Vital records in Rhode Island date back to the 1600s, though not all towns or counties will have registrations going quite that far back. State-wide Rhode Island death records began in 1853 but it took until 1915 for all counties to comply regularly. So the state office can provide records from then until the present, but you will have to do your research at the town offices if you need any pre-1915 material.
You get get a complete list of the county clerk offices at the state website (http://www.health.ri.gov/records/about/clerkoffices/index.php). For older records, you'll have to contact the office for the area where the death occurred and not all offices will have the same degree of complete records past 1853. If you have an office near you, you can also visit to get any state-wide death records that happened after 1965 (provided you are eligible to do so).
All Rhode Island death records become public domain after 50 years, so you should be able to access any such records without restriction. More recent records can only be requested if you are in the immediate family, or are a legal official. Allowed relations include parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.
If you eligible to make the request, all you need to do is fill out a one-page form and send it either to the local vital records office (as mentioned above) or directly to the main state office.
The forms can be found online (http://www.health.ri.gov/forms/recordrequest/Death.pdf), for easy printing and filling out. The form requires standard information necessary to identify the Rhode Island death record you are looking for: the person's full name, when and where they died, name of spouse (if there is one) and their parents full names as well.
You also need to fill in sections with contact information for yourself, and indicate your relationship to the deceased and why you are seeking the document. Include a photocopy of your own identification as well, even if you are requesting records that are over 50 years old. It needs to be a government issued ID with a photograph.
Along with the paperwork, you have to include the current fee for a Rhode Island death record, which is $20 USD. Fees can be either check or money order, made out to the General Treasurer of RI. If you need additional certified copies, they are only $15 each as long as you order them at the same time. If they are unable to find the record you want, fees are not normally refunded (so fill out the forms with care).
Mail everything to the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, 3 Capitol Hill, Room 101, Providence RI, 02908-5097 USA. You can expect 6 to 8 weeks before getting your records returned to you. If you need your documents faster, add an extra $7 to your payment and write "Rush" on the envelope. They will then process within 5 business days.
Take these steps to request Rhode Island death certificates via mail:
To request a Rhode Island death certificate by mail, you will need to complete a Rhode Island Death Certificate application.
You must attach a copy of your government-issued photo ID with your request.
You will also need to include a check or money order in the amount of $20 to cover the fees associated with your request.
If you need additional help accessing Rhode Island death records, then you can contact the office listed below:
Rhode Island Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
3 Capitol Hill, Rm. 101
Providence, RI 02908-5097
Obtaining Copies of Rhode Island Death Records
To obtain copies of Rhode Island death records, you will need to contact the Rhode Island State Department of Health. All death records less than 50 years of age must be requested directly from the State Department of Health.
How You Can Order Rhode Island Death REcords
There are two ways that you can order Rhode Island death records: in person and by mail. Records that are older than 50 years can be accessed through the State Archives or by contacting the city hall in the city where the death occurred.
Limited Access To Newer Records
Rhode Island death records do not become public information until 50 years after the event. Prior to that date, you must be a direct relative, a legal representative, or have another legal need to access the record.