How to get a death certificate in Kentucky

How to Get a Death Certificate in Kentucky: Everything You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about accessing death records in Kentucky. All the information you need to submit your request, plus who can access a Kentucky death certificate, the cost, and how to get started.

What are Death Certificates (and Why is it Important to Get a Kentucky Death Certificate)?

Kentucky death certificates are legal documents, issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, that record the date, location, and cause of a person’s death that occurred within Kentucky.

In Kentucky, death certificates are completed by a physician, dentist, or chiropractor in charge, and the funeral director and/or coroner.

Kentucky law requires all deaths that occur within the state be registered via a death certificate within 5 days of the death.

Even though families and estate representatives typically require multiple copies of a loved one’s death certificate to manage their estate, you won’t automatically receive copies, and need to ask.

Most often, you can request death certificates from the funeral director. It’s prudent to request up to 10 copies when someone passes in order to close accounts and wrap up their estate.

If you need additional death certificates, or didn’t receive copies from the funeral director, you can request them via the vital records office.

Vital Records Offices in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Office of Vital Statistics is in charge of vital records in Kentucky.

Kentucky has been filing death certificates for those who passed away in Kentucky since 1852, although the General Assembly formalized the registration of births and deaths in 1910.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issues certified copies of Kentucky death certificates, as well as birth, marriage, and divorce certificates.

You can only get a vital record in Kentucky for an event that occurred in Kentucky.

In other words, you can only get a Kentucky death certificate for a person who died in Kentucky. If they were a Kentucky resident, but passed away out-of-state, you won’t be able to get a death certificate from Kentucky.

How to Get a Death Certificate in Kentucky?

Kentucky death certificates can be ordered by mail, in-person or on-site drop-box, or online using the approved third-party provider.

How to Get a Kentucky Death Certificate by Mail

To order a death certificate by mail in Kentucky, print and fill out the application form, and mail it (along with the fee or payment information) to:

Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St., 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621

The application form is available in English and in Spanish from Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The pro of ordering a Kentucky death certificate by mail is that it’s convenient, doesn’t require an in-person visit to the Office of Vital Statistics located in Frankfort, and is cheaper than ordering online. The cost is $6 for one certified copy. Payment for mail-in applications can be made by check or money order made payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer.

The con of ordering by mail is that it may take longer to receive the death certificates you’ve ordered, due to mailing time.

How to Get an Kentucky Death Certificate Over the Phone or Fax

To order a death certificate by phone and fax in Kentucky, you can use the state’s approved 3rd party provider.

  • VitalChek By Phone: (800) 241-8322
  • VitalChek By Fax: (866) 283-7477 toll-free

All major credit cards, including American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

How to Get a Kentucky Death Certificate In Person

To order a death certificate in person in Kentucky, you can go to the Office of Vital Statistics, which accepts walk-in applicants.

The office is open from 8:00am through 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (excluding official state holidays). The office is located at:

275 E. Main St., 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621

For in person visits, the Office of Vital Statistics located in Frankfort can usually issue a certified copy of the death certificate same day if your application is made before 3:45pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Before going in person, it’s helpful to fill out the application form, and ensure you have all the required documentation and ID.

You can also use the drop box at this location if you don’t want to wait, and aren’t in as much of a hurry.

How to Order a Kentucky Death Certificate Online

To order a Kentucky death certificate online, you need to order them through an independent company called VitalChek Network Inc.

VitalChek Network accepts major credit cards for payment, and offers the option to choose UPS for faster shipping, and for an additional fee.

While death certificates ordered directly through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services cost $6 for one certified copy, death certificates ordered online through VitalChek cost up to $18.50, plus the cost of shipping to deliver the certificate(s).

Information Required to Obtain a Death Certificate in Kentucky

To get a copy of an existing death certificate, you need to:

  • Provide enough relevant information about the deceased to ensure the state is able to locate relevant death records.
  • Indicate your relationship to the deceased.
  • Meet Kentucky ID requirements for applicants.

Information Required to Request a Death Certificate in Kentucky

To order death records in Kentucky, you need to provide information about the deceased to help the Office of Vital Statistics find the death record you need.

In Kentucky, the following information is required:

  • First, middle, and last name of the deceased
  • Date of death
  • Age at last birthday
  • Place of death
  • Attending physician’s name
  • Funeral service provider

The application form will also ask your personal and contact information, plus your relationship to the deceased.

Qualifications: Who Can Order a Death Certificate in Kentucky

In addition to providing information about the deceased, you’ll need to demonstrate you have a right to access the death certificate.

According to Kentucky law, death certificates are public record. While anyone can access death certificates in Kentucky, only certain people (typically family, or those who can prove a legitimate interest) can access Kentucky death records that include restricted information, such as SSN or cause of death.

When requesting a Kentucky death certificate, you’ll need to provide your name and relationship to the deceased individual.

You’ll also need to provide an address to which the death certificate should be mailed, and your contact information.

Finally, you need to sign the request.

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