How to Obtain a Death Certificate in New Hampshire: Step-By-Step

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There are many reasons for needing a death certificate, and the process of obtaining one varies by state. If you’re unfamiliar with the process in New Hampshire, this post is for you. There are several convenient ways to get a death certificate in New Hampshire.

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In this post, we’ll discuss the ease of accessing vital records in New Hampshire, step-by-step instructions for how to get a death certificate, how to get copies, as well as address some frequently asked questions.

Are Death Certificates Public Record in New Hampshire?

First, let’s discuss what public records are as you begin your death certificate search. In a general sense, public record means that a public agency has filed something. More specifically, it signifies that the public can search and access this information. In some states, vital records, such as death certificates, are public record.

So, what does this mean in New Hampshire? Are death certificates public record? Most states, including New Hampshire, have placed restrictions on the disclosure of vital records information. In New Hampshire, birth records prior to 1908 and death, marriage, divorce, legal separation, or civil annulment records prior to 1958 are considered public records, according to the Nashua, New Hampshire City Clerk’s office

Furthermore, the city clerk can only issue certified records of births, deaths, and marriages after those dates “to persons who have a direct and tangible interest in the requested record.” This could include the registrant, a member of the registrant’s immediate family, or the registrant’s legal representative.

ยป MORE: Honor your loved one's memory by taking the right next steps. Here is your free post-loss checklist.

 

Steps to Get an Original Death Certificate in NH

In New Hampshire, the steps for ordering a death certificate are relatively simple. Depending on when you need the certificate (if you have any due dates), can help you choose the most suitable method. You’ll also have the option to pay expedited shipping fees to meet your timeline.

If you’d like to request via the mail

Death certificates available in New Hampshire offices include records beginning in 1654. You can request these documents from the state office or the city or town where the death occurred. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resource (CDC), recent records (deaths since 1990) may be obtained from ANY city or town in New Hampshire with the Vital Records Automated software called NHVRIN.

So, what do you need to include to successfully mail a request? All applicants must submit a written request and a photo ID. Also include this form provided by the New Hampshire Department of State completed and signed. You don’t need any sort of fancy envelope—just one with your return address. 

You’ll need to include payment with your request. The first copy costs $15, and each additional copy costs $10. Fees are outlined on the form linked above. Unfortunately, cash is not accepted. You’ll need to send a personal check or money order made payable to the Treasurer, State of New Hampshire.

Here is the address to send your request:

Division of Vital Records Administration
Archives Building
71 South Fruit Street
Concord, NH 03301-2410

The address listed above may vary if you need to make a request from a specific city or town. If you’re unsure, you can always call and ask a staff member at the state department or your local office.

Bonus: More about New Hampshire’s vital records database

New Hampshire’s Vital Records Information Network (NHVRIN) electronically files and issues birth, death, and marriage records. Under this program, many communities are linked to a centralized state database. Data from births, deaths, and marriages are entered into this database to establish a record of the event. The database can then be accessed by any community to generate certified copies of the record. 

One of the best benefits of this program is the ease of access across the state. This makes it possible to obtain certified copies of vital records from any city or town clerk with access to the database. 

If you’d like to request online 

Mail-in requests might not be the best option for every situation. In fact, mail-in requests often result in several weeks of waiting time. In addition to being the quicker option—especially if you choose expedited services—making an online request is likely more convenient overall. 

Luckily, New Hampshire processes online requests. The only trusted provider listed is a service called VitalChek. The state or city clerk's office accommodates online orders for certified copies of vital records via VitalChek.

Additionally, VitalChek can provide expedited service for the speedy receipt of your certificate. An additional fee is charged by VitalChek for using their services, and all major credit cards are accepted.

Steps to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in NH

Requesting copies at the time of your initial death certificate request in New Hampshire is the most hassle-free method. You’ll often need more than one copy (likely three to five) of a death certificate to close out accounts or coordinate other arrangements. 

Ask with your initial request

The most cost-effective method is to request all your copies at the same time. For example, New Hampshire charges more for the first copy than additional copies. If you request copies at the same time as your initial request, you will only have to pay any expedited fees once. 

Why copies and verifications are important

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, have less information, 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. 

Death verifications can’t be used for tying up all loose ends. In some instances, you’ll need a certified copy of the death certificate. For example, you need a certified death certificate to notify the IRS of a death

Frequently Asked Questions: Getting a Death Certificate in New Hampshire

The answers to the FAQs below are provided courtesy of the New Hampshire Department of Health site.

How much does it cost to get a death certificate in New Hampshire?

Certified copies of death certificates in New Hampshire cost $15. If you request additional copies ordered at the same time, they will cost $10 each. 

To obtain certified copies of death records, you must complete an application and provide it to the City Clerk along with a search fee (included in the $15 fee). This fee is non-refundable whether or not a record is found. Therefore, be sure to request the record from the town or city clerk where the event occurred or through the NH Bureau of Vital Records.

Who’s allowed to request an original or a copy of a death certificate?

As previously noted, in New Hampshire, birth records prior to 1908 and death, marriage, divorce, legal separation, or civil annulment records prior to 1958 are considered public records. 

But what about individuals not in these brackets? The City Clerk can only issue certified records of births, deaths, and marriages after these dates “to persons who have a direct and tangible interest in the requested record.” This could include the registrant, a member of the registrant’s immediate family, or the registrant’s legal representative.

How long does it take to receive an original or copy of a death certificate from New Hampshire?

The request method you choose will determine the turnaround time of receiving the death certificate. 

Mail-in requests, in most cases, have the longest turnaround times. These may vary based on the volume of the office as well. You should receive your requested certificate within three weeks.

On the other hand, online requests can be much quicker. Furthermore, selecting expedited services from VitalChek can ensure your certificate reaches you within a day or two. Keep in mind extra fees are necessary to make this happen. Otherwise, regular processing times are about two to three weeks.

Plan Now, Relax Sooner (Not Later)

Requesting death certificates may feel like another stressful to-do in the wake of losing a loved one. Or perhaps it’s a task you’re reluctant to do as part of genealogical research. Doing your research beforehand ensures you’re taking the right steps, making it easier for you to complete.

For more resources on navigating end-of-life planning, including a checklist, be sure to visit 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. Vital Records. Nashua City Clerk’s Office. https://www.nashuanh.gov/241/Vital-Records
  2. Where to Write for Vital Records - New Hampshire. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/new_hampshire.htm
  3. VitalChek: Order Your Vital Records Online- New Hampshire. VitalChek. https://www.vitalchek.com/vital-records/new-hampshire
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