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How to Find a Death Record in Michigan?

What Are Death Records in Michigan?

A Michigan death record is a government-issued document that provides details about the date, time, location, and cause of a person’s death. These records also contain certain personal information about the deceased. A typical Michigan death record contains:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • The deceased’s gender
  • The birthdate of the deceased
  • The date of death
  • The place of death
  • The deceased’s address
  • The deceased’s social security number

Death records serve as legal evidence of a person’s demise and may be used as evidence in court proceedings, for other legal purposes, or in circumstances where there is a need to provide proof of death. A certified death record usually proves most useful when there is a need to notify social security, claim insurance proceeds, obtain death benefits, arrange a funeral, access pension benefits, or settle an estate.

Exemplified and apostille copies of death records, also known as authenticated death records, are also routinely needed by the relatives of the deceased for foreign use. This could be in cases where there is a need to establish residency, obtain work visas, or process adoption papers.

How are Death Records Created in Michigan?

Death records are created the moment the funeral director files a death certificate for a death that occurred within the state. According to Section 333.2843 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, the funeral director who takes custody of the dead body has the responsibility of reporting the death and filing the certificate with the state's Vital Records Office or with the local registrar of the district where the death occurred.

In order to file the certificate, the funeral director obtains the necessary personal data from the next of kin of the deceased. From the medical examiner, doctor, or coroner, the funeral director obtains the medical certification of the cause of death alongside the signature of the medical personnel providing this information. The filing must be carried out not less than 72 hours after the death.

If all the required information needed to complete the filing is not readily available, the funeral director can file the death certificate with the available information. However, a supplemental report containing the missing information must be provided by the funeral director, no later than 60 days following the date of death.

Although the medical certification section of the death certificate must be signed by the attending physician or any other authorized personnel, the funeral director has the responsibility of obtaining the certification from the appropriate official.

Death certificates that may have been filed after 72 hours of the event, but within one year are filed using the standard form. A late filing must, however, be followed by a note explaining the reason for the lateness.

Michigan’s Vital Records Office operates an Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). This system allows for death records from physicians, medical examiners, and funeral homes to be submitted electronically.

How to Find Death Records Online in Michigan

Michigan does not have a central online portal that can be logged onto to look up death records. Interested persons can, however, request for and order certified copies of Michigan death records online.

The Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS), under the supervision of the Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics (DVRHS) also provides online access to death information from over 460,000 Michigan death records that were archived from 1867-1897.

Death records are 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 Michigan

Generally, there are no such things as free death records in Michigan. However, some records give information about decedents without requiring payment. They include Michigan church records, cemetery records, newspapers, probate records, etc.

The Michigan Genealogical Death Indexing System (GENDIS) also provides free online access to a limited number of Michigan death records. On the county level, some counties like Oakland, through the Genealogy Research Service page, may provide a free search for death records, so far the applicant does not order the death certificate.

Anyone seeking to obtain a certified copy or an extract of a Michigan death record can do so by placing an order to the County Clerk's Office of the county where the event occurred or through the Michigan Vital Records State Department of Health.

Where Can I Find Death Records in Michigan?

Michigan’s Vital Records Office serves as a repository for all death records filed from 1867 till date. Any member of the public can obtain a death record from the Michigan Vital Records Office in three ways:

  • In-person request
  • Online request
  • Mail request

In-person request

Prior to the pandemic, those applying in person can do so by visiting the state's Vital Records Office at:

South Grand Building
1st Floor
333 S Grand Avenue (Corner of Grand & Kalamazoo)
Lansing, MI 48933

Office hours are from Monday to Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., except for recognized state holidays. To qualify for same-day service, orders must be placed on or before 3:00 p.m.. An additional “rush” fee of $12 is also required alongside a mandatory 2-hour waiting period for the processing of the order.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, requesters are restricted from applying in person until the State of Michigan Vital Records lobby reopens.

Online request

Death records can also be ordered online using the external ordering web service provided by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. While the Vital Records Office does not provide a government-owned platform for interested persons to order death records, they do provide requesters with a third-party site that offers such service. The order is to be routed through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) website and payment is made using a debit or credit card.

A person interested in obtaining a Michigan death record online will have to provide the name of the party on the record, the date and location of the event, and their own name. Note that death records are not available for order until at least 90 days after the event has occurred. It takes only about 10 minutes to place and complete the order.

Mail request

When ordering a death certificate by mail, the person making the request must first download and complete the Application for a Certified Copy - Michigan Death Record form from the website of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The application form is a 5-part form that prescribes the required detail for processing death record requests in Michigan.

For regular mail-in requests, parties are to send the completed application forms, applicable fees, and valid IDs to the address below:

Vital Records Requests
P.O. Box 30721
Lansing, MI 48909

Those requesting expedited service are to send the completed application forms and appropriate fees to:

Vital Records RUSH
P.O. Box 30721
Lansing, MI 48909

Applicants can also obtain certified copies of Michigan death records by requesting the records in writing from the County Clerk's office where the death occurred. However, this is the case with all counties in the state except Detroit County.

The Detroit County Vital Records Office became non-functional from December 13th, 2013; hence all vital records for the city were transferred to Wayne County. Applicants seeking to obtain copies of Detroit’s County death records may do so by sending requests to the Wayne County Clerk’s Office or the state's Vital Records Office.

The ordering options are the same in most counties, as interested persons would be required to choose between in-person, mail, and online orders.

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

Michigan death records are considered public records; hence can be accessed by any interested member of the public. This is in line with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which permits all members of the public access to vital records, except otherwise restricted by a court order or certain legal provisions.

Any member of the public can request certified copies of Michigan vital records as long as the record is not restricted, if the application is made in writing, and all necessary fees are paid.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Michigan?

The fee for searching for a death certificate by mail in Michigan is $34. This includes one certified copy of the searched death record. Each additional copy ordered afterward costs $16 each. However, expedited service costs an extra $12 asides from whatever fee the applicant may have paid for the search. Online orders cost $46, with each additional copy costing $16.

Acceptable forms of payments include money orders, checks, and credit cards. Money order and personal checks are to be made payable to the “State of Michigan.” Search fees once paid are non-refundable. Payment for additional copies may, however, be refunded if the search reveals that the record requested was not filed with the state.

Note that fees vary when requests are made at county offices. For instance, Oakland County charges $15 for the first copy of a death record and an additional $5 for each extra copy. On the other hand, Wayne County charges a $24 fee for the first certified copy and an extra $7 for each additional copy. Applicants can find out about specific county fees by contacting the customer service representative of Michigan’s Vital Records Office on this number: (517) 335-8656.

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

The processing time for mail requests depends on the search option chosen by the applicant. A regular search takes about 4 - 5 weeks, depending on the overall volume of requests to be processed. However, an expedited request takes 2 - 3 weeks. This time frame does not include delays that may occur with payment processing or mailing time.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

As a rule of thumb, no relevant paperwork or document of the deceased should be discarded until at least three years after the death. The deceased’s vital records should, however, be held indefinitely. This includes the deceased’s death certificate, birth certificate, divorce decree, and marriage certificate. Medical records and related documents could be held for about ten years, while financial records for three years.

How to Expunge Your Death Records in Michigan

An expungement is a court-ordered process that allows certain criminal conviction records or an arrest to be erased off a person’s record. Hence, death records cannot be expunged in Michigan as only criminal records can be expunged.

How to Seal Your Death Records in Michigan

In the same vein, death records cannot be sealed in the State of Michigan. Adoption records are the only records that the law designates to become sealed upon filing with the state's Vital Records Office. This is usually carried out on the order of the court where the adoption was concluded.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in Michigan

There are no provisions for sealing or unsealing death records in the State of Michigan. Adoption records, which are the only vital records that are sealed in Michigan, can be unsealed by contacting the specific county court where the adoption was concluded.