How to Get a Death Certificate in Michigan: Step by Step

Updated

Requesting vital records, especially a death certificate search, can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never gone through it before. It can seem daunting whether your loved one passed away recently or a long time ago.

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This post will discuss what to expect when requesting a death certificate in Michigan (via a few different methods) as well as who can order one. The post will also share additional requirements to make it happen. Like most states, you’ll likely find it easy and straightforward to get a death certificate in Michigan. 

Who Can Order a Death Certificate in Michigan?

Let’s talk about who’s allowed to order a death certificate in Michigan to explain how to get a death certificate. This concept also touches on the concept of public records. Public records include anything that has been filed by a public agency. 

Furthermore, a public record means that the public can search and access this information and it is not confidential. In some states, vital records serve as public record. 

In Michigan, the public can access death records, categorized as public records under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. This can occur except when restricted by a provision of the law or court order.

So what does this mean for who can order a death certificate in Michigan? It makes the process a bit simpler, but not that different than other states. To request a death certificate in Michigan, you must present a valid photo ID. If you request a record by mail, you will also have to fill out a form with additional information about your request. 

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Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Michigan

You can tap into a few reasons for needing a death certificate that range from pure necessity to research. You can find death records in Michigan from the year 1867, which include certified copies and death verifications. This makes it easy to request for either legal or research reasons. In these cases, you will likely need copies. In the FAQ section, we talk more about requesting copies of death certificates in Michigan. 

Decide which method will work best for you

To file your request for a death certificate in Michigan, you should first decide if you’d like to do so online, over the phone, or by mail. Unfortunately, due to health and safety reasons, you cannot visit the office or walk in at this time. However, you can check back on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services site often.

If you choose to request a death certificate online, Michigan, like many states, uses a trusted vendor called VitalChek. It serves as a third party to file your request for you, which may result in additional fees, delayed results, or even incorrect information.

VitalChek will still require appropriate fees and may require you to fill out some personal information in addition to what’s expected, like billing information and your address. 

Of course, if you decide you have questions about this process or the information you need to provide, you can complete a death certificate request over the phone. Phone requests for death records in Michigan also go through VitalChek. 

Finally, if you’d like to make a request for a death certificate in Michigan by mail, you can also do so. You can complete requests by mail via the U.S. Postal Service by downloading and completing the application from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website. Once done, you can then mail the completed application, a photocopy of your valid ID (if applicable), and the fee to the address listed on the application. 

Provide necessary information

You’ll have to provide some personal information when making a request for a death record, as we’ve already discussed. Though this may include as little as just your valid ID, you may also have to describe in greater detail your need for the request and your relationship to the deceased person. Making a request by mail specifically requires you to fill out a form. 

Pay the right amount (and decide whether you need to expedite)

Sometimes cost, not time, helps you make a decision. Depending on which method of requesting a death certificate you choose, the fees may differ.

Online and phone requests via VitalChek cost $58.50: $34 for the record, $12 for the RUSH fee, and $12.50 for the VitalChek processing fee. You may pay an optional overnight delivery fee of $19.75 for a total of $78.25. In that case, you should receive the record in one to three business days.


If those fees sound like too much and you can afford to wait a bit longer, you also have the option of making a request by mail. In this case, certified copies of vital records cost $34. Optional rush fees and processing times on each application may vary. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Michigan 

We also wanted to take the opportunity to answer some frequently asked questions, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services site.

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

To receive a death certificate in Michigan, you must know the timeline for each of the different methods and what that timeline looks like. Of course, if you don’t have a time constraint for your request, one method may make more sense for you. 

  • For online requests via VitalChek: Requesting certificates online with VitalChek involves a two-week processing time. You can choose an optional overnight delivery fee of $19.75 in addition to the cost of your order. However, you'll get your certificates in just one to three days.
  • For request by phone: Phone requests for death certificates in Michigan also go through VitalChek. Expect the same fees and turnaround times as online requests.
  • For requests by mail: Regular processing time for mail-in orders takes four to five weeks and rush processing takes two to three weeks. However, this doesn’t include mail time or payment processing through their accounting department.

Unlike in some other states, the Michigan Vital Records office has closed for in-person visits for health and safety reasons. If you need information from the vital records office specifically, you can contact the staff.

What information is on a MI death certificate?

The information included on death certificates in Michigan changed in 2004 per requirements from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These changes have primarily helped improve the registration process, particularly relative to the review of the medical section, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Some information added pertains to:

  • Name at birth or other name used for personal business
  • Education
  • Unincorporated places
  • Hispanic origin
  • Relationship
  • Time pronounced dead
  • Whether tobacco use contributed to the death
  • Pregnancy status (if female)
  • Whether the deceased suffered a transportation injury

That being said, some information you'll always find, like a place of birth (city and country), marital status at the time of death, city, state, and country of marriage, the full name of spouse, age at the time of marriage, and parents' names and occupations, including mother's maiden name. 

Should I order copies of a death certificate?

Try your best to request copies or verifications at the same time as your initial order. Oftentimes, you’ll need more than one copy of a death certificate (likely five and as many as 10) to close out accounts or coordinate other arrangements. 

You may need copies of death certificates to close out bank accounts or claim benefits such as life insurance policies. This also notifies the IRS of death or sends a notification of death to credit bureaus. Death verifications may offer enough for certain entities. 

You will also notice that it's most cost-effective to request all your copies at the same time. If you request copies at the same time as the initial request, you will only have to pay processing or shipping fees once, even if the copies themselves all cost the same. It won’t hurt to ask, however, if you can save by ordering multiple copies at once.

Find Answers and Peace of Mind

Looking up how to find a death certificate in Michigan, much less following through on the actual request, might be the last thing you feel like doing. It may seem like just another stressful, time-consuming task. However, with proper research and a mindful decision for which request method works best for you, you can certainly get closer to finding peace of mind.

For more resources on navigating end-of-life planning, including a checklist, visit the rest of Cake. 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. Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Records. MDHHS - Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_4645---,00.html
  2. Michigan Vital Records. VitalChek. https://www.vitalchek.com/vital-records/michigan/michigan-vital-records?click_id=574772336235446274&ppc=0
  3. Order a Record by Mail. MDHHS - Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_4645_4702---,00.html
  4. Death Certificates (Revised). MDHHS - Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_2945_5221-81945--,00.html
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