How to Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Virginia

By Dan Taylor
Death certificates are usually required in order for the deceased to have a burial.

cemetery 2 image by Anton Chernenko from Fotolia.com

A death certificate is a document that the government issues declaring the date, location and cause of a person's death. Death certificates are important documents that are used for estate settlement and life insurance claims. Obtaining a copy of a death certificate in Virginia is a fairly easy process provided you are related to or married to the deceased. There are three different ways to obtain one: by mail, in person or online through VitalChek.

By Mail

Write a $12 check (the fee as of 2010) to the Office of Vital Records. Photocopy your photo identification, such as a driver's license, military identification or passport.

Write a letter requesting the death certificate. Include your name, the name of the deceased, the date of death, the place of death, your relationship to the deceased, your reason for the certificate, a daytime telephone number and a return address. Sign the letter.

Place the letter, photocopied identification and check in a stamped envelope addressed to Office of Vital Records, P.O. Box 1000, Richmond VA 23218-1000. Mail the envelope.

Wait one to four weeks from the date the office receives your request for the death certificate to arrive.

In Person

Go to the Office of Vital Records' headquarters at 1601 Willow Lawn Drive, Suite 275, Richmond, Virginia, between 8 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday.

Ask the front desk for a death certificate application and fill it out.

Pay the required fee with cash, check or money order only.

Show the processing clerk photo identification such as a driver's license, military identification or passport and take the document with you when you leave.

Through VitalChek

Go to VitalChek's website if you do not want to go to Richmond or wait up to four weeks for a death certificate to arrive through the mail. Click on "Death Certificate" on the left hand side. Click "Continue."

Select "VA" on the map of the United States. Click "Continue." Select the city where the death occurred and click "Continue."

Answer the subsequent questions about the death and your personal information.

Select your shipping method, fill out the payment information and then place the order.

About the Author

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, Dan Taylor has been a professional journalist since 2004. He has been published in the "Baltimore Sun" and "The Washington Times." He started as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia and now writes for "Inside the Navy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government with a journalism track from Patrick Henry College.

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