How to Get a Death Certificate in Vermont: Step-by-Step

Updated

There are a lot of valid reasons why you might need to get a death certificate. These reasons for needing a death certificate include finalizing someone’s estate after death, conducting genealogy research, or keeping accurate records. No matter why you need to get a death certificate, it’s not always clear where to begin. Death records vary by state, so how do you get a death certificate in Vermont?

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Not only do you need to know whether Vermont is a closed record state, but you also need to know the process for requesting a death certificate. This is typically a multi-step process, though it’s easy to get started online. If you’re wondering how to get a death certificate, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we outline how to get a death certificate in Vermont step-by-step. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to vital records, but this guide is a great place to start. Taking the time to look up these essential records is an act of remembrance, and it’s something you can do with confidence. 

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

If you wish to get a death certificate in Vermont, you’ll need to determine the type of document you’d like to request. A certified death certificate is a legal document, and these are used for a variety of legal tasks. However, you must have a valid claim to these documents, and you also need to prove proper identification or supporting documents to back up this claim. 

On the other hand, if you’re requesting an older death certificate, these are open to anyone. There are no strict public record laws after 10 years, and these records are released to the general public.

That being said, these are death certificate copies. They cannot be used for any legal purpose, though many use them for genealogy research. If you wish to send an IRS death notification or close a bank account, for example, you will need a certified death certificate. 

In order to get a death certificate in Vermont, you need a few pieces of key information about the deceased. The more information you provide, the faster your search can be completed. If any information is incorrect, you could slow down or delay the search altogether. You need:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • Their birth date
  • Town of death
  • Their sex
  • Parent(s) name(s) (optional)

Additionally, you will also need to verify your own identity. This is in the form of your address, valid ID(s), and any required court documents. Though this might sound complicated, you can complete most of this with a simple application or through an online application form. 

Steps to Get an Original Death Certificate in Vermont

If you’re ready to start a death certificate search, follow these steps below to get started. These steps are specifically for requesting a certified death certificate. These can be used for legal purposes, like notification of death letters to credit bureaus or accessing death benefits. 

1. Determine if you’re eligible

First, before you begin this process, make sure you’re eligible to apply for this type of death record. Certified records contain sensitive information, and that means they’re only available to those who qualify. Who qualifies in the state of Vermont?

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Legal guardian
  • Executor of estate
  • Estate petitioner
  • Someone authorized by court order
  • Authorized agency

If any of the above apply to you, you may request a certified copy of the death certificate. Otherwise, you will not be able to get a certified copy through the Vermont Department of Vital Records unless you obtain court authorization. Note, you will have to provide identifying documents to prove your relationship with the deceased. 

2. Apply online, by mail, or in-person

Next, if you’ve determined you’re eligible to apply for a certified death certificate, it’s time to start your application. There are multiple options in the state of Vermont:

  • Online: The easiest way to apply is online. Though this requires a service fee for the convenience, it’s the fastest way to request your death certificate without leaving the house. The Department of Vital Affairs has its own online portal for this process. 
  • By mail: Another option is to complete a record request by mail. Make sure you include all supplemental verification documents to complete your request. 
  • In-person: Lastly, you can also request a certified death certificate in person. The easiest way to do this is to find your nearest Town Clerk’s office. Check the latest office hours to ensure they’re accepting walk-in appointments. 

No matter which method you choose, you’ll still complete a similar application and pay the required fees. However, different methods can have their own wait times and delays, so consider your timeline when applying. 

3. Share information about the record

The first step when completing your request for a certified document is to share information found on the record. This includes the name of the deceased, their date of death, and their place of death. If they had any alternative names (maiden name, for example), be sure to include this as well. 

In addition, share the names of his or her parents. Though optional, the more information you provide, the easier it is to locate the correct record. Also indicate their sex as noted on their death certificate. Double-check all information to make sure it’s written correctly before you submit your application. 

4. Verify your identity

Next, indicate your relationship with the deceased. You will need to share your own information, like your full name, address, and authorization for this document. You will need to upload or submit a copy of your ID, passport, or other identifying documents. This is used to make sure you meet all eligibility requirements for this record. 

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5. Pay the required fee

Before you submit your application, you also need to pay the required fee. This covers the cost of the record search as well as printing and mailing the document. Certified copies cost a fee of $10 per copy if you purchase them in person or by mail. If you purchase copies online, the fee is $12 per copy. 

Additionally, you have the option to request expedited shipping online for $14.50. This is not required, but it speeds up the search process. If submitting by mail or in-person, make your check or money order payable to the “Vermont Department of Health.” Note, this fee is non-refundable even if your record is not found. 

6. Submit your request

Lastly, it’s time to submit your request to the Department of Vital Records in Vermont. Before you submit, confirm all of your information is correct. Any misspellings or mistakes could delay the search or prevent your record from being found at all. 

Once you submit your request, you will need to wait for it to be completed. While same-day service might be possible if you visit a Town Clerk’s office, this isn’t always offered. After being received, most requests will be shipped within 5 to 7 business days. If you pay for expedited service, these will be completed faster. 

Steps to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Vermont

If you need a copy of a death certificate, not a certified version, the process is different than the one outlined above. In Vermont, record copies are available for free to all. Copies of records from 1760 to 2008 are available online for free through specific avenues. 

1. Make sure you don’t need a certified copy

First, determine the type of record you need. While free death certificate copies are available online, these can’t be used for any legal purpose. They can be used for family research, academics, genealogy, and record-keeping purposes. If you need a certified copy for any legal purpose, order your record through the Department of Vital Records. 

2. Search for your record online

To begin, you can search for birth or death records online for free through the Vermont government search tool. This searchable index has records from 1909 until present day. This shares some information openly about the death, though some information is limited to only family and authorized parties. 

3. Use a genealogy tool

If you’re unable to find the record using Vermont’s search tool (or if you’re looking for an older record), you can use a genealogy search tool. The Vermont Department of Vital Records recommends using a tool like Family Search or Ancestry.

Ancestry has free access to birth and death certificates for Vermont residents. If you verify your location through the Vermont portal on Ancestry’s website, you can access these documents for free. Otherwise, you’ll need a paid Ancestry membership. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Vermont

Because ordering death certificates can be complicated, it’s normal to have questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about death certificates in Vermont and their answers. 

Are death certificates public record in Vermont?

Death certificates are public record in Vermont. However, that doesn’t mean all information is available to the public. Things like social security numbers and causes of death are kept confidential for the family’s privacy. However, free records can be found online. Only certified records can be used for legal purposes. 

Who can request or correct a death certificate in Vermont?

Only direct family or authorized parties can request or correct a certified death certificate in Vermont. Unless you’re an authorized agent or have a court document, you will need to be acting on behalf of the estate. You can also be a direct family member, like a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased. This is for the privacy of the family and the deceased. 

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

The time it takes to get a death certificate in Vermont varies. The fastest way is to visit your local Town Clerk’s office and apply in person. However, if you send a request via mail or online, you can expect it to take 5 to 7 business days. This doesn’t take into account current shipping times. 

Access Death Records in Vermont

Whether you’re closing a loved one’s accounts or managing their estate, this is an act of compassion. Taking the time to remember those you’ve lost goes a long way in protecting their legacy. If you’re seeking a death record in Vermont, there is a lot to know. Luckily, with the help of this guide, it’s easy to start your search. 

Do you know what steps to take after someone dies? Our post-loss checklist is here to guide you each step of the way. Remember, you’re never alone. 

If you're a Vermont 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.


Sources:
  1. “Death Certificates.” Vermont Department of Health. HealthVermont.gov.
  2. “Vital Records.” Vermont Secretary of State. Vermont.gov. 
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