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How to Find a Death Record in New Jersey?

What Are Death Records in New Jersey?

A New Jersey death record is defined as a vital record that serves as evidence for a death that occured within the state. A death record also referred to as a death certificate, details events surrounding death such as how, when, and where it occurred. Examples of information contained in a New Jersey death record include:

  • Deceased’s full name
  • Birthplace
  • Place of death
  • Last place of residence
  • Date of birth and death, including age
  • State file number
  • Social security number
  • Parental and marital information
  • Deceased’s biodata, including sex, color or race, etc.
  • Informant’s details and signature
  • Funeral director’s details and signature

Death records can be used when prioritizing medical and health-related research efforts, public health interventions for genealogical research, health-related funding, processing motor vehicle transfers, pension claims, bonds, stocks, and life insurance benefits. New Jersey death records are vital documents required to close bank accounts, transfer real and personal property titles, track death trends, and provide end result data for research studies. Government agencies also use death records to update electoral registers, passport records, government benefits paid, etc.

How are Death Records Created in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a death record is created based on the information gathered and documented by a licensed funeral director after a death that occurred within the state. A licensed funeral director coordinates the death registration process. It must be completed and filed within the time range prescribed by the local registrar where the death certificate is obtained. A death certificate may be filed electronically with the “New Jersey Electronic Death Registration System,” “NJ-EDRS,” or non-electronically at the local registrar’s office. The NJ-EDRS was designed and maintained by the State registrar and can be used to complete a certification of death or fetal death record that is authorized.

The creation of a death record in New Jersey involves three steps:

  • Completion of the deceased’s personal and statistical information.
  • Determining and filing the cause of the death.
  • Registering the information generated with the local registrar
  1. Completion of the deceased’s personal and statistical information
    Here, the licensed funeral director in charge of the death case obtains necessary information on the deceased’s, including the deceased’s personal and statistical data required to complete the certificate of death. The funeral director gets the information needed from a qualified informant who gives accurate information on the deceased.

  2. Determining and filing the cause of the death
    Medical certification is required to determine the cause of the deceased’s death. This process is usually completed by the physician responsible for the patient's care before the death or a licensed medical examiner in the state. The information on the cause of the death is then filed with the NJ-EDRS electronically or non electronically with the local register

  3. Registering the information generated with the local registrar
    When the funeral director, attending, resident, or covering physician, medical examiner completes their part of the death certificate, it is filed with the local registrar for certification. After which, it can be issued to eligible applicants.

How to Find Death Records Online in New Jersey?

The Office of Vital Statistics and Registry of the New Jersey Department of Health does not maintain an online registry where individuals can look up death records. These records can only be accessed when they are ordered online. However, the New Jersey State Archives provides access to a searchable database where individuals can look up death records. The database indexes death certificates filed with the New Jersey Department of Health between June 1878 and December 1900. Note that only the deceased’s basic information can be looked up for free. An individual will be required to pay $10 to access the full record. The accessible information includes the deceased’s name, age, sex, race, location, death date, and citation. Interested persons may search the database by combining first and/or last name, gender, county, race, and/or years.

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 New Jersey?

Death records at the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry of the New Jersey Department of Health are accessible only upon the payment of a nominal fee. However, authorized persons can request one free copy of a veteran’s death certificate via mail only, but any additional copy of the veteran’s death certificate requested will be subject to the normal statutory fee.

Individuals can view abridged versions of death records on the New Jersey State Archives’ searchable database. The database contains records of deaths that occured between June 1878 and December 1900. Although a $10 fee will be required to access a full record, the abridged versions contain necessary information about the deceased, including the deceased’s name, age, sex, race, location, death date, and citation.

Where Can I Get Death Records in New Jersey?

A requester can obtain a copy of a New Jersey death record at the state’s Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry. The Office of Vital Statistics preserves and provides access to death records dated from 1919 to the present. Persons interested in older records can query the New Jersey State Archives, as records of deaths that occured between June 1878 and December 1900 can be obtained there.

The Office of Vital Statistics and Registry provides access to certified copies, certifications, and records with an Apostille Seal. When obtaining a death record, the information required includes the full name on the record, the city or county where the death occurred, and the year the death occurred. A requester may write and mail an application with the required fee, necessary documentation, requester’s proof of relationship to the person listed on the death record being requested (only if requesting a certified copy),, and a valid ID to:

Office of Vital Statistics & Registry
NJ Department of Health
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

Note that if a relationship to the deceased can not be verified, a certified copy will not be sent. Instead, the requester will be sent a non-certified document containing the person’s name, death date, parent’s’ name, and place of death only. Social security numbers and cause of death will be withheld. Note that an uncertified copy cannot be used for legal purposes.

The Office of Vital Statistics and Registry encourages requesters to use the Online Request portal to request death records as it is considered faster than mailing a written application. A requester can verify which documents need to be uploaded by using the Document Selector. To complete an online request, a requester will need:

  • Credit card or debit card
  • Valid driver’s license or 2 forms of alternate ID
  • Proof of relationship, change of name and/or address, if applicable

Online orders will be shipped via the requester’s selected method. Online orders are not available for pick up at the walk-in office. When a requester places an order, the status of the order can be checked on the Status of Online Order portal with the requester’s confirmation number.

For questions and inquiries regarding ordering online, call (609) 528-9316.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in New Jersey?

Anyone can get an uncertified copy of a New Jersey death certificate. However, a certified copy will only be accessible by the deceased’s immediate family, including father, mother, wife, husband, child, brother, or sister. Certified copies have the raised seal of the office issuing the record and are usually issued on State of New Jersey safety paper. Certified copies may be used for official purposes as they are legal documents. They can also be used to establish identity, unlike uncertified copies that are basically informational and are not considered legal documents. Uncertified copies do not contain the deceased’s Social Security Number or the Cause of Death medical terminology.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in New Jersey?

The costs associated with a death certificate include:

  • First copy of death certificate - $25.00
  • Each additional copy of same record - $2.00 for each one
  • Identity Verification Fee - $5.00
  • For genealogical applications only, additional years can be searched at a fee of $1 for each additional year.
  • Additional names or counties can be searched at an additional fee of $25 each.

For online requests the following additional costs are incurred:

  • Standard Processing Fee - $5.00
  • Online authentication fee - $5 (non-refundable)
  • Shipping fee via UPS carrier - $12.

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

Currently, it takes between 8-12 weeks to process a request. Delivery time varies depending on the shipping options, which could be USPS First Class or UPS Next Day Air. Selecting the Next Day Air mailing option does not reduce the processing time. The orders will only be shipped after the standard processing time.

Note that the COVID-19 pandemic is also taking a toll on the processing and delivery of the records. For instance, international shipping is presently suspended which makes international orders take longer than the normal 20-day shipping spans.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

It is required that a death record is kept as a permanent legal document serving official purposes, such as evidence to prove the date of death. The IRS statute of limitations for a tax return audit is three years. Consequently, the IRS is authorized to randomly audit the deceased's tax returns for the first three years after the death. The deceased's death record will be required to carry out the audit. It is advisable to retain in possession all financial records for at least seven years after the death before discarding them.

How to Expunge Your Death Records in New Jersey?

Expungement refers to a court-ordered process involving the removal of a record under a court’s authority. Typically expungement helps delete off traces of an event that occurred in the past. It is advantageous to the record’s subject as it helps keep away any record that the record’s subject wishes to keep confidential. New Jersey does not statutorily provide for the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Your Death Records in New Jersey?

New Jersey does not statutorily provide for the sealing of death records.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in New Jersey?

New Jersey does not statutorily provide for the unsealing of death records.