About Death Certificates


In 2021 Washington became a closed record state.


What does this mean?

In 2021, Washington joined 22 other states in restricting the kind of information that the state freely releases to the people.

Because of emerging dangers of sharing information on the Internet, concerns about publishing someone’s personally identifying information, and possible physical threats resulting from disclosure of such information, the Washington legislature has enacted legislation to protect citizens.

“While the state strongly encourages disclosure of public records, state law now allows for some information to be withheld. These “exemptions” are listed in the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56).


RCW 42.56

RCW 42.56.050   Invasion of privacy, when. A person’s “right to privacy,” “right of privacy,” “privacy,” or “personal privacy,” as these terms are used in this chapter, is invaded or violated only if disclosure of information about the person: (1) Would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (2) is not of legitimate concern to the public. The provisions of this chapter dealing with the right to privacy in certain public records do not create any right of privacy beyond those rights that are specified in this chapter as express exemptions from the public’s right to inspect, examine, or copy public records. [1987 c 403 § 2. Formerly RCW 42.17.255.]

RCW 42.56.140  Public records exemptions accountability committee. (1)(a) The public records exemptions accountability committee is created to review exemptions from public disclosure, with thirteen members as provided in this subsection.

Death Certificates are Exempt from Open Disclosure

As a result of the change in the law, only certain persons are permitted to order death certificates and must prove their relationship to the deceased.  The “Acceptable Proof of Eligibility Chart” can be downloaded HERE.

We are able to order death certificates for the families we serve for a period of one year after the date of death.  After that only eligible family members may order them.

Three ways to get the death certificates you need.


  1.  We can order them for you as soon as you have approved the Death Certificate Approval Form and have included them along with our other services. This is not the least expensive way to order Death Certificates.  During the COVID crisis regular U.S. Mail has not always been reliable.  We now use FedEx to receive the Death Certificates from the Department of Health and to send them to you if you choose not to pick them up in person.  Those charges will show on your Statement of Goods and Services.
  2. You may order through the Health Department’s approved third party vendor – VitalChek. The VitalChek website explains what documentation is requires. Payment may be made through their website. VitalChek is the only approved third party vendor so be sure you go only to their website: https://www.vitalchek.com/
  3. You may order them directly from the Health Department.  This is the lowest cost way to obtain death certificates.  Additional charges apply if payment is made by debit card or credit card.  Below you can download the form to order by mail from King County.  Other counties have instructions on their websites.


Death Certificate Order Form