Death certificate definition

A death certificate can refer to the document that is issued by a person, usually a registrar of vital records, that declares the date, location, and cause of a person’s death.

There are different reasons why you might need to obtain a death certificate. Usually they are needed to serve as proof for legal purposes, for instance, accessing pension benefits, claiming life insurance or settling estates. Death certificates are required to arrange a deceased's burial service, and to execute a will.

What is on a death certificate

Death records, (death certificates, obituaries or funeral home records) can include different data about the deceased, including:

  • Names of their parents
  • Names of their siblings, children, and spouse
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage
  • Occupation
  • Military service
  • Cause of death