How to Get a Death Certificate in New Mexico (Original or Copy)

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Do you need to order a death certificate in New Mexico? If so, the process can be confusing, especially if you don’t know how to get a death certificate. Whether you’re closing a loved one’s accounts or starting genealogy research, you might find yourself needing to know how to get a death certificate in New Mexico. 

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Every state has its own rules and requirements around requesting death certificates. Some keep specific records private, while others have more relaxed laws around vital records. Ultimately, it’s important to research the specific requirements in your specific state to determine how to request the legal documents you need. 

In this guide, we share how to get a death certificate in New Mexico. This state has restricted access to records, so it’s important to review these steps below carefully. If you’re starting your own death certificate search, here is everything you need to know to begin.

What Do You Need to Get a Death Certificate in New Mexico?

Before you begin, there are some things you need to order a death certificate in New Mexico. If you want a certified copy (also known as an original death certificate), you need to be related to the deceased or authorized by the court. Because certified death records contain sensitive information, they’re not open to the public. 

That being said, there are other options to get free death certificates online if you’re willing to use genealogy search tools. While these can’t be used for legal reasons like sending a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus, they can still be used for family research. There are a number of valid reasons why you may need a death certificate. In many cases, you don’t need a legal, certified copy through the New Mexico Department of Vital Records. 

However, if you do wish to search for a death certificate, you need specific information. The more information you have about the deceased, the easier it becomes to find your record. Make sure you have:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • Their place of death
  • Their gender
  • Their date of death
  • Their parent(s) name(s)

Though it’s optional to have their parents’ names, this information helps validate records faster. Any mistakes can delay the process, and your record might not be located at all. In addition, you can only request records for those who died in the state of New Mexico through the steps below. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact the specific state’s Department of Vital Records.

The Department of Vital Records is responsible for accurate recordkeeping for death certificates, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and more. 


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Steps for Obtaining an Original Death Certificate in New Mexico

If you’re ready to obtain an original death certificate in New Mexico, you’re in the right place. There is a step-by-step process you must follow for a certified copy. This process is to protect the confidential information found in these legal records. You can use a legal death certificate to close accounts, access death benefits, notify the IRS of a death, and more. 

1. Ensure you’re eligible

Before you begin, make sure you’re eligible to request a death certificate in New Mexico. Certified records are only for immediate family or those with a tangible interest in this information. There are strict rules about who qualifies, and you have to show clear identification and authorization to be approved. In order to qualify, you must be related to the deceased in one of these ways:

  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Child
  • Current spouse
  • Grandparent

Alternatively, you can access this record if you can prove you have a tangible interest in the document. This means you’re a reporting agency (insurance, funeral professional, etc.) or you have a legal court order. You will need to share ID(s) and updated information to prove your relationship to the deceased. 

The only exception to this is for public records that are 50 years old. After this time, death certificates become public record in the state of New Mexico. At this point, you can access them regardless of your relationship or authorization. You will still need to complete the same application form, or you can use an online search tool. 

2. Choose how to apply

Like in other states, New Mexico has many different options for applying for a certified death certificate. You can apply through any of these methods:

  • Online: The easiest way to apply is online through VitalChek. This is an online platform that helps people order online records. It is the only approved service in the state of New Mexico. VitalChek also allows you to complete a request through the phone. 
  • Mail: You can also apply for records by mail using a paper application through the Department of Vital Records. Make sure you submit copies of the right documentation and ID(s) with your mail application. 
  • In-person: Lastly, you can also apply in person through the New Mexico Department of Vital Records. The New Mexico office is located in Santa Fe. This is typically the fastest method, but be sure to check current office hours before making a trip. 

There are different costs and waiting periods associated with each method above. Before you proceed, consider which timeline works best for your needs.

3. Confirm information about the deceased

When you’re ready to start your application, you’ll begin by sharing information about the deceased. This includes their full name, any previous names, date of death, place of death (in New Mexico), and parent(s) names. While it’s optional to include the parent(s) names, this is highly recommended. 

Make sure all of the information included matches the original death certificate. Any mistakes can delay the process, and your record might not be able to be found at all. Once complete, continue to the next section. 


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4. Verify your identity

As explained above, only specific people have access to certified death certificates in New Mexico. This means you have to share your own identifying details on your application. This includes your full name, address, and relationship with the deceased. 

You will also need to upload or include copies of your ID(s). Make sure your address matches the one you list on your application. All of these documents are used to verify that you’re eligible to receive this vital record. 

5. Pay the required fee

Vital records are accessible for a fee. Each state has its own requirements for the cost of each record copy. In New Mexico, this fee starts at $5 for in-person requests. This is the cheapest option. The cost is also $5 per copy for records by mail. Make your check or money order payable to "New Mexico Vital Records.” You may not send cash. 

If you choose to use VitalChek to complete your request, the cost is higher per record. It starts at $21 for a death certificate. If you wish to have faster, certified mail, this costs a greater fee. Note that this fee is non-refundable. 

6. Wait for your record request

Once you submit your record request, the final step is to wait. The waiting time varies on whether you pay for expedited service and how you place your request. The fastest way to get service is to order your record in person. If you order by mail or online, you will need to wait 3 to 5 days for processing. This doesn’t take into account shipping times. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in NM

Ordering a death certificate in NM isn’t complicated, but it’s normal to have questions during the process. Here are some of the most common questions and their answers. 

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

The fastest way to get a death certificate in New Mexico is to visit the Department of Vital Records office directly in Santa Fe. In some cases, these requests are completed on the same day. Otherwise, for mail or online requests, you can expect to wait three to five business days for the order to be processed. From there, you will also need to account for shipping time. 

Are death certificates public record in NM?

Death certificates are not public record in New Mexico. They’re protected under strict privacy laws. This means only the direct relatives of the deceased and those with court authorization are approved to receive this information. However, after 50 years, all death certificates become public record. After this deadline, anyone can request a death certificate in New Mexico. 

How else can you find out that someone died in New Mexico?

Aside from death certificates, there are other ways to find out if someone died in New Mexico. The first step would be to conduct an online search. There are a number of free genealogy websites that help you find information about ancestors, and this is a great resource. 

Similarly, you can search online for digital death certificates or obituaries. Many of these are available to the public, though they might not contain all of the information you’re looking for. Lastly, for a death that occurred 50+ years ago, you can search local New Mexico libraries for more information and research materials. The New Mexico State Library even has a variety of online tools, many of which are free to residents. 

Start a New Mexico Vital Records Search 

In conclusion, there are many reasons you might need to request a vital record in New Mexico. Death certificates are used for a number of purposes, from closing accounts to finalizing one’s estate. No matter your reason, it’s important to take each step carefully to ensure things run as smoothly as possible. New Mexico has some of the strictest laws about vital records, and this is for the safety and privacy of the dead. 

Are you sure what steps to take after losing a loved one? It’s not always clear where to go after experiencing a loss. Luckily, our interactive post-loss checklist is here to help. Including clear instructions for what to do with your loved one’s death certificate, use this free tool today. Most importantly, remember you’re never alone taking these next steps. 

If you're a New Mexico 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.


Source:

1. “Death Certificates.” New Mexico Department of Health. NMHealth.org

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