Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about your death certificate order or availability? You might find the answer to your question below!

Availability

    A: We have the following death certificates in our collection:
    • Ohio Death Certificates from December 20, 1908-1963
    • Stillborn Death Certificates from December 20, 1908-1935 and 1942-1953
    • Columbus Death Certificates from 1904-1908

    A: Between 1867 and December 19, 1908, death records were recorded at the county level as line entries in ledgers, not as certificates. The Ohio History Connection has copies of the death records for some counties on microfilm. Please see our Death Records Research Guide to determine if we have records for the county you need.

    If we have it, you can then submit a Public Records Copy Request for $12 by mail. If we do not hold records for the county in question, you will need to contact the probate court or county archives/records center for that county to obtain a copy.

    The exception is death certificates for Columbus. The City of Columbus started producing death certificates in 1904. These are included in our Public Records Online Index and can be ordered the same as State of Ohio death certificates.

    A: No. We only have death certificates for people who died in Ohio.

    If the person you are looking for was an Ohio solider who was killed-in-action, those are federal records and are under the perview of the National Archives.

    A: Many of the names in the database were imported using a computerized process of the poor-quality original indexes. Volunteers have been manually inputting the missing information and correcting computer-generated errors. A typical year has 80,000 death certificates, so it is a slow process.

    If you would like to help with this project, you can volunteer to come to the Archives & Library to input data. For more information, please contact our Volunteer Office.

Ordering

    A: In order to keep our fees as low as possible, we automatically send the copies in the format closest to what we received them in from the Ohio Department of Health Division of Vital Statistics.
    • December 23, 1908–1953 (recieved paper/microfilm): paper by post mail
    • 1954–1963 (received as digital copies): email.

    A: We are not able to offer the additional service of scanning and emailing orders for death certificate copies from before 1954.

    A: Typically you should receive your order within two weeks, but it may take longer due to high order volumes, holidays, and the United States Postal Service’s workload. Please contact death@ohiohistory.org if you have not received your certificate four weeks after you placed the order.

    A: We are happy to cancel your order if we have not already processed it. Orders are often processed within 24 hours of receipt, orders do need to be cancelled quickly if desired.

    A: Due to our large number of requests and staff availability, we are unable to provide that service.

    A: Death certificates are public records, and we do receive some tax money to enable us to make them available to the public. The money provided by the state covers the costs to properly store and maintain the certificates. Anyone is welcome to come to our Archives & Library to make their own copies of them for 25 cents per page or photograph them for free. However, what we receive in tax funding does not cover the staff time, paper, toner, and postage, and other costs involved in processing online and mail orders. We only charge as much for this service as necessary to cover the actual costs involved.

    A: Since we did not create the original documents, we cannot certify them for legal purposes. If you need a certified copy, please contact the public health department or probate court in the county of death.

    A: No, only the Ohio Secretary of State can apostille records. Vist Ohio Secretary of State for information. You will need a certified copied for this process.

    A: Please confirm document requests with the society. Many organizations, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, only require a stamp saying that it came from our collections. We are happy to stamp the certificates on request (non-legal purposes only). Please ask for that that when placing your order.

      A: Yes, as long as we have not already processed your order. Please send an e-mail to death@ohiohistory.org to let us know of any changes. It is not unusual for us to have orders processed within 24 hours of receipt, so please let us know as soon as possible.

      A: Our fees are based on the staff time involved in processing the orders; we can only look up a single spelling of the last name for the basic $7 copy fee.

    A: Death certificates are issued under the legal last name of a woman at the time of death. For most married, widowed, or divorced women during the time span that we hold records for, it is often her married name.

    A: In order to process a request for a basic $7 death certificate copy request, we need to know the name and death year, plus one of the following: county of death, exact death date (month and year), or death certificate number.

    If you do not have that information, you can submit a death research request. The fee is $25 per hour with a one hour minimum. One hour is usually sufficient. For that, we will look through all of the death indexes for a 10 year period. There is no guarantee that we will be able to locate a death certificate for them, but at worst, we try to provide you with other leads that you can follow up on.

I Got My Order, But…

    A: No. The fee covers the staff time involved in processing the order for you and the expenses involved in making a copy and mailing it out.

    A: No. The fee covers the staff time involved in processing the order for you and the expenses involved in making a copy and mailing it out.

    A: There are rare occasions when a death certificate accidentally got left out when the Ohio Death Index was originally compiled. We suggest that you contact the probate court or public health department of the county of death to get a copy of the death certificate from them.

    If you would prefer, we can also manually search through every single death certificate for the county and month of death. The fee for that service is $25 per hour. There is always a possibility that the State of Ohio never received their copy of the death certificate from the county to begin with, so your chances of finding it are better through the county.

    A: Sometimes a mistake or omission was made on the original form. The Ohio Department of Vital Statistics would either stamp them as “Returned” or paste a smaller form onto the front asking for clarification and send back to the county for correction. The county would either make the corrections on the original form or send back a corrected copy. We send all of the copies of a certificate or forms that were included in this process.

    Other times, part of the certificate was filled out in light ink and the rest in dark ink. When that happens, we are often unable to get a clear copy of the whole certificate using a single darkness setting. In that case, we make two copies on different darkness settings so that between the two, the entire certificate is readable.

    A: Except in extremely rare situations, the back of the certificate only contains printed information on how to fill out the form. We do send a copy of the back if we see a note on the front indicating that there is more information. When there is additional information on the back, it is typically details about how or where an accidental death occurred, not genealogical information.

    A: We cannot make changes directly to the original certificate or the microfilmed and digital copies. However, if you personally knew the deceased, you can submit a notarized affidavit with the correction. That will be kept on file in the State Archives office. Contact reference@ohiohistory.org for more information.

    You can download a copy of the affidavit here [.docx format].