There are many reasons for needing a death certificate. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of obtaining a death certificate in the state of Texas, this task might seem overwhelming or stressful.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Are Death Certificates Public Record in Texas?
- How to Request a Death Certificate in Texas
- How to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Texas
- Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Texas
Processes for obtaining or searching death certificates can vary by state and are subject to change. However, there are convenient methods for obtaining a death certificate in most states.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to access death certificates in Texas, how to get copies, and address some frequently asked questions about obtaining death certificates.
Are Death Certificates Public Record in Texas?
In some states, vital records, such as death certificates, are public record. In a general sense, public record means that a public agency has filed something. More specifically, however, public record indicates that the public can search and access this information. It’s not confidential or privileged.
However, Texas law mandates that birth and death certificates are confidential with restricted access. There are clear-cut eligibility requirements in Texas to request birth and death records. If you meet these requirements, there are easy ways to request these records from the comfort of your home that we’ll discuss in the following section.
Eligibility requirements to request a death certificate in Texas
The eligibility requirements and processes for how to get a death certificate in Texas, like most states, follow fairly common guidelines. However, depending on state stipulations, the method may look a bit different.
- If you are a Texas resident, you can order a death certificate for an immediate family member.
- If you are a resident of another state, you can order a death certificate if you are the surviving spouse, surviving parent, or funeral director listed on record.
How to verify your eligibility and complete the request
After determining which of these two categories you fall into and who you’re requesting a death certificate for, you’ll have to complete the following to successfully obtain the record.
- Verify your identity online: Your state-issued driver's license or ID number, social security number, and relationship to the individual listed on the record.
- Provide the following required information: Date of death, first and last name of deceased listed on record, gender of deceased listed on record, city and county where the death occurred.
- Provide payment: Pay all associated fees with a credit or debit card.
How to Request a Death Certificate in Texas
Now that you’ve collected all of the information and identity requirements, it’s time to order the death certificate. In this section, we’ll discuss where and how to make your request in Texas.
Visit the vital records site for the state of Texas
Going straight to the source (or a .gov) site for the state of Texas specifically for vital statistics will yield the quickest, most hassle-free results. This site has numerous FAQs regarding whether or not you’re immediately eligible, how much the service will cost, and more.
Via the mail
If you’re not comfortable requesting a death certificate online, you can also do so by mail in Texas. If you request by mail or in person, you’ll need to download and fill out an application. You also have the option of processing the request at a standard or expedited rate. With any mailed correspondence, you do run the risk of sending it to the wrong address. Unless you send the request with tracking, you may not realize your error for a while. Be sure to double-check the address and postage.
In person at local offices
For additional guidance in your request for a death certificate, or, perhaps if you have other records to request simultaneously, it may benefit you to visit a local office in person.
However, be advised that counties, cities, and districts set their own hours of operation, fees, and procedures for requests, according to the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services (DSHS). Of note, if you choose to visit in person, you can request a long-form death certificate, which will provide more information than a standard death certificate.
If the above method is unsuccessful for some reason, you can also search death certificates via the state archives for Texas. The archives site for Texas also has a convenient, dedicated genealogy resource.
This resource includes vital statistics indexes, county records, publications and histories (for families, counties, or otherwise), government records, census records, and much more.
If you prefer using services such as ancestry.com, you can also find and request records through this site. If nothing else, using ancestry.com can help you locate family members in other regions of the U.S. or the world.
If you’re worried about cost, you can request death certificates in the free version. Ancestry.com also offers paid versions that many lineage enthusiasts swear by. However, it’s likely unnecessary to purchase unless you’re completing an entire family tree or extensive genealogy project. You can also check out these other free genealogy websites.
How to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Texas
When requesting a death certificate in Texas, you may also find that you need additional copies. However, be advised that there is a difference between death certificates and death verifications.
Death verifications are often all that is required by credit card companies, cell phone providers, and related entities to verify death. You can read more about writing notification of death letters to credit bureaus on Cake’s blog.
Exceptional cases aside, it is still recommended to request five to 10 copies of your loved one’s death certificate. You will also need a death certificate is to notify the IRS of a death. The process for requesting verified copies for more official entities is as follows.
Request copies at the same time as your initial request
Requesting copies at the time of your initial request for a Texas death certificate is the most hassle-free method. It will also be the most cost-effective.
If you request copies at the same time as the initial request, you will only be charged $3 per copy. However, original death certificates cost $20. This can quickly rack up in cost if you have to keep coming back for more copies.
Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Texas
Requesting a death certificate in Texas, as streamlined as officials try to make the process, may still leave you with questions. Here are some frequently asked questions with answers provided by the Texas DSHS website.
What information do you need to get a death certificate?
To obtain a death certificate, you need personal information about the deceased person as well as yourself.
For the deceased person, you’ll need their date of death, the first and last name listed on record, their gender listed on record, and the city and county where the death occurred. For yourself, you’ll need a valid ID, your social security number, as well as your relationship to the deceased.
How much does it cost to get a death certificate in Texas?
For your first death certificate order in Texas, the cost is $20. However, if you’d like copies of the death certificate, each additional death certificate requested at the same time costs $3. This is a common stipulation, as it’s easier for those searching for the records to make copies upon the initial request.
If you don’t request any copies the first go around, you’ll have to pay the same $20 fee again. Be proactive and request a few official copies even if you don’t think you’ll need them. You may be surprised at what you’ll need them for, especially if you’re handling your loved one’s estate (in this case, we recommended 10 copies).
How long does it take to get a death certificate?
You can request death certificates 24/7 online via the Texas DSHS site. If you walk in, it will almost guarantee your request is processed the same day. Other methods will likely have at least a 24-hour waiting period after your request is received.
Depending on your request, how you requested it, and other factors, processing times can vary. Working via the website will get your certificate to you in 10-15 days, whereas mailing in a request will take 25-30 days. These timeframes are also subject to change due to volume and other factors.
Understanding Processes for Peace of Mind
When someone you love passes away, there are seemingly endless tasks, records, arrangements, and more to coordinate. It can certainly be daunting. Even if you’re requesting a death certificate long after a loved one has passed away, it can still feel overwhelming.
For more resources on navigating end-of-life planning, including a checklist, be sure to visit Cake. You can even set up a free digital end-of-life planning profile on Cake’s platform for yourself or a loved one.
If you're a Texas 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.
- Municipal Archives & Records - Birth & Death Records. Sanantonio.gov. https://www.sanantonio.gov/Municipal-Archives-Records/Birth-Death-Records
- Requirements for Online Orders. Texas Department of State Health Services. https://dshs.texas.gov/vs/order/online.aspx#death
- Death Records. Texas Department of State Health Services. https://dshs.texas.gov/vs/death/
- Genealogy Resources. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/genfirst.html