How to Get a Death Certificate in South Dakota: Step-by-Step


There are many reasons for needing a death certificate. You may have recently lost a loved one and are handling their affairs. Or, perhaps, you’re simply completing some genealogical research for your family tree. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

Regardless of the reason, the process for obtaining or completing a death certificate search can vary by state. In this post, we’ll discuss the ease of accessing death certificates in South Dakota, how to request them, and how to obtain copies. We’ll also address some frequently asked questions!

What Do You Need to Get a Death Certificate in South Dakota?

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, vital records filed in South Dakota are not open for public inspection. 

Family members of the deceased and other authorized parties can request death certificates from the state. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements, including providing proof of identity. Depending on which request method you choose, you’re able to verify identity in different ways. 

The State Vital Records Office can then issue an informational or certified copy of a vital record. Wondering what certified copies look like? They’re computer-generated and printed on security paper. They are marked with a raised seal and the signature of the issuing agent. 

» MORE: You need more than a will. Start here.

Specifics on what you need to get a certified copy

To get a certified copy of a death certificate in South Dakota, you have to be eligible. To prove eligibility, you’ll be required to show ID or other documentation. Then you’ll submit an application and pay applicable fees.

Steps to Get a Death Certificate in South Dakota

There are specific steps to follow to get a death certificate in South Dakota. Depending on your preference, you can choose which method will be easiest for you. Here are some general tips for how to get a death certificate.

Gather the correct information and fees

As detailed above, you will have to meet the eligibility requirements for requesting a certified copy of a death certificate in South Dakota.

Depending on which method you choose, you may have to show ID, fill out an application, or some combination of the two. You may also have to prepare a check or money order as not all methods accept cards.

In-person requests

Some states have halted in-person services due to Covid-19. However, according to the South Dakota Department of Health site, you can still visit the State Office or any Register of Deeds to make an in-person request. 

You will be required to complete and sign an application, submit the appropriate fee, and provide proof of identity. Deaths before 1960 are available for same-day issuance, but only at the county of occurrence.

» MORE: It's time to take your pre-planning seriously. Become a free member.

Request by mail

According to the South Dakota health site, you can order by mail to any Register of Deeds or to the State Office

South Dakota Department of Health
207 E Missouri Ave Suite 1A
Pierre, SD 57501

Mail requests require a completed application with a clear copy of a photo ID. Alternatively, you can sign your application in front of a notary and have it notarized. You will also need to send the appropriate fee in the form of check or money order.

Request online or via phone

For your convenience, you can process phone or online requests through an independent company called VitalChek, which is a service trusted by many states. VitalChek can be reached either through its website or by phone at 605-773-4961.

All major credit cards are accepted by VitalChek. Charges for the certificate are $15 plus the VitalChek fee of $6.50. The expedited fee, if you choose, is an additional $5. Finally, an optional UPS Next Day charge is $17.50.

Request copies or verifications at the time of your initial request

If you are requesting a certified copy of a death certificate, you’ll likely need more than just one copy. However, in some cases, you may only need death verifications and not certificates. 

Death verifications are typically all that is required by credit card companies, cell phone providers, and the likes to verify the death of your loved one and close accounts. You’ll want to send over a notification of death letter to credit bureaus along with the verification.

Along with verifications, we recommend requesting five to ten copies of your loved one’s death certificate. In some states, there is a limit for how many copies you can order at a time, and fees vary. In South Dakota, you also have the option of informational copies and photostatic copies: 

  • Informational copies: These copies are issued on plain paper and contain the statement "For informational purposes only. Not for legal proof of identification." Informational copies do not contain a raised seal or the signature of the issuing agent. Informational copies are printed from a computer. 
  • Photostatic copies: This record is a photocopy of the original. This record is more complete than an informational copy. Generally, these copies are used for genealogy purposes.

Requesting all of the types and copies of death certificates at once when you make your initial request is the most hassle-free and cost-effective way.

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in South Dakota

The answers to the FAQs below are courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Health site. 

» MORE: Planning a funeral? Get access to discounts in minutes.

Are death certificates public record in South Dakota?

In some states, vital records are public record. A public record means that something has been filed by a public agency. The public can search and access this information—it is not confidential.

It is important to note that vital records filed in South Dakota are not open for public inspection. Only family members, next of kin, and other authorized parties can access vital records in South Dakota.

Who can request a death certificate in South Dakota?

Individuals eligible for a certified copy of a death certificate in South Dakota include:

Individuals eligible for certified copies of death certificates include:

  • A spouse, child, parent, or guardian
  • Next of kin which could include grandparents, siblings, etc.
  • An authorized agent such as an attorney, physician, or funeral director
  • A designated agent is someone who is typically given authority by the deceased before they pass
  • Someone who has a personal or property right

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

To get a death certificate in South Dakota, you have the option of turnaround times in as little as 1 to 3 days with overnight services and expedited fees. However, if you choose to mail in a request or complete one in person, you should expect to wait a week or even several weeks, depending on processing times.

Making a request by mail will take the longest, of course, as you’ll have to wait for the request to reach the office, be processed, and then make its way back to you. 

Tackle That To-Do List

Though tying up loose ends can seem daunting, getting a death certificate in South Dakota is a pretty straightforward process. With proper research and mindfulness around which request method works best for you, you’re closer to checking one more thing off your to-do list.

For more resources on navigating end-of-life planning, including a handy checklist, be sure to visit Cake. You’ll be able to set up a free digital end-of-life planning profile on Cake’s platform for yourself and your loved ones. 

If you're a South 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. "Eligibility Requirements." South Dakota Department of Health.
  2. "Order Death Records." South Dakota Department of Health.
  3. "Order Your Vital Records Online." VitalChek.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.