Getting a copy of a Texas death record is relatively easy because they become part of public record after only 25 years. That means there are no restrictions on getting copies of death records that are more than 25 years old. Newer records will only be issued to immediate family members or legal officers who have an interest in the document.
You will need to be the child, parent, sibling or spouse of the person on the record in order to make a request for a copy of the death certificate. If you are not a family member, you will need to get a notarized statement from someone who is, that gives you permission to retrieve the record.
Texas death records that date back to 1903 are available through the state Vital Records office. By submitting a form and paying the fee, you can order a certified copy of any death record provided the above mentioned restrictions are met.
Individual county registrar offices usually have access to any death records when the death occurred in their county, possibly dating back further than 1903 but you will have to check with the office to see what their archived holdings are.
The form to make a Texas death record request is on the Department of State Health Services website (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/reqproc/forms/vs142.31.pdf), which is also used for birth records. You just need to fill out the right fields. The required information includes the deceased's full name, the date and place of death, their birth date or approximate age, and their parent's names (if you know them).
The more information you can provide, the more accurate the search will be. The fees for a search are not refunded if nothing is found, so provide as much as you can.
A completed form will need to be accompanied by a photocopy of your own photo ID (the forms list the acceptable forms of ID for this, such as a driver's license). You will need to provide this identification whether you are ordering a restricted Texas death record or not.
It costs $22 USD for a retrieved record, and you can pay the fee either by check, money order or cash. Cash is only accepted if you are ordering your records in person at the office. Checks and money orders need be be made out to "DSHS".
If you are requesting from the state office, your request package needs to go to the Texas Vital Statistics Office, 1100 West 49th Street, Austin TX, 78756 USA. This is their physical address where you can go for drop-off at the counter. You may get your records within an hour or two, but you may also have to come back a day or two later.
For mailing, you should send your documents to Texas Vital Records, PO Box 12040, Austin TX, 78711-2040 USA instead. These requests will take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to be processed.
When looking for Texas death records beyond 1903, the Texas State Archive may have some helpful material in the form of old newspapers or cemetery records but they do not have any additional death certificates in their materials collection.
To order Texas death certificates by standard mail, follow these steps:
Download and complete a Texas Death Certificate form.
For records less than 25 years, you must include a copy of your government-issued photo ID. Make sure that the copy is completely legible.
Return the above information with a check or money order covering the appropriate fees. The cost for a record delivered by standard mail is $20 and takes 6-8 weeks to process. For faster service, you can pay an expedited fee and have the record sooner.
If you have other questions regarding accessing Texas death records, you can send them to the office below:
Texas Department of Health
Texas Vital Records
Department of State Health Services
P.O. Box 12040
Austin, TX 78711-2040
Obtaining Texas Death Certificates
The Texas Department of State Health Services is responsible for maintaining Texas death records. Records from the past 25 years are considered restricted, and deaths that occurred in the last 90 days may not yet have a record on file to request.
Ordering Methods Available
To order Texas death records, you can go online to the state website and place an order if you meet certain qualifications. You can also choose to order your Texas death records in person or by mail.
Records Considered Private For 25 Years
Texas death records for deaths that occurred in the last 25 years are considered private. Only immediate family members and their legal representatives are allowed to access these records. Texas death records older than 25 years can be accessed by anyone.