What Are Death Records in Missouri?
In Missouri, a death record is legal evidence of a person's death. It typically consists of the personal data and medical certification of the deceased. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Bureau of Vital Records maintains all of Missouri's Vital Records, including birth, death, marriage, and divorce records in the State of Missouri. Based on the DHSS' vital statistics report on residents' birth, death, marriage, and divorce records, about 73,883 people died in the state in 2020, and records of these deaths can be found by conducting a death record search in Missouri at the State Vital Records Office or at the local health departments in the county where the person died. Death information per judicial district is also maintained by the National Center for Vital Statistics. In Missouri, death records are classified as vital records. In Missouri, a death certificate may be required for the following purposes:
- To determine the cause of death
- To settle estates of the deceased and obtain insurance or other pension benefits
- To compile mortality rates and track disease trends
- To settle public health policies and allocate health and research funding
- To gather public health statistics
How are Death Records Created in Missouri?
In Missouri, a death record is created when a person dies or when a dead body is found in the state. The funeral director or any person in charge of the final disposition of a dead body must prepare the death certificate and file it with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Any death records filed with the department are also registered in the United States death registry.
Before preparing a death certificate, the funeral director must obtain the following information:
- The personal data of the deceased from the next of kin or close family members such as name, age, marital status at the time of death, etc.
- The medical certification, indicating the cause of death from the physician, coroner, or any person responsible for determining the cause of death
- Other relevant information required to be placed on a death certificate, for example, the name and license number of the embalmer
This information will be used to create the death certificate. Note that the medical certification must be completed, signed by the physician, and returned to the funeral director or person in charge of the final disposition of the body within 72 hours after death. If the physician or physician assistant is not available to sign the medical certificate, the chief medical officer in charge of the institution where the deceased died may sign it.
The law mandates the physician, physician’s assistant, or any other person who was in charge of the patient's care to provide the funeral director with the name of the deceased, the date and time of death, and the name of the attending physician.
After the death certificate has been completed, the funeral director must file it with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services within 5 days of death. Afterward, a record seeker can conduct a death record search in Missouri after the certificate has been filed with the state.
What is the Difference Between a Death Certificate and Other Death Records?
A death certificate is the official copy of the information about a person's death. Missouri Death certificates differ from other death records because they are more comprehensive. A typical death certificate reveals the decedent's social security number, full name, sex, age, and birth records. To conduct a death record search in Missouri, a record seeker must be able to provide the following information:
- Decedent's full name and sex
- Date and place of death
- Birth records, including the full name of birth parents, date of birth
Are Death Certificates Public in Missouri?
Yes, uncertified Missouri death certificates are public records. Certified copies of death certificates are only open to specific individuals or entities like the decedent’s spouse, children, birth parents, in-laws, relatives, legal representatives, and other authorized agents who need the record for public health statistics and research. For instance, authorized agents can obtain reports from the Missouri vital statistics on the 6,351 people who died in February 2022 and use it to conduct health research.
Interested members of the public may also obtain Missouri death certificates from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (HSS). The HSS is the state agency that maintains information regarding vital events like birth, death, marriage, and divorce in the state. This allows record seekers to conduct a Missouri death certificate search by mail or in-person at the HSS. Requestors seeking to order online may also conduct a Missouri death certificate search using the tools available on the Missouri State Archives and Missouri Digital Heritage website. Alternatively, record seekers can get United States death records from the United State death registry,
How to Find Death Records Online in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services does not provide online access to death records. Missouri death records can only be accessed by mail or in-person requests. Alternatively, requesters may find death records at the local health department where the deceased died. However, online access to death records is available at the Missouri State Archives, where a record seeker can obtain death information from before and after 1910. Alternatively, death records from 1910 to 1971 are available online at the Missouri Digital Heritage Death Certificate database. A record seeker can conduct a death record search by first, middle, and last name, county, year, and month. The search results will reveal the digitized images of the original death certificate of the record holder.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, public Records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and kind organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple Records. To gain access to these Records, interested parties must typically provide:
- The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
- The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.
Death Record Search by Name in Missouri
The Missouri State Archives has an online tool where a record seeker can conduct a death record search by name. Interested persons can request a death record whether or not they choose to create an account on the website. To conduct a death record by search by name via the Missouri State Archives, the record seeker must provide the decedent’s full name, the county where the death occurred, and the date of death. Alternatively, a death record search by name is also available in the Missouri Digital Heritage Death Certificate database. The decedent’s first, middle, and last name, county, year, and month must be known to conduct this search.
Death Record Search by Address
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Vital Records does not provide a Missouri death certificate search by address. However, individuals seeking death records of a person who has lived in a particular address can visit the local health department to make inquiries.
How to Find Death Records for Free in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services does not offer free services for finding or obtaining death records. Therefore, requesters must pay the required fees to have access to certified and informational copies of death records in the state.
Where Can I Get Death Records in Missouri?
Requesters can obtain records of deaths that occurred from 1910 to the present in Missouri at the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records Office, while the local health department in the county where the deceased died maintains and issues death records from 1980. Copies of Death records in Missouri can be obtained by mail-in or in-person request.
To request a death certificate from the local health department of a county, interested persons may submit applications in person or by mail to the address of the health department in the county where the deceased died. For example, to obtain a death certificate in person at Jackson County, a requester must complete the Jackson County Health Department Application for a Vital Record form online, submit it, and pick up the certificate in person after one hour. Note that a requester must provide a valid photo identification in order to pick up the death certificate. To request by mail, complete, sign, and send the Application For Vital Record form along with a money order to:
Jackson County Health Department
313 S. Liberty
Independence, MO 64050
To submit a request in person at the Bureau of Vital Records, a requester must first place a call to the State Vital Records Office to book an in-person appointment. Appointment services are offered from 10:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m. It is not guaranteed that requests will be processed on the same day as requests, which means that some requests may be accepted, processed, and mailed back to the requester, or asked to be picked up at a later date.
For a mail-in request, accurately complete and sign the Application for Missouri Vital Record form. The completed application form must also be notarized by a notary public before it can be submitted. Send the completed form together with a money order and a valid government-issued ID to:
Bureau of Vital Records Office
Jefferson City Vital Record Lobby
930 Wildwood Drive
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Can Anyone Get a Copy of Death Certificate in Missouri?
In Missouri, death records are not available to the general public. An individual must have a direct and tangible interest in the death record of interest. According to the Code of State Regulations 10-10.090, only the following individuals can get copies of death certificates in Missouri:
- Immediate family members, including, the decedent’s spouse and siblings
- A genealogist representing a family member
- Official representatives including attorneys, doctors, funeral directors, or other representatives, acting on behalf of the family members of the deceased. An authorized agent must provide a signed and notarized statement from the family member authorizing the release of the record
- Anyone claiming the possession of personal or property rights
Note that anyone claiming to have a legal and tangible interest in a death record must provide evidence of relationship to the deceased or any documents of authorization or claim.
In addition to this, the requester must provide a valid ID that displays their full name and photograph. This also applies to local health departments in each county in the state. The acceptable forms of ID include the following:
- A state-issued driver’s license that includes a photograph, date of birth
- A state-issued identification card that includes a photograph, date of birth
- A current U.S. military identification card that includes a photograph
- A U.S. passport with a current photograph
- A current school identification card/document showing the applicant’s name, photograph, and date of school year
- A work identification card that includes the applicant’s name, photograph, and company name
Any alternative forms of identification must at the least show the requester’s full name, date of birth, date of issuance, and institution or company name. Examples of alternative forms of identification include social security card, a letter from a government agency, court-certified documents, certified deeds, or title to property.
How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Missouri?
The search fee for a death record at the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records is $14 per record and it includes one certified copy of the requested record. The search fee covers a 5-year search period. Each additional copy of a death record ordered at the same time is $11. A fetal death certificate is $15 for each copy. Note that search fees are non-refundable, even if the record is not found.
The fees for ordering Missouri death certificates from local health departments vary. For example, in the Dade County Health Department, the cost of a certified copy of a death certificate is $15 and each additional copy ordered at the same time is $13.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Missouri?
In Missouri, the processing time for a death certificate is determined by how the request was made. The Bureau of Vital Records accepts death records requests by mail, in person, or online. The standard processing time for a mail-in request is 2 to 4 weeks, while in-person requests can be processed on the same day.
Local health departments in each county have different processing times. However, most counties can provide same-day services for in-person requests. For example, in Clay County, same-day services are available to requesters from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. On the other hand, requests by mail take 7 to 10 business days, from the date the request is received.
How Long to Keep Record After Death
There are no statutory provisions indicating how long death records should be kept in Missouri. However, it is necessary to keep a death record indefinitely because it is a legal proof of a person’s death, which may be required at any time.
How to Expunge Your Death Records in Missouri
Expungement involves a judge declaring a record deleted from public access. There are no statutory provisions on the expungement of death records in Missouri.
How to Seal Your Death Records in Missouri
There are no statutory provisions on the sealing or unsealing of death records in Missouri.
How to Use the Missouri Death Registry
In Missouri, funeral directors and medical certifiers must register deaths that occur in the state on the Missouri Electronic Vital Records (MoEVR) system. Eligible individuals must fill out the MoEVR User Access Request form and email it to MoEVRsupport@health.mo.gov to be able to access the system. Here is how to use the MoEVR:
Log in to the system
The funeral director is expected to fill the following tabs:
Tab 1: Decedent
Tab 2: Decedent Information
Tab 3: Informant/Place
Tab 4: Disposition/Funeral Home
Tab 5: Embalmer/Funeral Director
Tab 6: Decedent History
After saving the record, the funeral director will send it to the medical certifier
The medical certifier must log in to the MoEVR to attend to the record.
Click on Process to get to Tab 1
Start the medical certification by clicking on Tab 7
The medical certifier must fill out the information in the following tabs:
Tab 7: Time/Autopsy
Tab 8: Cause of Death
Tab 9: Details/Manner/Injury
Tab 10: Certifier
Tab 11: Case Actions
The Missouri Analyst Warning page will appear when the medical certifier clicks “Finish” on Tab 10.
Click on “Save (as Pending)” to save the record, then a Successful Transaction page will appear.
Click on “Return to Record” to certify the cause and manner of death. This leads to Tab 1
Click on Tab 11 and check the boxes in the “Medical Certification Information” section on the upper right of the screen. Click “Finish” to save the action.
When the medical certifier clicks Finish, the Missouri Analyst Warning page will appear again. Click on “Save (as Pending),” which leads to the Successful Transaction page. This shows that the death has been certified.
Once the death certificate has been certified, the record will be sent to the State Vital Records Office for registration. The record will be available on the Missouri death index for access and can be used for public health statistics. The death certificate will reveal information like:
- Decedent’s full name, gender, race
- Decedent’s spouse
- Birth records, including date of birth and names of birth parents
- Date and place of death
- Cause of death
- Decedent’s social security number
Additionally, the records will be part of the United States death records that can be accessed from the United States death registry. Note that death registration does not include Missouri death notices. It is the family members of the deceased that are responsible for that.
How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in Missouri
An individual can find an obituary for a specific person in Missouri at the State Archives office by conducting a free obituary search. A record seeker can conduct a Missouri obituary search online or email the Missouri State Archives office at email@example.com. Alternatively, a Missouri obituary search can be done at the State Historical Society of Missouri.
How to Conduct a Free Obituary Search in Missouri
Record seekers can conduct a free obituary lookup in person at the Missouri State Archives or the State Historical Society of Missouri office. Contact the Missouri State Archives office at firstname.lastname@example.org and the State Historical Society of Missouri office at (800) 747-6366 or email@example.com for more information on how to conduct a Missouri obituary search.
What are Missouri Death Notices?
Missouri death notices are small, brief, printed statements informing the general public about the death of people in the state. Individuals can find death notices online at the State Historical Society of Missouri website.
What is the Difference Between Death Notices and Obituaries?
Death notices are short announcements of people’s death that contain the date and time of death and the location of the funeral. While obituaries are +tribute or memorial articles to individuals who die. Most obituaries contain the deceased’s death and biological details, achievements, hobbies, careers, and names of surviving spouses and children. Obituaries of celebrities are usually written by newspaper staff, while the deceased’s family writes that of the general public. A free obituary search can be done in person at the Missouri State Archives or the State Historical Society of Missouri office.