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How to Find a Death Record in Florida?

What Are Death Records in Florida?

A death record is a permanent formal document containing facts of a deceased’s death, the conditions surrounding the death, the date, and the location where the death occurred. These facts are recorded within the time specified by the state law. Below are some of the information included in a Florida death record:

  • Name of the deceased
  • City, county, and state of death
  • Date of birth and death, including age
  • Primary registration district number and registration district number
  • Personal and statistical information on the deceased, including color or race, sex, etc.
  • Usual residence before death
  • Usual occupation and kind of business or industry
  • File number
  • The local registrar
  • Parental and marital information
  • Informant’s information
  • Cause of death

In Florida, death records are vital records. They are used to transfer real and personal property title, settle pension claims and life insurance benefits, formally request probate or administration of a deceased’s estate, close bank accounts, track death trends, and present end result data for research studies. In addition, death records are also useful in setting priority for medical and health-related research efforts, health-related funding, and public health interventions for genealogical research. Government agencies also use official death records to update electoral registers, passport records, government benefits paid, etc.

How are Death Records Created in Florida?

A funeral director bears the responsibility of coordinating the death recording process in Florida, thus creating death records and passing them on to the local registrar. However, under Florida Statutes 382.008 (2)(a), the role of a funeral director may be taken up by anyone present at or after the death, the physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or the District Medical Examiner of the county where the death occurred or the body was found.

The process of creating a death record is facilitated by the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). Hence allowing funeral directors, medical examiners, and private practitioners to generate and file Florida death records into the Bureau of Vital Statistics database. With the electronic filing of the death record through the EDRS, a more precise review, survey, and health statistics distribution are guaranteed. However, the recording process can also be completed offline by completing the form prescribed by the district’s health department or local registrar where the death occurred. Note that registration offline or with the EDRS must be within 5 days after a death and before final disposition.

A death record in Florida is created in three steps:

  1. Completing the Certificate of Death with the Required Information
    This step is initiated with the EDRS, although the certificate may also be completed offline via the form prescribed by the health department or district local registrar where the death occurred. The funeral director or any other person performing this role is to obtain personal data of the deceased from a legally authorized informant and complete the certificate with the deceased’s personal and statistical information and every other necessary information.

  2. Medical Certification of Cause of Death
    The medical examiner, physician, or advanced practice registered nurse, is responsible for providing the funeral director with the medical certification either in person, via certified mail, or electronic transfer. For a fetal death, the physician, advanced practice registered nurse, midwife, or hospital administrator provides the death’s medical or health information to the funeral director. In both cases, medical certification must be completed and sent to the funeral director within 72 hours after expulsion or extraction.

    A funeral director may be granted an extension of the 72-hour limit if good and sufficient proof is presented showing any of the following conditions:

    • An autopsy is pending.
    • Laboratory, toxicology, or other diagnostic reports have not been finalized.
    • The identity of the deceased is unknown, and further investigation or identification is required.

    In addition, an extension may also be permitted if the medical examiner, physician, etc. is temporarily unavailable until after the 5-day registration deadline and the local registrar is aware of the absence. Note that the funeral director must present a written justification to the registrar if a further extension of the deadline is required.

    In the case of an extension, the funeral director must file a temporary certificate of death or fetal death containing all available information, including the fact that the cause of death is temporarily unresolved. The deceased’s principal or attending practitioner or the District Medical Examiner of the county where the death occurred or the body was found is to provide an estimated date for completing the permanent certificate.

  3. Filing with the Local Registrar
    This is the last step of creating a death record after all the necessary information has been recorded. The funeral director must ensure that the whole process is completed within 5 days and the death certificate is filed electronically, using the EDRS or with the local registrar.

How to Find Death Records Online in Florida?

Death records are not available to be accessed online as the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics does not provide an online database where interested persons may look up death records online. Death records may only be accessed via walk-in or mail-in services.

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 Florida?

According to Florida Statutes 382.025 (2)(a), a requester can only obtain a Florida death record upon the payment of a fee.

Where Can I Get Death Records in Florida?

Florida death records may be obtained at the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics. These records are kept in the department’s custody, which is responsible for maintaining and issuing them to persons interested in obtaining them.

It is required that an eligible applicant pays the prescribed fee ($15 and $4 per additional copy) and provides a valid photo identification (if the cause of death is requested). If a death record application is submitted in writing, the applicant must provide the following personal information:

  • Full name
  • Mailing address
  • Relationship to decedent
  • Phone number
  • Signature of applicant
  • Suppose the applicant is a Funeral Director or an Attorney. In that case, such person will be required to provide the name of the individual they represent and their relationship to the decedent, alongside their professional license number.

The following information about the person named on the death certificate is also required:

  • Full name on the death record
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Sex
  • Date of death (if unknown, indicate the range of years to be searched and provide an extra $2.00 fee per calendar year)
  • City or county of death

A requester can obtain a Florida death record through the following ways:

  • Mail-in Request
  • Walk-in Request - Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics Office
  • Mail-in or Walk-in Request - Local County Health Department Offices

Mail-in Request

Complete the DH727 Application for a Death Record (English PDF 55KB) or DH727S Application for a Death Record (Spanish PDF 71KB) with the required information. Note that a rush order is treated as urgent and is processed faster. However, this type of request requires an additional $10 fee. If interested in placing a rush order, the applicant should mark the outer part of the envelope “RUSH.” All applications should be mailed via Standard U.S. Postal delivery unless a special prepaid delivery envelope is provided.

A completed mail-in application or written application is sent alongside the necessary documents and fee to:

Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics,
P.O. Box 210,
Jacksonville, FL 32231-0042

Walk-in Request - Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics Office

Submit a written application or complete the DH727 Application for a Death Record (English PDF 55KB) or DH727S Application for a Death Record (Spanish PDF 71KB) alongside the necessary documents and fee to:

Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics,
1217 N Pearl Street,
Jacksonville, FL 32202

The office is accessible Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-in payments may be made in the form of cash, money order, check, Visa, and Mastercard.

Mail-in or Walk-in Request - Local County Health Department Offices

Death records for deaths from 2009 to the present can be obtained by Mail-in or Walk-in requests to a local county health department in Florida. Applicants can select locations close to them and get all the necessary information on application requirements and fees at the Florida County Health Departments’ website.

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

Yes, to an extent. Anyone 18 or above can apply to get a certified copy of a death certificate without the cause of death information. This type of record also does not have the full digits of the deceased’s social security number. The first five digits are redacted.

On the other hand, a death certificate less than 50 years old, with the cause of death information and full social security number is confidential and may only be issued to:

  • Deceased’s spouse or parent;
  • Deceased’s child, grandchild or sibling, if of legal age;
  • Any person who presents a will, insurance policy, or other documents that demonstrates his or her interest in the estate;
  • Any person who presents documentation that he or she is acting on behalf of any of the persons named above;
  • By Court Order.

Suppose the requester is not one of the persons named above. In that case, the application must be accompanied by a notarized Affidavit to Release Cause of Death Information (DH Form 1959) signed by one of the persons named above. It must be submitted alongside any supporting documentation and a copy of a valid photo ID of both the person authorizing the release and the applicant. The valid photo identification may be a Driver’s License, State Identification Card, Military Identification Card, or Passport.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Florida?

The cost of a death certificate at the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics is as follows:

  • $5 - Search fee for one calendar year and one certified copy
  • $4 - For each additional certified copy
  • $2 - Search fee for each calendar year when the precise year is unknown. The maximum fee $50.00
  • $10 - Rush fee (required for records before 2009 for same-day walk-in service, when available)

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

Usually, the processing time for death certificates from 2009 to date is 3 to 5 working days, excluding shipping time to and from the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics Office. Death records before 2009 require extra processing time. The processing time for records maintained at the county may vary.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

Florida statutes do not specify how long a death record should be kept after a person’s death, although the IRS statute of limitations for an audit of a tax return is generally within three years. This means that the IRS may perform random audits on a deceased’s tax returns for the immediate three years after death. The deceased’s death record is required during this process. Regardless, it is recommended to keep all financial records for at least seven years after the death before disposing them. A death record should be kept for as long as possible because it is regarded as a permanent official evidence of the death.

How to Expunge Your Death Records in Florida?

Expungement is defined as the complete removal of certain facts or records of a particular event, permitted by an official authorization. Expungement helps erase any information on a record that is considered sensitive or any information that the record subject desires to keep away from the public. There are no statutory provisions for the expungement of death records in Florida.

How to Seal Your Death Records in Florida?

In Florida, death records are automatically sealed and considered confidential for the first 50 years after the death. However, the records will become public after 50 years. There are no statutory provisions for sealing death records in Florida.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in Florida?

There are no statutory provisions for unsealing death records in Florida. Until after the first 50 years after the death date, the record will only be accessible to eligible applicants.