First settled in the 1600s, Maryland has a very long history and the potential for very old records if you know where to look. Some counties and towns may even have records as far back as 1640 but generally the state as a whole doesn't have complete death records until around 1910, though there are some records from 1898.
Maryland law doesn't have as many privacy restrictions on death records as they do with birth certificates, and you can access records of any age if you are a relative of the deceased. Unlike some states, you do not necessarily need to be an immediate relative, which makes it much easier for family research. If you are not related to the deceased, then only 100-year old records (or older) are accessible to you.
The main source for Maryland death records is the state office of Vital Records but they only have records back to 1969 on hand for access, which is not quite so convenient. Older records are under the jurisdiction of the Maryland State Archives. You will have to put your request into the right place in order to get your records as neither office will search through records belonging to the other.
For earlier records at the Vital Records office, you can either send an application by mail or visit the office in person for faster (same day) results. The address for postal mail is the Division of Vital Records, PO Box 68760, Baltimore MD, 21215-0036 USA. For in-person counter service, you will want to go to 6550 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore MD 21215. In either case, you will need to have the application forms filled out and your fee ready.
Application forms are found at the Vital Statistics website (http://vsa.maryland.gov/apps/adcapp.pdf) and the current fee for a Maryland death record is $12 USD. You can pay in cash if you are at the office, but otherwise you will have to pay by check or money order made out to the Division of Vital Records. The fee is not refunded if your record cannot be found, but you will get a notice that it was not located.
Also with your mailed in forms, you will have to provide photocopies of your identification to prove that you are a relative of the deceased. The forms require you to identify the records are you looking for by the person's full name, their birth date, death date and if you know the place of death, add that as well.
When looking for pre-1969 Maryland death records at the State Archives, you will have to use their forms unless you are able to visit personally at 350 Rowe Blvd in Annapolis. You can get an archives form at their site (http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/refserv/forms/pdf/deathcertificate.pdf) and it requires the same information as the Vital Records office. The fee goes up to $25 USD though, and they can take checks as well as credit cards.
How to request Maryland death certificates by mail:
To make a request for Maryland death records by mail, you will need to start by filling out a Maryland Death Certificate application.
Proof of identity is required to accompany your application. This can be a copy of your current photo ID or two other approved documents that establish your identity.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your application and identification, along with a check or money order covering the $12 fee. Mail these to the Division of Vital Records.
For more assistance on accessing Maryland death records, you can contact Vital Records below:
Maryland Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036
Making A Request For Maryland Death Records
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene maintains all Maryland death records. The Department has on file all deaths that occurred after 1969, and previous deaths can be requested from the state archives.
There are several ways that you can place an order for Maryland death records. The easiest methods are to visit the Department in person to make a request and receive same day service, or to make a request by mail and receive the certificate in about 2 weeks. There is also the option to order Maryland death records online through an independent provider for an extra charge.
Persons Allowed Access
Maryland death records are available on restricted access. Since they are not part of the public record, they can only be accessed by the surviving relative of the deceased or their representative, the director of the funeral home, and those who can prove a legal need to access the record.