Air offers advanced security, faster delivery, and door-to-door tracking.
Step 4. Pay for your Request
In the next step, pay for your request. In Maryland, the only option for online payment is to pay with a credit card. VitalChek accepts payments from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. If you’d prefer to pay by check, money order, or cash, you will need to pay in person or by mail.
Last but not least, submit any required supporting documents and submit your request. Depending on the current search and shipping times, expect a processing time for online orders around two to four weeks.
Steps for Obtaining a Death Certificate in Maryland By Mail
Obtaining a death certificate in Maryland is easy to do by mail. It will also give you more flexibility with payment options, and there is no additional processing fee.
Step 1. Download the application
To start, you’ll need to download the Application for Certified Copy of Maryland Death records. This is located on the Maryland Health Department Website. Both PDF and Word documents are available.
Once downloaded, you can type in your responses on your computer or print and complete your form by hand. Be sure to have copies of your supporting documents and identification ready.
Step 2. Complete the requested information
This is a relatively simple one-page application. To start, sign the top of the form and date your application to confirm your request. Next, enter your name, address, phone number, relationship to the deceased, and email address.
Once complete, sign the next section confirming you read and understand the identification requirements. Finally, enter the information found on the death certificate.
Step 3. Determine your order information
The last part of your application is related to your order information. It costs $10 for the first request, and this fee is non-refundable even if your record can’t be found. Each additional copy costs $12.
Indicate the number of certificates you’re requesting as well as the total cost. Include a check or money order with your payment. If you’re paying by check, you must include a copy of a government-issued photo ID that lists your current address. Make your check or money order payable to the Division of Vital Records.
Step 4. Mail your application
Lastly, mail your application along with any photocopies of entitlement documentation or identification to the Division of Vital Records. The address is:
Division of Vital Records
PO Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036
Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in Maryland
Because requesting a death certificate isn’t something most people often do (if at all), it’s understandable to have questions about the process. These frequently asked questions provide clear answers.
Where can you get a copy of a death certificate in Maryland?
You can get a copy of a death certificate online through VitalChek, by mail, over the phone, or in person at some local health departments. When in doubt, contact the state Vital Record Office for the most up-to-date order requirements.
How long does it typically take to get a death certificate?
The processing time for death certificates in Maryland depends on how you make your request. The fastest method is to order online with express shipping. This takes around 2 weeks. Otherwise, online and mail orders take between three and four weeks.
Who can request a death certificate in Maryland?
Any surviving relative can request a death certificate in Maryland as long as they have evidence showing their relationship to the deceased. Otherwise, if you’re authorized by the court or acting as an executor, you can request a death certificate with proper documentation.
If you’re seeking a death certificate for genealogical purposes, contact the Maryland State Archives located in Annapolis. There are different requirements for this process.
How do I search for a death certificate in Maryland?
There are multiple ways to search for a death certificate in Maryland. If you’re a qualified relative or authorized by the court, you can complete an application by mail. Fill in as much information found on the death certificate as you can, and the state records office will do its best to complete your request.
Otherwise, contact the Maryland State Archives. They specialize in harder-to-find death certificates, especially for family research purposes. They’re a great resource when searching for records.
Get a Death Certificate in Maryland
No matter your reason for needing a death certificate, it’s easy to start the process in Maryland. Though it could take up to a month to complete your request, it’s quick to make the request online or by mail with the steps above.
Though these administrative tasks might be time-consuming, they’re a final act of love. By typing up a loved one’s financial and legal loose ends after death, we protect their legacy for years to come.
If you're a Maryland 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.
- “Request Death and Fetal Death Certificates.” Maryland Department of Health. Maryland.gov.