What are Death Records in Minnesota?
Minnesota death records are official records of deaths that occurred within Minnesota. A typical Minnesota death record details the decedent’s data and relevant information about the death, such as the circumstances surrounding the death. A death record contains the following information:
- Full name of the decedent
- Place of death
- Date of death, including age
- Deceased’s biodata, including sex, color or race, etc.
- Usual residence before death
- Date of birth
- Parental details
- Marital status (including the number of children)
- Informant’s address
- Decedent's social security number
- Decedent's spouse
- Usual occupation, including kind of business or industry
- Cause of death
- Medical certification
- Attending physician and undertaker’s names and addresses
The government uses death records (as well as other Minnesota vital records) to source state and national mortality statistics, set public health goals, conduct health statistics, and measure health status at local, state, national, and international levels. Cause of death information on death records helps guide decisions on which medical conditions receive research and development funding. Government agencies also use death records to update government benefits paid, electoral registers, passport records, etc. In addition, death records come in handy when closing bank accounts, transferring real and personal property titles, processing pension claims, motor vehicle transfers, bonds, stocks, and life insurance benefits.
How are Death Records Created in Minnesota?
When a death occurs in Minnesota, a physician or mortician gathers information about the deceased and records it electronically with the Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C), the statewide vital records system. To use the MR&C, the medical certifier filing the death record must fill out and submit the Medical Certifier/Designated Staff User Agreement to obtain user credentials. A medical certifier may be an advanced practice registered nurse, physician (including medical examiner and coroner), or physician assistant.
The Minnesota Statutes 144.221 provides that a death record for a death that occurred in the state be filed with the state registrar within five days after death and before final disposition.
A medical certifier (or designated staff) is responsible for entering the cause and manner of the decedent's death into the MR&C. In contrast, the funeral home staff enters the legal facts of death. The legal facts include the date, time, and place the death occurred and information to identify the deceased. With the information recorded on the MR&C, current death data is available. The local county registrar creates the death record and transfers the original copy to the Office of Vital Statistics, Minnesota Department of Health.
There, the Vital Statistics staff reviews it to be sure that the information was appropriately provided and met the state’s standards. After this, the death certificate at the Minnesota Department of Health becomes the official, permanent record. It can then be issued to requesters and used as official evidence of death.
What is the Difference Between a Death Certificate and Other Death Records?
The difference between a death certificate and other death records is that a death certificate is a medical certificate. It is a document that is issued to a spouse or close relative once a person dies. It serves as proof of death and contains relevant information like the cause of death, time of death, and date of death. Certified death certificates cannot be obtained by just anyone because they are not public documents. A death record, on the other hand, is the government's record of a person's death. These records are public and can be accessed by anyone, provided they have accurate information on the deceased. The records can be used for public health statistics and other purposes by the government. To access a public death record, one can perform a death record search using the deceased's name or the location they were last spotted.
Are Death Certificates Public in Minnesota?
No, certified death certificates are not public in Minnesota. These are only available to authorized parties like family members. However, you can do a Minnesota death certificate search to obtain non-certified death certificates that cannot be used for legal procedures.
How to Find Death Records Online in Minnesota?
To perform an online death record search in Minnesota, use the Minnesota People Records Search. Click on the checkmarks at the top left corner of the portal to untick the already marked record types and leave only “Death Records”. This is because the search defaults to searching multiple record types. After providing all the required information, click the “search” button. There are two ways to conduct death record searches, and they are:
Death Record Search by Name in Minnesota
To conduct a death record search by name, the essential detail to provide is the full name of the deceased and the date of death. Having provided these details, the database will show you the death records you are looking for. Death records from 1904 - 1907 and 1955 - 2001 mainly include birthplace, birthdate, and mother’s maiden name. Note that any information missing from the original record will not appear in the index.
Death Record Search by Address
For a death record search in Minnesota using this method, you would be mandated to provide information concerning the last location where the deceased had stayed. This includes the city and county in which the deceased was last seen. If this information is provided correctly, you will be granted access to the dear records you seek.
In Minnesota, public records are available through traditional government sources and third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search more accessible as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered an excellent place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. 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 and counties
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites compared to government sources.
How to Find Death Records for Free in Minnesota?
Individuals can look up death records for free through the Minnesota People Records Search, although these records cannot be obtained for free. Also, persons requesting death records through the Minnesota Office of Vital Records and other Local Vital Record Offices must pay the required fees. However, the following persons may obtain VA death certificates for Veterans Affairs-related purposes free of charge:
- The veteran's surviving spouse or next of kin
- A representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs
- A service officer of a veterans organization chartered by the Congress of the United States
The above-listed authorized persons may obtain VA death certificates by completing Death Certificate Applications, including the “# VA certificates” box. VA death certificates are printed with a statement that limits them to VA use only.
Where Can I Get Death Records in Minnesota?
The Office of Vital Records of the Minnesota Department of Health maintains records of deaths that occurred in Minnesota from 1908 to the present. Death records before 1908 are available only from the County Vital Records Office in the county where the death occurred. Identify the county office closest to you and inquire about their counter services, operating hours, payment options, and mode of operation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. County offices may accept in-person services and respond to death certificate orders within one or more business hours.
Requesters can obtain copies of certified and uncertified death records through the Office of Vital Records of the Minnesota Department of Health by mail or fax. The Office of Vital Records does not have a service window; hence, in-person requests will not be accepted. To request a death certificate, fill out the Death Certificate Application or Non-Certified Death Record Application with accurate information and send the completed application, a copy of valid state-issued ID, and the required fee by regular mail to:
Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 64499
St. Paul, MN 55164-0499
The Courier/FedEx/UPS delivery address is as follows:
Minnesota Department of Health
Office of Vital Records
625 Robert Street N
St. Paul, MN 55155-2538
Applications, required fees, and copies of valid state-issued IDs may also be faxed to (651) 201-5740 for only applications with credit card information.
Requesters must sign their application forms before a notary public before the requests are sent. Note that the Office of Vital Records will not respond to applications that are not filled, not signed in front of a notary public, or not fully paid for at the time of application. It is also essential to select from the document types listed on the form. If a requester does not select a specific death document, they will only receive a death certificate that states the decedent’s name, the date and place of death, and the cause and manner of death.
The Office of Vital Records can be contacted for inquiries on the form at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 201-5970.
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Minnesota?
Anyone can obtain a non-certified copy of a death certificate in Minnesota, as no proof of relationship to the decedent is required. A non-certified copy is a plain paper copy of a death record that is strictly informational and cannot be used for legal purposes.
On the other hand, a Minnesota death certificate search for a certified copy of a death certificate can only be done by authorized persons with tangible and direct interests. These persons must state their relationship to the decedent by ticking the boxes on the application that describe their relationship to the decedent.
Some authorized persons with tangible and direct interests include immediate family members, parties responsible for filing the death records (including licensed morticians or funeral directors), the decedent’s representative, and others listed on the form.
How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, the following fees may apply when requesting a death certificate:
- First certified/uncertified copy of death certificate - $13
- Additional copies are requested at the same time as the first copy - $6 each
- Processing fees:
- Standard - No processing fee is required, as the request is processed at the regular time
- Faster - $20 (Does not include UPS® delivery). The request is processed ahead of standard requests
- Delivery fees:
- Regular First Class Mail® - No extra costs
- United Parcel Service (UPS®) - $16
For mail applications, requesters should make checks or money orders payable to the “Minnesota Department of Health”. According to Minnesota Statutes, Section 604.113, subdivision 2, checks returned for non-payment will result in a $30 charge to the requester and could lead to a civil penalty. The Office of Vital Records accepts payment by credit card (MasterCard, VISA, or Discover) for fax orders.
If requesting death certificates from any County Vital Records Office, confirm the fees and payment options available in that county, as this varies from county to county. Some counties may not accept payment by credit card. Also, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 144.226, fees are non-refundable.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Minnesota?
Due to COVID-19, it will take the Minnesota Office of Vital Records at least 30 days to process a death certificate order.
How Long to Keep Records After Death
In Minnesota, a death record should be kept indefinitely, as it is considered legal proof of death. A decedent's death record may be required for processing pension claims and life insurance benefits many years after the death. Widows or widowers may also require their spouses’ death records as evidence of death to the court before they are allowed to remarry. For these reasons, it is crucial to retain death records for as long as possible.
How to Expunge Your Death Records in Minnesota?
Expungement refers to the authorized deletion of a sensitive record or permitted to be deleted after the person named on the record has qualified for an expungement. There are no laws in Minnesota that permit the expungement of death records.
How to Seal Your Death Records in Minnesota?
There are no laws in Minnesota that permit the sealing of death records.
How to Unseal Your Death Records in Minnesota?
There are no laws in Minnesota that permit the unsealing of death records.
How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in Minnesota
A Minnesota obituary search can be done quickly through online databases, provided you have the necessary information. Crucial information needed to search for obituaries are the deceased's full name, date of death, and location of death. This search can be done on the Minnesota Historical Society database. However, if you are conducting a Minnesota obituary search for deaths from 1858 to 1908, you might have to check local historical societies or the local vital record issuance office in the specific county where the deceased last lived.