Begin Main Content Area

Death Certificate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I check the status of my Application for a Death Certificate?

If you have not received your death certificate within the average processing time from the date the application was received, call 724-656-3100 for assistance. If possible, please have your cancelled check information available.

Where can I obtain a death certificate if the death occurred in another state?

If you need a certificate for someone that died in another state, see the National Center for Health Statistics' website for contact information.

Do foreign countries accept deaths certificate issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health? Must it be further authenticated with an apostille or certification?

If you need a death certificate for international purposes, the death certificate must include the signature of the state registrar.  If you received a death certificate from a local registrar it will not include the state registrar's signature.  To order a death certificate that includes the state registrar's signature, please complete an Application for a Death Certificate.
Many foreign countries will require the authentication of the signature of the state registrar listed on the death certificate. This authentication is done through the issuance of an Apostille.  Once you receive the death certificate that is signed by the state registrar, you must take it to the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation at the Pennsylvania Department of State to receive the Apostille. Visit the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation website for additional information on fees and processing.

To find out specific requirements for the country you are working with, contact that country's Embassy or Office of the Consul.

Is the fee for a death certificate waived for military personnel?

Yes, the fee may be waived for death certificates if the decedent or the decedent's spouse was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who was in active service at time of death or was honorably discharged.  The applicant must be one of the following:

  • The decedent's legal spouse
  • A dependent child
  • A representative of the decedent's estate (supporting documentation is required)
  • The funeral director listed on the death certificate (if the decedent is listed as a veteran).

Where can I obtain a copy of a death certificate if the death occurred before 1906?

Information on death records that occurred prior to 1906 can be obtained by contacting the appropriate Pennsylvania County Courthouse. Visit the Orphans' Court Clerks website for a list of county courthouses.

Is a raised (embossed) seal required to make a death certificate official?

Yes. All death certificates contain a raised (embossed) seal.  

How do I find a cemetery plot, burial place or place of cremation?

If the individual was buried, the death certificate should list the cemetery's name and address. Please contact the cemetery official to obtain the exact location of the burial plot.
If the individual was cremated, the death certificate should list the crematorium's name and address.