How to Get a Death Certificate in Massachusetts Online or In Person

Updated

Starting a death certificate search for a deceased relative — whether it was a recent death or it occurred long, long ago — may strike you as a complicated process. However, like most states, getting a death certificate in Massachusetts is fairly easy and straightforward. 

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In fact, death certificates are public record in Massachusetts, meaning they can be requested by anyone. Some states place a limit on the types of vital records you can access. That being said, we’ll still outline the information and fees you need to get a death certificate.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to get a death certificate in Massachusetts online, by mail, or in person. Depending on when you need the death certificate and possible copies, one of these options may prove much better for you. 

How to Order a Death Certificate in Massachusetts Online

You have a few options when ordering a death certificate in Massachusetts online. You can also check out this post for a general guide on how to get a death certificate.

Request via VitalChek

Using VitalChek will successfully get you a death certificate from Massachusetts. This website offers next-day services as well as a generally quick turnaround of 7-10 days. After your request is received, however, it must then travel to the local office in which the death occurred for processing.

Request via Archives.com

You can request a death certificate through another resource called Archives.com. Archives.com works in a similar manner as VitalChek, and it is a trusted source of vital records. Of course, processing times and the time in which you receive the death certificate may vary.

You also need to take into account that the death certificate may need to be verified by the local office in which the death occurred. However, you can also pay for an expedited service for a fee.

Request copies or death verifications, if need be

Death verifications are another type of official paperwork filed with death certificates. The death verification does what it sounds like it does — verifies the death as legitimate. These forms are generally more straightforward and do not appear like actual certificates.

Death verifications are often all that is required by credit card companies, cell phone providers, and related entities to verify the death of your loved one. You will need this information to cancel these types of services after your loved one has passed away.  You can read more about writing a notification of death letter to credit bureaus on Cake. 

Even if death verifications sound like the type of form you’ll need to take care of your loved one’s arrangements, it is still recommended to request 5 to 10 copies of your loved one’s death certificate. Another reason for needing a death certificate is to notify the IRS of a death. The process for requesting verified copies for more official entities is discussed in the FAQ section of this post.

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How to Order a Death Certificate in Massachusetts By Mail or In Person

If you prefer to complete your death certificate order in Massachusetts by mail or in person, that can be just as streamlined of a process. However, be advised that processing times vary depending on the process you choose. 

By mail

You can request death certificates in Massachusetts by mail. To do so, however, you will have to complete a vital records mail order form. You will also have to send a check or a money order along with your form. This office is not accepting cash at this time. Make your check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Address your letter to:

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mt. Vernon St.
1st Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125

According to the site, orders will be processed within 30 business days of receipt. However, if you need your death certificate sooner, within 7-10 business days, you can address your envelope to the attention of Expedited Mail Service. Be advised that you will have to pay an additional fee for expedited services. 

In person

You can request records in-person at the registry office. Registry office hours are listed on the website. Of course, staff availability may be subject to change. If you plan to visit the registry office and have a more complicated inquiry or need help with actual research, it may benefit you to call ahead. 

Request copies or death verifications, if need be

Death verifications are another type of official paperwork filed with death certificates. There are different reasons for needing death certificates or death verifications. The death verification does what it sounds like it does — verifies the death as legitimate. These forms are generally more straightforward and do not appear like actual certificates.

Frequently Asked Questions: Massachusetts Death Certificates

Even if the process of requesting a death certificate in Massachusetts online, by mail, or in person seems streamlined, it’s understandable to still have questions. Here are some frequently asked questions from official vital records sites for Massachusetts.

Who’s allowed to get a death certificate in Massachusetts?

In some states, vital records, such as death certificates, are public record. In a general sense, public record means that something has been filed by a public agency. More specifically, however, public record means that the public can search and access this information and it is not confidential. 

How long does it take to get a death certificate in Massachusetts?

How long it will take to receive a death certificate from Massachusetts depends on which method you choose. Depending on your request, how you requested it, and other factors, processing times can vary. 

  • Online turnaround: Of course, you can request death certificates at all hours online. This can be achieved via the VitalChek or Archives.com resource. According to VitalChek, your certificate will be electronically sent the next day to the local office in which the death occurred. Once it reaches that office, it should take two weeks or less to get to you. According to FAQs on the Archives site, the turn-around time varies depending on the issuing record office, but is typically between 15 and 30 days. For fastest delivery, they advise you to select USPS Critical Mail as your shipping method. 
  • By mail: Orders will be processed within 30 business days of receipt. To get your order within 7–10 business days, address your envelope to the attention of Expedited Mail Service, which is subject to additional fees.
  • In person: You can request records in-person at the registry office. Times are also estimated at two weeks to process and fulfill your request. Be advised, however, that staff availability may be subject to change. If you plan to visit the registry office and have a more complicated inquiry, it may benefit you to call ahead. 

Does it cost anything to get a death certificate?

Again, how much it will cost to get a death certificate or an official copy in Massachusetts will vary whether you choose an online request, by mail, or in person. 

  • Mail-in cost: Ordering a death certificate by mail in Massachusetts will cost at least $32, depending on the issuing county and if you pay any expedition fees.
  • In-person cost: Requesting a death certificate in person in Massachusetts costs at least $20, depending on the issuing county and if you pay any expedition fees. 

What about if I want copies of the death certificate?

The most hassle-free way to get copies (legitimate copies) of death certificates in Massachusetts is by purchasing them at the same time as the initial request. It will also be the most cost-effective. 

  • Online with Archives.com or VitalChek: This resource follows pricing for each respective state, so it is assumed that copies will cost about the same as described below: $3 each if requested when you make the initial request.
  • By mail or in-person: If you request copies at the same time as the initial request, you will only be charged $3 per copy or $0.50 for a microfilm copy. The same goes for marriage or birth certificates. That being said, this pricing is for certificates between 1841 and 1910. Earlier than that, and you’ll have to contact the town clerk in the town or city in which the death occurred. 

Breathe, and Consider Your Options 

If you’re requesting a death certificate long after a loved one has passed away or a few days after, it may not feel less complex in either situation. However, even if you’re pressed for time, reading through the processes carefully and speaking to the proper professionals will ensure this to-do will get checked off without a hitch. 

For more resources on navigating end-of-life planning, including a checklist, be sure to visit the rest of Cake. Or, you can even set up a digital end-of-life planning profile on Cake’s free platform for yourself or a loved one. 


Sources:
  1. Death Certificates. Mass.gov. mass.gov/death-certificates.
  2. Archives, Vital Record Request. Archives.com. archives.com/search/vital.
  3. Massachusetts Birth Certificates, Death Records, Marriage Licenses and more. Vitalrec.com. vitalrec.com/ma.html.
  4. Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Mass.gov. mass.gov/locations/registry-of-vital-records-and-statistics.
  5. Order a birth, marriage, or death certificate. Mass.gov. mass.gov/how-to/order-a-birth-marriage-or-death-certificate.
  6. Index to Massachusetts County & Town Vital Records Offices. Vitalrec.com. vitalrec.com/ma.html#County.
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