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How to Find a Death Record in North Dakota?

What Are Death Records in North Dakota?

A North Dakota death record provides information about a death that occurred within the state's jurisdiction. According to the North Dakota Century Code Section 23.0.1-19, the state funeral director, responsible for filing the facts of death information, collects the same from the decedent’s next of kin, or the best-qualified individual, or any other credible source available. The state funeral director files the facts of death information with the state registrar not later than three days after taking custody of the dead body. Complete registration and issuance of death records copies are completed by the North Dakota State Department of Health.

A North Dakota death certificate contains the following information;

  • Deceased’s full name
  • Age at the time of death
  • Cause of death
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date of burial and location
  • Exact time of death
  • Marital status at the time of death
  • Maiden name (if the deceased was a married woman)
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Names of parents
  • Occupation
  • Home address
  • Religious Affiliation (if any)
  • Signature of attending physician

According to a published report by the National Committee on Vital Health and Statistics (NCVHS), individuals, private institutions, and the Federal, State, and Local governments use death certificates for key purposes.

  • Individuals or Family
  • Families of the decedent and other legally qualified individuals use death certificates to authenticate the facts of death for administrative and legal uses.
  • Private Institutions
  • Private Financial Institutions use death certificates to verify the legitimate owner of financial assets such as loans, deposits, and investments.
  • Death certificates are used to verify facts of deaths to pay benefits.
  • Assets and Property Management Institutions use records of death to determine rightful property owners and register the same in land records.
  • Death records assist insurance companies in identifying insured decedents to provide due benefits to rightful beneficiaries in compliance with applicable laws of the state.
  • Death certificates are used to identify subjects of health studies who have died.
  • Death records are also used for Genealogical research purposes.
  • Federal Government
  • Federal government agencies use death records for federal administrative purposes.
  • Death records assist in determining facts of death for payment of death benefit, terminate workers’ compensation, retirement payments, disability payments, unemployment benefits, pensions, or similar benefit arrangements.
  • The federal government uses death records to stop, redirect, or change the structure of Social Security payments or similar benefits.
  • The federal government also uses death records to verify the identity of decedents to prevent tax fraud.
  • Records of death help the federal government to identify deceased subjects of health studies.
  • State and Local Governments
  • State and local government agencies use death records to efficiently carry-out state and local administrative duties.
  • State and local governments use death certificates to determine payment of death benefits.

The state and local governments are able to terminate disability payments, unemployment payments, workers’ compensation, retirement payments, and other similar payment arrangements.

How are Death Records Created in North Dakota?

The process of creating a death record usually begins from the documentation of the event with the State Registrar to certification and completion by the State Department of Health. A funeral director will need to obtain the facts about the event from either a next of kin or any other qualified and reliable source available.

Under the law, the funeral director must file facts of the death within three days after assuming custody of the dead body. The funeral director would also obtain the medical certification of death from the physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner that coordinated the patient’s care process for the condition that led to the demise of the record's subject. Any of these professionals are to complete the medical certification within ten days after death.

In a case where an individual died in the absence of medical attendance, the county coroner in the county where the death occurred will investigate the cause of death and review the deceased's medical history. The county coroner may also obtain information from the last known physician to have attended to the deceased person.

After gathering accurate information, the county coroner will send the record to the State Registrar for filing. After this, the State Department of Health certifies the record and makes copies available to eligible parties.

How to Find Death Records Online in North Dakota

In North Dakota, interested parties can look up death records by conducting a record search on the State’s Public Death Index. To carry out a search, a user must provide the last name and date of death of the subject of the search. If the record is not found in the index, the user will have the option of purchasing the certified copy of the death record via the online order portal.

To obtain death certificates via the online order portal, the record seeker will need to create an account using a valid email and provide a password. After successful registration, the individual will need to complete an order form to request copies of a death certificate and provide payment information.

As a measure of preventing fraud, the index does not list deaths within the last 12 months.

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 North Dakota

People can find death records for free by utilizing the search tool on the Public Death Index of the North Dakota State Department of Health. Record seekers are only required to provide the last name and death date of the deceased. Other information like the subject’s first name and the location of death is optional. However, the index does not include records of events that occurred within the last twelve months.

Where Can I Get Death Records in North Dakota?

To obtain a death record in North Dakota, the record seeker will need to query the North Dakota State Department of Health, Vital Records Division. There are three ways to apply for a death record;

By mail: The requesting party should submit a completed Death Request Application Form, a check or money order payable to the North Dakota Department of Health, and a valid form of identification to:

Division of Vital Records
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Department 301
Bismarck, ND 58505

In-person: A record seeker can visit the Vital Records Office from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. The requester must bring along a valid means of identification and the required fee. The Vital Records Office is at:

Room 118
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0200

Online: To obtain death certificates via the online order portal, the record seeker will need to create an account using a valid email and provide a password. After successful registration, the individual shall complete an order form to request copies of a death certificate and provide payment information.

Death records are also available by contacting the Clerk at the county where the event occurred. The funeral home where the deceased was laid to rest may also provide informational copies of a death certificate.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in North Dakota?

According to North Dakota Century Code 23-02.1-27 (2), certified copies of death records are available only to:

  • Relatives
  • Authorized representative
  • The child fatality review board
  • The funeral director reporting the facts of death
  • Anyone with a court order of competent jurisdiction

Certified copies of death records will include information about the cause of death and the deceased's social security number. On the other hand, the general public can obtain certified informational copies of death records. An informational copy does not contain confidential information such as the cause of death or social security number.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in North Dakota?

Death certificates requested by mail or in-person cost $15 for the first copy and $10 for each additional copy. The requester can pay for copies by check or money order if requesting by mail. Cash payment is acceptable if requesting in person. Online orders may attract extra credit or debit card charges.

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

Death records requested in person are available on the same day. On the other hand, mail-in requests may take three to five business days.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

There is no set time for keeping death records. Funeral homes usually have death records as long as they are in business. The North Dakota State Department of Health has death records from 1893 to the present.

How to Expunge Death Records in North Dakota

Expungement involves legally erasing a record from file, such that it looks like the surrounding events never happened. North Dakota does not allow the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Death Records in North Dakota

Generally, North Dakota death records maintained by the State Department of Health are not sealed, although state laws may restrict some information on the record from public view.

How to Unseal Death Records in North Dakota

When a death record is found to be sealed, a person can contact the court that ordered the sealing to unseal it. The interested party may need to provide substantial reasons for wanting to unseal a death record or provide a signed statement from any of the eligible parties that are legally allowed to access the record.