The state of Pennsylvania has a long history of European settlement, with records dating back to the mid 1600s. There is a lot of history in this state.
There are some privacy restrictions on Pennsylvania death records, but they are not that strict. As long as you are a family member, you are permitted to make a records request. That includes immediate as well as extended family, providing you can provide proof of that relationship.
The Division of Vital Records has material that goes back to 1906, and you can get certified copies of any record as long as you meet the above criteria. You need to complete the proper request form, and submit it with payment.
Currently, it costs $9 USD to get a Pennsylvania death record which can be paid either by check or money order. Your payment needs to be made out to "Vital Records".
The Pennsylvania Department of Health website (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/death_certificates/14122) will let you download the proper forms to make your request. Read through the page to make sure nothing has changed with regard to the fee or the regulations surrounding Pennsylvania death records.
There are fields for the full name of the deceased, their date of death and where they died. If you know their Social Security number, that can be very helpful in locating the right record. You also have to include your own name and address, and a photocopy of your ID. You can use 1 piece if it's a government-issued ID with a photograph such as a driver's license, but will need 2 pieces if you don't have a photo ID. The form will list qualifying pieces of identification.
Once you have your application completed and documentation put together, you can either drop the package off at a Vital Records office or mail it to the main office in New Castle.
Dropped-off requests are often served same-day but you will be waiting around 3 months to get a response back from a mailed-in request for a Pennsylvania death record. Luckily, there are 6 different offices in the state where you can get direct service at the counter. There are Vital Records offices in Erie, New Castle, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburg and Scranton. They all offer counter service during regular business hours through the week.
When mailing, the address is the Division of Vital Records, attn: Death Unit, 101 South Mercer Street, PO Box 1528, New Castle PA, 16103 USA.
The state Vital Statistics department has Pennsylvania death records from 1906 until the present, but there are often older records out there if you know where to look. Individual county offices may have their own archives, where you can sometime find Pennsylvania death records from as far back as 1852 or even occasionally earlier. You can also do further research at the Pennsylvania State Archives (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_archives/2887) where they have a large collection of historical material available to the public in Harrisburg.
These are the steps you should take to mail a request for Pennsylvania death certificates:
To start your mailed request for a Pennsylvania death certificate, you will need to download and complete a Pennsylvania Death Certificate form.
Include a legible copy of your government-issued, photo ID. The ID must verify your identity and current address.
Return the above paperwork, as well as a check or money order covering the $9 fee, to the address below. Armed Services members may be able to waive these fees.
If you have additional questions regarding accessing Pennsylvania death records, you can contact:
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103
Placing An Order For Pennsylvania Death Records
If you need a copy of Pennsylvania death records for your personal records or legal needs, then you will need to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Records are available from the present day to as far back as 1906.
Ways To Place Your Order
Pennsylvania death records are available for order through several different mediums. You can place a request online for fastest service, make a request by mail, or visit one of the six public offices and make a request in person.
Death Records Not Part Of Right-To-Know-Law
Pennsylvania death records are not part of the Right-to-Know-Law, and therefore cannot be accessed by the general public. In order to make a request for Pennsylvania death records, you must be an immediate family member or extended family member able to prove relationship, a legal representative, or otherwise able to prove a legal need for the record.