How to Obtain a Death Certificate in Minnesota: Step-By-Step

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Requesting a death certificate involves an important process, especially if you will handle a loved one’s affairs after death. However, understanding how to get a death certificate isn’t always straightforward. Because requirements vary by state, you need to ensure you understand your state’s laws before you proceed with your application. 

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Curious about why you may need a death certificate? In Minnesota, you can apply for a death certificate in three different ways: online, by mail, or in person at a vital records office. Each option has its own pros and cons, so you must determine the right fit for your needs. In addition, you need to pay close attention to Minnesota’s eligibility rules since privacy laws protect vital records in this state. 

Now that you know your options, how do you obtain a death certificate in Minnesota? Read this full step-by-step guide to get started. 

Who Can Request Death Certificates in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, you need to get authorized to apply for a death certificate, whether you're a relative or authorized by the court. Only those eligible can make a death certificate search with the state of Minnesota to protect the privacy of the deceased and family. 

Who can request a death certificate in Minnesota? 

  • Adult children
  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Sibling
  • Grandparents
  • Adult grandchildren
  • Licensed mortician or funeral director filing the death record
  • The personal representative of the estate
  • Trustee of a trust

Any of the above individuals can request a death certificate without needing to show additional supporting documents beyond an ID. However, all of the following individuals can also request a death certificate with supporting documentation:

  • An individual or company with a personal or property right
  • Adoption agency (for a post-adoption search)
  • Attorney
  • An individual or company with a court order
  • A local, state, tribal, or federal government agency
  • Anyone with a signed statement acting on behalf of a decedent
  • A representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs

If you don’t qualify as an eligible applicant, your request will go through. Make sure you closely follow the eligibility laws and provide the right ID or documentation when starting the steps below. 

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How to Request a Death Certificate in Minnesota

Whether you need to keep family records for genealogical purposes or you need to send a notification of death letter to the credit bureaus, you can order a death certificate in Minnesota relatively easily. After you’ve confirmed your eligibility based on the laws above, complete the steps below. 

Step 1: Choose your method.

Before you begin, choose how you’d like to complete your request. In Minnesota, you can request a death certificate in three ways. They each have their own advantages and fees, so keep that in mind before beginning your request. 

  • Online: Like other states, you can complete a request for any vital record like a death certificate using a third-party service called VitalChek, the only approved third-party service in Minnesota. 
  • Mail: You could also complete a death certificate application by mail. If you choose this method, ensure you include verification documents and get your application notarized. 
  • In person: Lastly, you can visit any Minnesota vital record office to complete an application in person. Check local office hours before planning your visit. 

If you need a death certificate quickly, visit in person. However, ordering by mail or online might offer more convenience if you’re not under a time constraint. Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you. 

Step 2: Enter information about the deceased.

The first part of the death certificate application in Minnesota asks about information found on the death certificate. Officials use this information to search for your request death record, so include as many specifics as possible. If you’re unsure, you can include a range (such as a range of years to search) or what you know. 

You need to include the name of the deceased, date of death, date of birth (or age), city of death, county of death, parents’ names, spouse's name (if any). If you don’t have all of the information, it’s best to complete an application in person or by mail. 

Step 3: Select the type of death certificate

Next, Minnesota offers three different types of death certificates. You can choose one that includes death information or excludes this information, depending on your needs. For most financial and legal purposes, you don’t need cause of death information. For example, if you wish to notify the IRS of a death, you don’t need the cause of death information. 

The three types of death certificates you can choose from in Minnesota include the following:

  • Certificate with the cause of death information: Certified copies of the death certificate include sensitive cause of death information, common for family history or genealogical purposes.  
  • Certificate without cause of death information: These certified copies of the death certificate exclude the sensitive cause of death information used for most legal and financial purposes. They also protect the privacy of the family for records available for records from 1997 until today. 
  • VA certificate: Lastly, the Department of Veterans Affairs can request a VA death certificate for any VA-related purpose. 

Each death certificate, regardless of type, costs the same (except for VA certificates). Consider the purpose of your request when deciding which one makes sense for you. 

Step 4: Share your information.

As the applicant, you also need to share your information, which is used to verify your identity and ensure you’re authorized to receive a certified death certificate. You need to share your name, date of birth, mailing address, daytime phone number, and email. 

It’s important to make sure your mailing address is correct. This is the address used to send your certified copies, so the wrong address could result in delays. 

Step 5: Indicate your relationship with the deceased.

Next, indicate your relationship with the deceased. You must check one of the boxes. If you’re an immediate relative of the deceased, you do not need to include any additional supplemental documents (aside from your ID). 

On the other hand, if you check boxes 11 to 16 on the paper application (or you’re not an immediate family member on the online application), you need to share copies of authorization documents. These can include copies of court orders, employee IDs, licenses, etc. 

Step 6: Pay the appropriate fee.

In Minnesota, you also need to pay a fee to get copies of the death certificate. This fee covers the cost of the search as well as printing the copies. The first certified death certificate costs $13. Each additional copy costs $6. You won't pay anything for copies of Veteran Affairs-related purposes. 

You also have the option to request a faster processing time for an additional $20 fee. If you choose to send your order through UPS instead of regular mail, you'll pay another $16. Lastly, if you order through VitalChek, you'll pay a $7 fee to use this third-party service. 

You cannot pay with cash. If you order online, you can use a credit card. If you order in person or by mail, you can use a credit card or pay with a check or money order. Make all payments payable to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Step 7: Verify your identity.

Lastly, you need to verify your identity. If you use VitalChek, follow any additional instructions before submitting. If you visit an in-person office, the service desk will check your ID. 

If you complete a paper application by mail, you need to sign the form in front of a notary public. They will verify your identity in the notary section of the application. If your document is not notarized, your request will get returned. 

Step 8: Submit your request.

Once you’ve confirmed everything is correct, submit your request. If you submit by mail, address your application to:

Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 64499
St. Paul, MN 55164-0499

Alternatively, if you wish to visit in person, locate your neared Minnesota Vital Records Office. Check the latest service hours to ensure they’re open before you visit. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Death Certificates in Minnesota

Because death certificates can be tricky to apply for, read through the frequently asked questions below. These shine a light on the most common questions. 

How long does it typically take to receive a death certificate in Minnesota?

The average processing times depend on the number of factors, like the type of request you submit as well as your method for applying. If you apply in person, you can often receive a death certificate while you wait if it’s on file. 

Otherwise, if you submit an order by mail or online through VitalChek, the current processing times take up to 30 days. If you need your order sooner, you can pay for express service. 

Can you view Minnesota death certificates online?

You can access some Minnesota death certificates online through the Minnesota Historical Society. The only records available include those available as part of the public record, so no recent death certificates are included. 

Through the Minnesota Historical Society Archives, you can find death certificates from 1908 through 2001. You can also find death cards from 1904 to 1907. 

Is there any other way to find a Minnesota resident’s death date?

Unless you’re eligible to apply for a death certificate, you can't find a Minnesota resident’s death date any other way. If the death occurred prior to 2002, you can search for the record through the state archives. 

That being said, the family might publish the death date within a death announcement or obituary online. You might not need to use the state’s Department of Health to find this information if the family chose to make it public. 

Find a Death Record in Minnesota

You can access death records in Minnesota in three ways, and this involves a straightforward process as long as you’re eligible under privacy laws. Since death records aren’t public in Minnesota, pay close attention to who can access these documents before you apply. 

Whether you keep an accurate family record or you close someone’s accounts after death, this protects their legacy and helps their family members practice remembrance. 


Sources:
  1. “Death Certificates.” Minnesota Department of Health. Health.State.MN.us
  2. “Death Certificate Application and Instructions.” State of Minnesota Department of Health. Health.State.MN.us
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