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Ordering a Death Certificate

What is a death certificate?

A death certificate is an official legal document that includes information from a person's death record. In Pennsylvania, a death certificate is printed on specialized security paper that contains a raised seal.  This document is frequently used for closing financial accounts, settling estates, claiming life insurance and pension beneficiary benefits, cancelling accounts or re-establishing the account holder contact with utility companies, and serving as documentation for a widow/widower to remarry.  

Our office only issues death certificates for deaths that occurred in Pennsylvania since 1906.

You will receive a certified "No Record Certification of Death" if you request a certificate and we cannot identify or find a record using the information you provided.  Therefore, please provide as much information as possible to assist us in locating the requested death record.

For death certificates from other states:  If you need a certificate for someone that died in another state, see the National Center for Health StatisticsOpens In A New Window' website for contact information.

How do I apply for a death certificate?

For online services:  You may order a death certificate online (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) from Pennsylvania's only authorized vendor at www.vitalchek.com.  In addition to the standard death certificate fee of $20, a $10 processing fee also applies. Payment is by credit card. Select First Class Mail® or UPS as your shipping option.

Please note that the Department of Health processes requests for all orders.  Online service providers collect your order and submit it to our office for processing. VitalChek is the only authorized vendor who collects orders on our behalf.  All other online service providers convert your orders to a paper application. Therefore, expect a delay in service if you use an online service provider other than VitalChek.

If you ordered through another online vendor and have experienced a problem in obtaining the certificate, you will need to contact that vendor directly for resolution. If you believe a vendor provides inaccurate information about our services or fees, you may contact the consumer protection office in the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office or the consumer protection agency in the state where you reside or the state where the vendor is located for further assistance.

For telephone services:  You may order a death certificate by calling VitalChek, Pennsylvania's authorized service provider at 866-712-8238 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week).  In addition to the standard death certificate fee of $20, a $10 processing fee also applies. Payment is by credit card. Select First Class Mail® or UPS as your shipping option.

For in-person services:  This service is temporarily unavailable while all Vital Records Offices are closed. Please use one of our other services to place your order.

For mail services:  You may complete an Application for Death Certificate and mail it to the address listed below.  All certificates are mailed using First Class Mail®.  If you require expedited shipping, please apply online and select "UPS" as your shipping option.  

Division of Vital Records
Death Certificate Processing Unit
PO Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Who can apply for a death certificate?

You must complete the following requirements to receive a death certificate.

  • You must complete an Application for Death Certificate.
  • You must show valid identification.
  • You must sign your application.
  • You must be an eligible applicant. Eligible applicants must be 18 years of age or older, and include the following:
    • Spouse
    • Ex-spouse.  An ex-spouse must provide documentation to establish direct interest.
    • Parent or step-parent.  A step-parent must also submit a marriage certificate to support the relationship to the person named on the death certificate.
    • Brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister
    • Son or daughter
    • Step-son or step-daughter (must submit the parent's marriage certificate to support the relationship)
    • Grandparent or great-grandparent
    • Grandchild or great-grandchild
    • Power of Attorney
    • Attorney or legal representative of the decedent's estate (must provide supporting documentation)
    • Representative of the decedent's estate (must provide documentation to establish direct interest)
    • Individual showing a direct financial interest to the decedent (must provide documentation to support direct interest)
    • Government office that has assumed administration of an estate (must provide a letter signed by an official of the government office indicating the purpose for which the applicant is being retained and identifying the estate involved).
    • Extended family members who indicate a direct relationship to the decedent (documentation may be required).
  • You must pay a fee of $20 for each death certificate ordered unless you meet the fee waiver requirements for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. If ordering online, you must also pay a $10 service fee and applicable delivery fees if selecting UPS overnight shipping. 

How long does it take to get a death certificate?

If you need a death certificate quickly, make your request in person at one of our six Vital Records Branch Offices or online at www.vitalchek.com.  

See our Processing Times for current processing times for applications placed online, by telephone or by mail.

Processing times are based upon application receipt date and do not include delivery time.  It may take longer if we need to resolve application issues, for genealogical requests, or if your application involves a subpoena, court order, or power of attorney.  Requests for changes to a death record may also require additional processing.

What is the cost for a death certificate?

The cost for a death certificate is $20 regardless of the quantity that you order.  This fee is established in accordance with Pennsylvania's Administrative Code of 1929.  Payment is deposited upon receipt of your application and is not refundable. 

If ordering online, you must also pay a $10 service fee and applicable delivery fees if selecting UPS overnight shipping.  Fees are non-refundable. Payment may be made by credit card if ordering online or by telephone.  If applying in person or by mail, please submit payment in the form of a check or money order made payable to "VITAL RECORDS".  Cash is not accepted.

To qualify for the fee waiver for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, you or your spouse (includes widow/widower if not remarried) must be in active service or was honorably discharged from service.  The fee is only waived if you are applying for your spouse's death certificate, if you are applying on behalf of a dependent child of the decedent, or if you are the representative of the decedent's estate (supporting documentation will be required).  The funeral home responsible for filing the death record may also apply if the decedent's death record indicates that he/she was a veteran or if the spouse of the decedent is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.  This fee waiver only covers the cost of the death certificate and does not apply to online service fees or UPS delivery fees. 

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions about Pennsylvania death certificates, contact the Division of Vital Records using one of the following methods:

  • Online contact form – Allow two to three business days for a response.
  • Call 724-656-3100 or toll-free at 844-228-3516, Mondays through Fridays 7:15 am to 10:00 pm.