How to Get a Death Certificate in Ontario, Canada: Step-by-Step

Updated

Ordering a death certificate for a loved one is a way to keep an accurate record of your family’s history or handle someone’s final affairs. Still, knowing how to get a death certificate isn’t always straightforward. In Canada, the application process to request a death certificate is different depending on the province, and you also need to understand eligibility rules. 

With that in mind, how do you start a death certificate search, and what do you need to begin? Luckily, Ontario, Canada makes it relatively simple to start this process. Most requests can be completed online from the comfort of your home as long as you have the right information. 

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This guide details how to get a death certificate in Ontario, Canada with step-by-step instructions. Depending on the type of certificate you’re requesting as well as the year of death, this is a simple, fast process. Read below to get started on your death certificate search. 

What Do You Need to Get a Death Certificate in Ontario?

In order to get a death certificate in Ontario, you need to know key information from the death certificate. This includes information about their place of death, date of death, parental information, and so on. This is to help guide the search with the Vital Records Office. 

Additionally, you might need to complete a Next of Kin Certification depending on the type of certificate you need. There are two types of death records you can request:

  • Certified: A certified death record has been validated by the government of Ontario, and it includes an official seal. These are used for legal and financial matters, and you must be a next of kin to receive this type of document. 
  • Non-certified: Alternatively, you can request a non-certified death record. This is an informational copy that anyone can apply for, but it does not have sensitive information about the deceased. 

Most people only need a non-certified record unless they’re handling someone’s accounts or benefits. The certified copy is only available to those who qualify as a next of kin, including parents, spouses, siblings, and adult children. Extended next of kin may apply if the next of kin are deceased.

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Steps for Requesting a Death Certificate in Ontario

If you’re ready to request a death certificate in Ontario, Canada, follow the steps below. The application is online-only, and the form encourages you to fill out each step on a desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, your application needs to be completed in a single session online. Pay close attention to the steps below to begin your search with confidence. 

Step 1: Wait the required time

Before you begin, make sure you’ve waited enough time for your death certificate to be available. You can apply online for any vital record that is registered in Ontario, Canada. However, registration takes between 10 to 16 weeks from the death. 

Additionally, it’s important to note that requests for death certificates from before 1980 may or may not be electronic. In 1980, all death records became electronic. That means those before 1980 might take additional time to search or process. 

Step 2: Visit the online application

When you’re ready to start, visit the online application through the Ontario Vital Record website. This is the only online application approved by the Vital Records Office of Ontario. Though you might find third-party services offering these records, they might cost an additional fee or come from suspicious websites. Always be mindful of where you enter your personal information online. 

Once you get to the landing page, click “Begin Application” to start the online portal. You’ll be guided through a set of steps for each part of the application. Read through the welcome steps and tips before you begin to learn more about how the online application uses your personal information. 

Step 3: Complete your applicant information

The first part of the Ontario Death Record Application is about you as the applicant. Fill in all required fields at this step. You need to enter your name, organization name (if applicable), and mailing address. If your shipping address is located outside of Canada, enter the full mailing address and your phone number. 

Confirm your applicant information in the next step. Note that online search guarantees do not apply for international orders, and there might be an additional cost to mail your documents overseas. 

Step 4: Enter information about the deceased

Next, confirm the type of certificate you’re applying for and consent for this information to be released. Now it’s time to enter information about the deceased. This information should match the data on the death record. 

You must enter the name of the deceased, their place of death, date of death, sex, marital status, and date of birth. The more information you include, the faster your search will be completed. While you can still submit an incomplete application, it leads to processing days. 

Once you’ve confirmed basic information, there is space to enter optional information. While not required, this helps the Vital Records Office locate records quickly and accurately. It’s encouraged that you include parent information and spouse information (if applicable).

Step 5: Select the type and quantity of records

The next step is to choose the type of death record you need. You can choose between a death certificate with the basic information around someone’s death or a longer certified copy of the statement of death. The longer version has more information, including signatures. This is used for legal and financial matters. 

The death certificate alone is $15, and the certified copy of the statement of death is $22. You can choose a combination of the two documents and multiple quantities as needed. 

Step 6: Indicate your relationship

You also need to indicate and confirm your relationship with the deceased. If you’re applying for a death certificate only (an informational copy), you don’t need to be a next of kin. Otherwise, you need to check the Next of Kin certification. Only the following count as next of kin:

  • Spouse
  • Common-law partner
  • Parent
  • Adult child
  • Sibling

If all of the above are deceased, an extended next of kin may apply in their place. This includes aunts, uncles, grandchildren, grandparents, nephews, and nieces. If you’re an authorized representative of the next of kin, you may apply. 

Step 7: Select your reason for applying

Once you’ve confirmed your relationship with the deceased, if applicable, you must choose your reason for the application request. There is no “right” answer, but this is necessary for record-keeping purposes. 

Possible choices include:

  • Immigration
  • Pension benefits
  • Insurance
  • Estate settlement

If none of the above apply, enter your own reason under “other.” This is a required question, and it will be kept with your application with the government. 

Step 8: Submit your application online or by mail

Last but not least, submit your application. You can choose to either submit online or by mail. If you submit online, you can pay with a credit card through the secure online portal. However, if you feel more comfortable paying by cheque or money order, you can choose to print and mail your application. 

If you pay with a cheque or money order, make all fees payable to the Office of the Registrar General. Otherwise, complete the steps to submit your application online. At this time, you can choose to expedite your order (for Canadian shipping addresses online). This costs an extra fee, but it guarantees your record sent your way in 5 days. This premium service costs $30. 

It’s important to note that online applications are processed faster than mail-in applications. Mail applications take up to 5 weeks, so online is generally more convenient. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Ontario Death Certificates

With so many reasons why you may need a death certificate, it’s completely normal to have questions along the way. To ensure your application is processed smoothly, read through these frequently asked questions below. 

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

The time it takes to get a death certificate in Ontario, Canada depends on the way you order. The general processing times are as follows:

  • Emergency request: If you request an emergency record by contacting the record office directly, this can take up to 1 business day. 
  • Expedited: Online, you can choose to order an expedited request for an additional fee. These take 3 to 5 business days after being received. 
  • Regular online: Regularly online requests take up to 15 days to process. There is no additional fee for this processing time. 
  • Regular mail: Lastly, if you order by mail, processing times are up to 5 weeks after receipt of your request. 

Visit the ServiceOntario website for updated information on processing times as well as information about the current status of your order. The easiest way to check your request is through the online status portal or by contacting the record office directly at 1-800-461-2156

Are death certificates public record in Ontario?

Death certificates are public record in Ontario, Canada. However, longer, certified death records are only available to those who qualify under the Next of Kin certification. These are immediate family members like spouses, parents, children, and siblings. Otherwise, only limited death records are accessible. 

Can you get a death certificate for free?

You can get free death certificates in Ontario, Canada for older records. More specifically, you can see death registrations and indexes up to 1942 through the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. These government archives protect these documents for research purposes, and they are open to the public online. 

Order a Death Record in Ontario, Canada

If you’re trying to request a death record in Ontario, Canada, you’ll be relieved to discover that it’s as simple as completing the online request form. While you will need to certify your relationship with the deceased depending on the type of document you’re requesting, this is an accessible, simplified process. 

A death record is an important part of someone’s legacy. By requesting and protecting this document, you’re keeping someone’s memory alive and well. Now that you know how to apply for a death certificate online, it’s time to take the first step. 


Sources

  1. “Online Certificate Application.” Canada: Ontario Government Forms: Frequently Asked Questions. OrgForms.gov.on.ca.
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