How to Mail a Death Certificate: Step-by-Step


There are a lot of times when you might need to mail a death certificate. While completing a death certificate search is relatively straightforward, what comes afterward? Because the death certificate is a vital record with a lot of important, sensitive information, how do you mail a death certificate securely?

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With endless legal and financial reasons for needing a death certificate, it’s very likely you’ll find yourself needing to mail this document. Luckily, there are additional steps you can take to make sure your death certificate arrives securely. You want to make sure your loved one’s death certificate doesn’t get lost or fall into the wrong hands in transit. 

Shipping can be complicated, especially when you’re shipping sensitive documents. In this guide, we share clear step-by-step instructions for how to mail a death certificate with confidence. 

What Supplies Will You Need to Mail a Death Certificate?

To begin, you need a few specific supplies to mail a death certificate. The good news is that these are easy to find, and you likely already have some in your home. Aside from knowing how to get a death certificate from your local vital records office, you also need the following:

  • Envelope: Of course, you need the right envelope when mailing a document. It’s best to avoid folding the death certificate, so get a letter-sized envelope that fits the full size without any bending or creasing. You can get a legal envelope for heavier documents at your local post office or craft store. 
  • Privacy folder: In some cases, your envelope won’t be thick enough to obscure information inside. This is when you might need a privacy folder. This can be a folder, thick cardstock, or anything else that’s placed between the envelope and the certificate. 
  • Tape: Some envelopes have their own adhesive, but others don’t. You might need packing tape to keep the envelope securely closed. However, don’t overdo this since it can be difficult to open the envelope without damaging the death certificate. 
  • Death certificate: Don’t forget to double-check that you have the right type of death certificate. You might need a certified copy or an uncertified copy, depending on your needs. For most legal matters, you need a certified copy. 
  • Letter: Last but not least, you might need a letter along with your death certificate. This could explain the purpose of the death certification, like a formal request to close a deceased loved one’s account. Ask your recipient what type of written notice you need to mail with the death certificate.

When you have all of the above supplies, you’re ready to begin the process. Most of these things can be found for free at your local postal carrier office. The right supplies ensure your death certificate is protected and kept safe throughout its journey to its final destination. 

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Can You Fold a Death Certificate?

A common question about death certificates is whether you can fold these documents. If you’re mailing a death certificate, can you fold it to fit it into a smaller envelope? In short, yes. You can fold a death certificate to mail it. However, this has a lot of risks. 

When you fold a death certificate, you could damage it, cause a crack, or tear the paper. Since certified copies can only be received from your local vital records office, you might damage your death certificate beyond repair. It’s up to the discretion of your recipient whether or not this is acceptable. 

If you absolutely must fold a death certificate, do your best to protect the important information on the document. Fold the paper gently, keeping creases minimal. Don’t create a fold over any official seals or important information. When in doubt, make sure you have the right envelope size to avoid needing to fold it in the first place. 

Steps for Mailing a Death Certificate

If you’re ready to mail a death certificate, it’s helpful to have clear steps to follow. Sending important documents takes more care and consideration than mailing other types of things, and you want to keep your document safe. 

1. Find the right envelope size

First, make sure you choose the right envelope size for your death certificate. You want your envelope to be “legal” size, meaning it’s equipped to handle the full size of the death certificate without folding or creasing it. The best sizes are:

  • 13in x 10in
  • 9.5in x 12.5in
  • 9.75 x 12.25in

These sizes above fit most legal documents. They come in a variety of tones and colors, helping you keep your document secure and private. Choose an envelope with the right cardstock weight to make sure everything is safe. 

2. Place the files inside the envelope

Next, put all of your files inside the envelope. This includes the death certificate and any other written documents you might have, including confirmations and so on. Once placed inside the envelope, determine if you need a privacy screen or any additional padding. Secure your documents inside with tape or an adhesive. 

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3. Choose the right type of mail

Another important step is to consider the type of mail. While you can send it via regular mail, this runs the risk of getting lost or falling into the wrong hands. It’s highly recommended that you use registered mail. You can require a signature and return receipt. This also includes a tracking number, keeping your information safe. 

4. Monitor your document’s progress

Last but not least, monitor your document’s progress as it travels to its final destination. If you shipped the document with upgraded mail, you’ll have access to tracking information. Keep an eye on this and follow up with your recipient to make sure the death certificate was received. Once it’s received, you can get rid of the tracking information. 

It’s a good idea to confirm with these agencies or services that your loved one’s account is closed. Keep any documents for your records, and continue checking their bank statements and accounts for up to 90 days. 

Tips for Mailing a Death Certificate To...

There are many key places you’ll have to mail a death certificate to. Each agency has its own requirements and requests, so read through their specific needs closely to avoid wasting time and money. These are the most common places you’ll need to mail a death certificate after the loss of a loved one. 

To a credit bureau

After a loss, you have to send what’s called a notification of death letter to credit bureaus. This protects your loved one’s credit, making it impossible for scammers to open future lines of credit in your loved one’s name. You need to mail an official copy of the death certificate to the credit bureaus, but you also need to include additional information:

  • Legal name of the deceased
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death
  • Your contact information

If you fail to include something in your file, you might have to re-send additional information. This delays the process of closing your loved one’s credit, and it could impact their financial legacy. 

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To the Social Security Administration (SSA)

Additionally, you have to notify the Social Security Administration of a death. This is especially true if you’re applying for benefits or if your loved one receives aid through Social Security or Medicare. 

You cannot report a death online. You will need to mail a copy of the death certificate along with an application, your contact information, and the social security number of the deceased. When in doubt, contact your local social security office for assistance. 

To the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Last but not least, you might need to send an IRS death notification for tax purposes. To do this, you’ll mail a copy of the death certificate directly to the IRS campus where the deceased would normally file his or her taxes. You can check for an address on the IRS’s website under paper tax returns. 

Another option is to send a copy of the death certificate with your loved one’s final tax return. Depending on the date of death, it might be more practical to mail them both at the same time. You cannot notify the IRS of a death online or through other tax software. 

Mail a Death Certificate Safely

Ultimately, you don’t want to treat mailing a death certificate like any other document. Unlike other types of mail, this has sensitive information about the deceased. This means it could fall into the wrong hands, being used for fraudulent activity. It’s important to protect your loved one’s digital and financial legacy even after death. Taking care to mail their death certificate promptly and correctly is key.

No matter why you’re mailing a death certificate, consider your next steps carefully. The last thing you want is this information to fall into the wrong hands or to be used for identity theft. The good news is that simple preventative measures go a long way. Thanks to this guide, you know how to mail a death certificate with ease.


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