There are many reasons why you might need a death certificate or a legal record of someone’s death. The family of the deceased can request a death certificate from the funeral home within a few weeks or months of the death, but after this time passes, there are more steps involved.
If you’re wondering how to get a death certificate in Nebraska, you’re in luck. The process in Nebraska, compared to other states, is relatively straightforward. While you can’t order a death certificate online, you can easily order one by mail or in person at a vital record’s office.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Nebraska
- How to Search for Death Certificates in Nebraska
- Frequently Asked Questions: Nebraska Death Certificates
With so many legitimate reasons why you may need a death certificate, don’t be afraid to start this process. As long as you qualify as an eligible relative, the process is as simple as completing an application and sharing relevant supporting documents. In this guide, we’ll outline step-by-step how to request a death certificate in Nebraska.
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Steps for Ordering a Death Certificate in Nebraska
While some states make it possible to order a death certificate online, this isn’t an option in Nebraska. You can only order a death certificate by mail or in person at the Vital Records Office. Whether you need to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus, notify the IRS of a death, collect benefits after a loved one’s death, or so on, follow these steps below.
Step 1: Determine if you qualify
Nebraska has strict laws about privacy when it comes to vital records. Only some individuals qualify for death certificates. In Nebraska, you can only get a death certificate for the following:
- Your spouse or legal partner
- Your parent (if you are an adult)
- Your child
- An authorized legal representative
It’s also important to note that Nebraska only registered deaths occurring in Nebraska since 1904. Any prior records are not secured with the Nebraska Vital Records Office.
Additionally, you need to request the death certificate under what the state defines as “proper purpose.” This means you need a legitimate reason for requesting the certificate, such as:
- Establish death: If you need to legally establish the death of your loved one for any reason, this is a valid reason to request this document.
- Legal use: If you need a copy of the death certificate for any legal reason, such as the transfer of property or benefits after death, this is also a valid reason.
- Genealogy: The state of Nebraska allows the use of the death certificate in family history or genealogy research.
- Historical research: Lastly, upon proof of qualification, historical researchers may request a legal copy for a research project.
If you qualify based on the information above, continue to the next steps. Nebraska’s strict privacy laws ensure death certificates are “closed” to the general public.
Step 2: Gather key information
Before you begin the application for a Nebraska death certificate, it’s important to gather key information. You’ll need a variety of information both about yourself and the deceased. You’ll need:
- Full name of the deceased
- Married name of the deceased or any other names used
- City or town of death
- Date of death (or span of years if unknown)
- Your relationship to the deceased
- The purpose for requesting the record
- Photocopy of your government-issued ID (current driver’s license, passport, etc.)
When you’ve identified all of the above, you’re ready to complete the application. If you’re unsure of any of the information above, continue to the section below in this guide titled “How to Search for Death Certificates” to learn more about your next steps.
Step 3: Complete the application
Next, you need to complete your application for a death certificate in Nebraska. This can be found on the Nebraska Vital Records website. You can type your application on your computer or you can print by hand.
To begin, fill out the information about the deceased. You’ll be asked to share their full name, other names they’ve used, city of death, county of death, date of death, your relationship with the deceased, and the purpose for your request.
These are the only essential fields, however, it’s helpful to complete the remainder of the questions about the deceased. The more you include, the faster the search will be completed. This is especially true if you don’t know the specific date of death or place of death. In this case, enter more information such as their year and place of birth, spouse’s name, and parent’s names.
Lastly, share your information as the requestor. You’ll need to sign and certify that you’re not completing this request for any deceptive purpose. Include your contact information and shipping address. This is how you’ll receive your copies as well as updates about the record search.
Step 4: Include your fee and supporting documents
At the bottom of the application for your record request, indicate the number of certified copies you’re requesting. Each copy costs $16, and you’ll need to add up the total cost. To make your payment, include a check or money order made payable to Vital Records.
Finally, enclose a copy of your photo ID with your request. This can be any legal government identification such as a driver’s license, passport, etc.
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Step 5: Mail or deliver your request in-person
Your final step is to mail in your application or deliver it to an office in person. The in-person office has limited capabilities, and it’s recommended you mail your request to them if possible. Address your application to:
PO Box 95065
Lincoln NE 68509-5065
If you choose to bring your application in person, the address is:
1033 O Street, Suite 130
Lincoln, NE 68508-3621
Requests made prior to 4:30 pm can usually be fulfilled the same day. If you have any questions about your application, contact the office directly by calling (402) 471-2871 and pressing 0 to speak to someone.
How to Search for Death Certificates in Nebraska
If you don’t know any of the key information above, you might need what’s known as a death certificate search. This means the Vital Records Office searches for the record on your behalf with the limited information you have. Here’s how to search for death certificates in the state of Nebraska.
Step 1: Gather the information that you do have
Like with the process above, you need to start by gathering whatever information you have. Knowing the place of death or their last known address is important, as well as any key names (spouse, parents, etc.) in their life.
From there, you’ll still need to ensure you qualify for this request. That means you need to be a parent, adult child, spouse, or authorized by the court in order to begin this search.
Step 2: Complete the application
Next, complete the same application as above. It’s okay if you don’t know specific information. Be as clear as you can with the information you have. Include the last known address or city, as well as any relative information.
Because a vital records professional searches for these records themselves, the more information you give, the more likely they’ll have luck. If you need help understanding the forms or what to include in your application, visit the office in-person.
Step 3: Pay the fee
Last but not least, you’ll still need to pay the fee associated with normal document requests. This is $16 per document, and the fee is subject to change at any time.
Note that you will not receive a refund if the office is unable to find your record. The payment includes the cost of certified copies as well as the time spent searching. Once you’ve made your payment and submitted your request using the steps outlined above, you simply need to wait for an update by mail.
Frequently Asked Questions: Nebraska Death Certificates
Because this is a process most people don’t do often, there are a lot of questions you might have about requesting a death certificate. These answers below are specifically related to requests in Nebraska.
Can you get a free death certificate in Nebraska?
You can not get a free death certificate in Nebraska, but you can search earlier records online for free. Though this doesn’t include a legal copy, it could be useful for family research.
The organization Reclaim the Records petitioned the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to make the state death index free for public use. This record is found online today, and you can search by surname to find key records. However, this index only covers deaths between 1905-1955.
How long does it take to get a death certificate in Nebraska?
If you visit the Vital Records Office in-person prior to 4:30 pm, they offer same-day service. If a document is harder to find, however, it could take multiple days or weeks. If your request is sent by mail, factor in additional shipping times.
What do you need to apply for a death certificate?
In order to apply for a death certificate in Nebraska, you need to have a qualified relationship with the deceased or to be authorized by the court. In addition, you need a copy of your identification to prove this relationship as well as key information about the deceased.
If you’re missing any information about the deceased, you can still search for the death record. However, it’s important to include as much information as you do have such as their parent’s names, previous addresses, and place of death.
Request Death Records in Nebraska
Nebraska is a state with strict privacy laws surrounding the records of the dead. While this is important to maintaining the family’s privacy, it does make it tricky to apply for a certified copy of the death certificate. As long as you follow the steps above, however, you should have no issue getting exactly what you’re looking for.
Recent actions by nonprofit organizations continue to make accessing these records easier in Nebraska. Though there is still a way to go, it’s important for families to know their options when searching for family records. Whether you need a death certificate to access benefits or to learn more about your family tree, these steps above get you there.
If you're a Nebraska 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.
- “Vital Records.” Nebraska: Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS.NE.gov.