How to Request a Death Certificate in North Dakota


Requesting a death certificate is one of the many steps family members take after the death of a loved one. Depending on the state, there are many different ways to go about how to get a death certificate. Each state has its own laws, eligibility rules, and requirements. Because of this, it’s not always clear how to order a certified death certificate when you need one. 

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With so many reasons why you may need a death certificate, how do you order one in North Dakota? The state of North Dakota has specific requirements on who is eligible for a death certificate, and the details on these records are not open to the public. That being said, if you are eligible, there are many different methods to order. 

In this guide, we’ll share how to request a death certificate in North Dakota. Read each step carefully to avoid any delays that might get in the way of your search. 

Who Can Request a Death Certificate in North Dakota?

North Dakota has strict requirements for each death certificate search. These requirements are in place to protect the privacy of the deceased and their family. This means only specific individuals have access to certified death records and other vital records in North Dakota. 

Under North Dakota privacy laws, a certified copy of a complete death record can be issued to any of the following individuals or third parties:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Parent or legal guardian
  • Adult child
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Authorized representative
  • Funeral director reporting facts of death
  • Anyone with a court order

However, a certified death record with the facts of death (not a complete record) can be issued to anyone with a legal right to this document. This includes a licensed attorney, third-party service, or anyone with a bona fide legal determination. 

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What Are the Different Types of Death Certificates in North Dakota?

Some states have different types of death certificates. These unique types serve a number of different purposes, and they’re not all necessary depending on your intention for these records. 

Again, these different types of death certificates protect the privacy of the deceased and their families. There are 3 types of death certificates in North Dakota:

  • Complete record: This type of record can only be issued to a relative or authorized representative. It’s a full death certificate with the cause of death and social security number included. 
  • Fact of death record: Anyone with a bona fide legal determination may order a facts of death certificate which includes the decedent’s social security number but not the cause of death. 
  • Information copy: Lastly, an information copy is available to the general public. This has demographic information, but no information about the cause of death or the social security number. 

Which one of the above types is right for you? For most legal and financial purposes, such as notifying the IRS of a death, a fact of death record (without any cause of death information) is adequate. Most people only request a complete record for genealogy purposes, but this is up to the individual applicant. 

Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to provide identification. This is kept with your request for record-keeping purposes, no matter which type of death certificate you request. 

How to Request a Death Certificate in North Dakota

If you’re ready to request a death certificate in North Dakota, you’re in the right place. This step-by-step guide will take you through each step of the process with confidence. Depending on your relationship with the deceased, you might need to take additional steps to confirm your identity. 

Step 1: Choose your order method

To begin, choose your method for ordering your death record. There are 3 options in the state of North Dakota. They each have their own fees and processing times, but they request the same information and verification documents. 

  • Online: Like other states, you can order a death record online through a third-party service called VitalChek. This is the only approved third-party service, and you can also complete a phone request by calling VitalChek. 
  • In-person: Lastly, you can visit the North Dakota Vital Records Office located in Bismarck. That being said, check the office operating hours before planning your visit.  

Step 2: List information about the deceased

The first section of the application for a death record is to identify information found on the death certificate. This is the information used to complete your search, so include as much as possible. 

You need to share the name of the deceased, their sex, date of death, place of death, date of birth, parents’ names, and your relationship to the deceased. You also need to indicate if this request is for genealogy or family history purposes. 

Step 3: Choose your record type

Before you continue to the applicant information, indicate the type of record you’re requesting. Again, you can choose between a full death record, facts of death record, and informational copy.

The full record includes sensitive cause of death information. This is typically only used for Veteran’s Administration or life insurance benefits. A facts of death record is used for most financial affairs, like sending a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus. Lastly, an informational request is for the general public. 

Step 4: Verify applicant information

As the applicant, you need to include personal information about yourself as well. This is used to verify your relationship with the deceased as well as to mail you the final copies. 

You must include your signature, printed name, phone number, mailing address, and relationship to the deceased. As the requestor, you need to include a primary form of ID or two secondary forms of ID. Alternatively, you can notarize your application to verify your identity with a notary public. 

Step 5: Pay for your request

One of the final steps is to pay for your request. Regardless of the type of record you choose (full, facts of death, or informational), the cost is the same. The first certified copy is $15. Each additional copy is $10. If you order online through VitalChek, this is an additional $12.95 fee. 

You can also choose additional shipping if you wish to expedite your request. Regular first class mail is free, but you can add upgraded shipping through UPS, USPS, or FedEx for $10 to $20 depending on your choice. You can also request a signature for additional protection and security with your order. 

If you order online, you must pay by credit or debit card. Otherwise, for in-person or mail orders, pay with a check or money order. Make your payment out to the North Dakota Department of Health.

Step 6: Submit your request

Last but not least, submit your request. If you order online through VitalChek, note any confirmation number of additional steps needed to verify your identity. For mail application, address your form, fees, and copies of identification to:

Division of Vital Records
600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 301
Bismarck, ND 58505

Depending on the way you submit your application, there might be additional delays or processing times. You can contact the Vital Records Office at (701) 328-2360 or by e-mail at for additional support about your request. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in North Dakota

Ordering a death certificate doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s normal to have questions throughout the process. Read through these frequently asked questions below before you begin your own application. 

Are death certificates public record in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, death certificates are public record, but only to a limited extent. Full, complete death records are only released to immediate relatives or authorized individuals. 

Though the general public can access death records, these do not include cause of death information or the deceased’s social security number. This information is kept confidential to protect the family’s privacy. 

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Can you read death certificates online?

Death certificates can be read and searched online for free in North Dakota. These records are available through the North Dakota Division of Vital Records. Through this portal, you can search public death records as long as you know the last name and date of death. 

If you don’t know the specific date of death, you can search through a range of years. The more information you provide the portal, the more concise and accurate the search results. Note that the index does not include any records from deaths that occurred in the past year.  

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

North Dakota has an average processing time of 3 to 5 business days for mail and online orders. This does not include shipping time, which varies depending on the type of shipping you chose. If you visit the Bismarck office in person, you usually can get same-day service. 

How much does it cost to get a death certificate?

A death certificate costs $15 for the first copy. Each additional copy is another $10. If you order online through VitalChek, there is an additional fee. You also must pay for any expedited shipping options. 

It’s important to note that the cost for a death certificate request is nonrefundable. Your order cannot be refunded if your record can’t be located or if your request is incomplete. 

Death Records in North Dakota

North Dakota is one of the few states that allows death records to be public. However, there are still important eligibility regulations to be aware of before starting your own order through the North Dakota Department of Vital Records. Whether you’re hoping to keep accurate family history records or close a loved one’s accounts, these are important steps to take.

If you’re requesting a death certificate in North Dakota, the guide above is for you. As long as you’re mindful of your information, identity documents, and the type of record you’re requesting, each step goes smoothly. The death certificate is one of the most important documents you’ll ever request, so make sure you pay close attention to this process. 

If you're a North Dakota 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.

  1. “Death Records by Mail.” North Dakota Department of Health.

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