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How to Find a Death Record in Ohio?

What Are Death Records in Ohio?

Death records in Ohio are vital documents showing the details of deaths recorded in the state. Generally, Ohio death records, also known as the death certificates, often reveal basic information regarding a deceased person. These include:

  • The full name
  • Time of death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Address
  • Birthplace
  • Spouse name

Relatives of the deceased can use death records to obtain insurance benefits or transfer the deceased’s properties. Widows or widowers may use death certificates to prove the demise of their spouses. Researchers also use death records to gather mortality statistics, which may be used to measure the quality of health in Ohio. In Ohio, the Bureau of Vital Statistics serves as the statewide agency for registering and requesting death records.

How are Death Records Created in Ohio?

The steps required to create death records in the state are outlined in Chapter 3705.16 of the Ohio Revised Code. The funeral director or any official in charge of the funeral arrangement is required to collect information from relatives of the deceased, physicians, or other eligible individuals. Afterward, the statement of facts gathered will be signed by the funeral director before presenting it for registration. Registration of death records created in Ohio is done at the Vital Statistics Department located in the county where the death occured. Afterward, the funeral director or any official handling the final burial will sign the document showing the burial details.

Death records that are signed by the funeral director are submitted to either the coroner/deputy coroner or medical examiner/deputy medical examiner in the county. In some cases, an autopsy may be performed on a deceased person whose death is suspicious. This may be done before the signed death record is certified by the medical examiner or coroner. Any licensed physician in Ohio may sign the death certificate of an individual who died by a natural cause. The medical report section of a death certificate in Ohio should be approved and signed within 48 hours of death. Medical reports showing the causes of death are created by physicians who may be present at the time of death. The registration of death records in Ohio began in 1867, but the statewide repository only provides records from January 1, 1964. As such, death records before that time may be difficult or impossible to find.

How to Find Death Records Online in Ohio

You can request for death records online through Ohio's Online Certificates Application created by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. However, you can not look up death records using the statewide online repository. Online death records are also available from county or city health departments. Some third-party sites provide access to online records. However, information gotten from third-party sites is not always reliable. To search death records online, you will be required to produce information such as the deceased's death date, gender, legal name, and city/county where the person died. The online database created by the Ohio Vital Statistics contains death certificates from 1964. Also, note that processing online requests may be slow and cannot be canceled after submission. To request death records online, use the Ohio’s Online Certificate Application, and fill the form on the webpage. After filling the form, select the number of copies required and send the request.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources and 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 compared to government sources.

How to Find Death Records for Free in Ohio

Generally, death records in Ohio are provided by the state’s Vital Statistics department or local health departments at the county level. These agencies charge requesters for copies of death records. However, free death records in Ohio may be accessible through some third-party websites. Note that the free records available are often archived documents from 1867 to 1908.

Where Can I Get Death Records in Ohio?

Identifying the date of the death is the first step to take to obtain a death record in Ohio. In Ohio, recent death records are available at the Probate Courts located in the counties where the recorded deaths occurred. Ohio Vital Statistics Department can also provide records created from January 1, 1964 to the present, to eligible requesters. Ohio death records registered between December 20, 1908 and December 31, 1963 are available at the Archives & Library Division of the Ohio Historical Society. The library is located at:

Archives & Library
Ohio History Connection
800 East, 17th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43211-2474
Phone: (614) 297-2510

After identifying the death date and the location, you can decide to get the record by sending a mail, sending an online request, or visiting the local health department center in person.

By Mail

The Bureau of Vital Statistics accepts mail requests that are sent to the address below. Requesters are required to download, complete, and submit the Application for Certified Copies.

Ohio Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098

Mail requests should be sent with the complete processing fees. The Ohio Vital Statistics department only accepts checks and money orders for mail requests. You can verify your request or check the status of the request by sending an email to the address above.

In-Person

The state’s Vital Statistics department currently does not accept in-person requests. This is in compliance to the COVID-19 social distancing guideline imposed by the Ohio state government. However, you may contact the health department in your county or city to determine if in-person requests are allowed. You can find your local health department via the search directory on the Ohio Health Department website.

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

The State of Ohio is an open record state. As such, vital records like death certificates are available to residents who submit proper requests to authorized agencies. A proper request should contain relevant information such as date of death, place of death, name of deceased, requester's name, and contact information. Keep in mind that although death records are accessible to all requesters, some information pertaining to the death may be restricted to the public. Information such as social security numbers are sensitive and not open.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Ohio?

An Ohio death certificate/record requested from the State’s Vital Statistics department costs $21.50. The cost covers a certified copy of the document. Each additional copy is billed at the same price. Note that the price is the same regardless of the method used in requesting the death certificate. Requesting a copy from the local health department may cost more. For instance, Cleveland City Department of Health, located in Cleveland City, Ohio, provides access to death certificates for $25 per copy.

The Vital Statistics department accepts only credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express cards) for online requests. Requesters sending mail-in requests are expected to pay via checks or money orders. Note that checks or money orders should be written to the "Treasurer, State of Ohio." Cash payments are accepted for in-person requests, and fees are non-refundable.

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

Generally, it is advisable to wait for 12 weeks after the death date before requesting death certificates. However, you can make requests at the city/county health department if you want to get the record immediately after the death. Online requests are expected to be processed within five working days, while the scheduled arrival time is 14 days. Keep in mind that requests can not be canceled, but payment will be refunded if the requested record is not available. The delivery of all mail-in orders usually takes 4 - 6 weeks, while in-person requests may be processed on the same day.

Most records are created within 48 hours from the time of death. However, this depends on the nature of death. Suspicious deaths often require autopsies carried out by the medical examiner in the county. Death certificates of individuals who died due to medical conditions or diseases are faster to create and get. It is generally important to wait for some days or weeks to get a death certificate in Ohio.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

Records like death/birth certificates, marriage certificates, tax returns documents, bank account statements, etc. are useful when determining and distributing deceased persons’ estates. Therefore, it is advisable to keep these records indefinitely. Medical records and death certificates are often stored electronically by approved public agencies. As such, you can request for them whenever it is necessary. Generally, it is best to keep these records for a minimum of ten years.

In Ohio, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) preserves residents' medical records, even those pertaining to the deceased. However, appointed agents or lawful executors of the assets of the dead may view and obtain the medical records of the deceased.

How to Expunge Death Records in Ohio?

Expungement refers to the complete erasure of a record. The term is commonly used for convicted persons who are interested in destroying their conviction records. In Ohio, there are no provisions for the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Death Records in Ohio?

Sealing a record in Ohio means restricting the record from the public. However, in Ohio, there is no law related to sealing a death record. Generally, the medical reports and other sensitive information in the death record are considered confidential. However, law enforcement agencies and other authorized bodies may obtain subpoenas from the courts requesting access to the death records.

How to Unseal Death Records in Ohio?

In Ohio, some records (i.e., adoption and juvenile records) are sealed by agencies or individuals to avoid social stigma. These records can be unsealed by the record holder or a record holder’s representative to make them accessible to the public. However, there is no provision for unsealing a death record in Ohio.