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How to Find a Death Record in Maryland?

What Are Death Records in Maryland?

In Maryland, death records are vital records that contain information about deaths that occured within the state. A death record serves as an official proof of death and details the deceased's personal data and the events surrounding the death. A typical Maryland death record contains the following information:

  • Full name of the deceased
  • Deceased’s biodata, including sex, color or race, etc.
  • Place of death
  • Usual residence before death
  • Date and hour of death
  • Parental and marital
  • Social security number
  • Usual occupation, including kind of business or industry
  • Informant’s details
  • Cause of death
  • Medical certification

Death records are important documents used by government agencies to amend electoral registers, passport records, government benefits paid, etc. Death records can also be used to close bank accounts, transfer real and personal property titles, monitor death trends, collate data for research studies, and process pension claims, motor vehicle transfers, bonds, stocks, and life insurance benefits. In addition, death records come in handy when prioritizing health-related funding, medical and health-related research efforts, and public health interventions for genealogical research.

How are Death Records Created in Maryland?

A death record is created for every death that occurs in Maryland or a case where a corpse is found in the state. The process of death record creation is facilitated by the Maryland Electronic Death Registration System (MD-EDRS), although death records can also be created offline. Death records can be created offline by obtaining a blank death certificate from the health institution where the person died or at the Vital Records Office if the death occured at home. The MD-EDRS is a web-based application that Medical Certifiers and Funeral Directors use to report deaths electronically to the Maryland Department of Health. A death record must be created and filed at the Vital Records Office within 72 hours of the death.

The three steps involved in creating a Maryland death record include:

  1. Completing the deceased’s personal information
    The Funeral Director or the person taking up this role shall obtain a blank death certificate from the health institution where the person died or at the Vital Records Office in the county where the death occured. After which the death certificate is completed with all the required personal and statistical information of the deceased. The information is usually provided by an informant who may also be the next of kin or any other person trusted to provide accurate information. The informant then enters their signature, address, and date of signing. If the body is in the custody of the State Anatomy Board, the person who last had custody of the body before it was sent to the State Anatomy Board will be required to provide all the required information, excluding the medical certification.

  2. Completion of the cause of death and medical certification
    Medical certification must be completed within 24 hours after receipt of the death certificate by the attending physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner in charge of the patient’s care for the illness or condition which led to the death, unless inquiry is required by the medical examiner. The person completing the cause of death and medical certification is required to attest to the accuracy by signature or an approved electronic process.

    Suppose within 24 hours after taking custody of a body, the medical examiner cannot determine the cause of death. In that case, the medical examiner shall enter “investigation pending” in the cause of death section of the death certificate. Then immediately the medical examiner determines the cause of death, the medical examiner will send the Secretary a report of the cause of death for entry on the certificate.

  3. Filing at the Vital Record Office
    Upon completing all the required information on the death certificate, the Funeral Director will file the completed death certificate with the Vital Record Office in the county where the death took place for recording and certification.

How to Find Death Records Online in Maryland?

Maryland death records are not available to be accessed online. The Maryland Department of Health Division of Vital Records only provides access to death records via mail orders.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Find Death Records for Free in Maryland?

Death records maintained by the Maryland Department of Health Division of Vital Records are available upon the payment of the required fees. However, free death certificates may be obtained only in either of these cases:

  • A copy of the death record of a current or former armed forces member is being requested by a member; or
  • A copy of a death record of a current or former armed forces member or the member's surviving spouse or child, is being requested to be used in relation to a claim for a beneficiary or dependent of the member.

Note that in both cases, proof of service in the armed forces must be provided.

Where Can I Get Death Records in Maryland?

Interested persons can obtain Maryland death records through the Maryland Department of Health Division of Vital Records or local health departments. The Division of Vital Records provides access to certified and uncertified copies of death records for individuals who died in Maryland from 1969 to the present. Copies of records for deaths that occurred prior to 1969 are maintained and issued at the Maryland State Archives.

The Maryland Department of Health Division of Vital Records accepts requests through:

  • Mail Order
  • In-Person Order

Mail Order

Download and complete the Application for Certified Copy of Maryland Death Record with accurate information. Send the completed application together with a legible copy of valid government-issued ID, documentation of entitlement, a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and money order or check payable to the “Division of Vital Records” to:

Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 68760,
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036

In-Person Order

The Maryland Division of Vital Records’ lobby is currently closed to in-person requests to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit the Maryland Department of Health Division of Vital Records for regular updates on the availability of in-person requests. However, it is advisable to send mail requests or visit local health departments close to you for death records, pending the time that the lobby will be open to customers. The address is as follows:

The Maryland Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
6764B Reisterstown Road
Reisterstown Road Plaza
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 764-3038

Death Records Request From Maryland State Archives

Death records of deaths that occured in Baltimore City (1875 - 2010) and Maryland Counties (1898 - 2010) can be requested at Maryland State Archives online (by credit card only), by mail, or by phone orders.

Note that an order comprises searching for one record, one name, one location, one year, as stated on the form. The Archives will attempt to find the record with the information provided, but results are not guaranteed. If the searched record is not found, the fee will not be returned, and a notification letter from the Archives will be issued. Contact Maryland State Archives for more information on the availability of records by email at msa.helpdesk@maryland.gov or by phone at (410) 260-6487. No documentation is required to request a death record at Maryland State Archives.

For an online order, complete all required fields on the Online Death Certificate Order Form and click on the “add to cart” button to place an order. The $25 required fee for each record is payable by credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

For a mail-order, complete the Death Certificate Mail-in Order Form and click on the “Print Order Form.” Payment can be made by credit card (Visa or Mastercard), check, or money order. Mail completed form to:

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Mails must not be sent via FedEx or certified mail.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Maryland?

According to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 10.03.08, copies of death certificates may only be issued to applicants who have direct and tangible interests in the records. This includes surviving relatives, authorized representatives, beneficiaries, a person with a business need or court order, and the Funeral Director who handled the final disposition of the deceased’s body. Authorized persons must present necessary documentation and IDs, as listed below:

  • A surviving relative of the deceased must provide proof of relationship to the deceased with documentation such as:

    • Marriage Certificate
    • Birth Certificate
    • Obituary
  • Authorized representatives of surviving relatives of the deceased must provide documentation such as:

    • Letter of Administration signed by the Register of Wills or the Court Clerk

Or

  • Authorization of Release signed by a surviving relative, which must include:

    • Name of deceased​
    • A copy of the surviving relative’s valid ID
    • ​​Relationship of surviving relative to deceased
  • A person authorized by a court of law must provide a copy of the court order

  • A person making an insurance claim or other type of business need must provide documentation such as:

    • Letter from the insurance company
    • Vehicle Title
    • Deed

Note that it is mandatory that all requesters present required documentation and unexpired valid IDs showing the number and expiration date of ID.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Maryland?

In Maryland, a death certificate costs a non–refundable fee of $10 for the first copy and $12 for each extra copy of the same certificate purchased in the same transaction. For mail requests, send payment in the form of a check or money order. Cash will not be accepted for mail orders. For check payment, include a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID that shows your current address, or other acceptable ID which include:

  • Current car registration
  • Paystub
  • Bank statement
  • Lease/rental agreement
  • Utility bill with current address
  • Copy of income tax return/W-2 form​

How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Maryland?

The Maryland Division of Vital Records processes a death certificate mail request within 4 weeks of the request. The office is currently closed to walk-in customers in a bid to prevent exposures to COVID-19.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

In Maryland, there are no laws that indicate how long a death record should be kept for after death, but it is necessary to keep a death record for as long as possible because it is considered an official proof of death.

How to Expunge Your Death Records in Maryland?

Expunge is a legal term that refers to the authorized complete deletion of a record that is considered sensitive or permitted to be deleted after the person named on the record has qualified for an expungement. Maryland laws do not allow the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Your Death Records in Maryland?

Maryland laws do not allow the sealing of death records in the state.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in Maryland?

Maryland laws do not allow the unsealing of death records in the state.