Texas death records are legal documents showing a decedent’s identity and date of death. Death certificates are needed for a number of reasons after a person passes away. Having a copy of death certificate documents helps family members or legal representatives handle a decedent’s estate, assets and debts. Individuals must have a death certificate to complete many of the legal steps that occur after someone passes away. A death index is maintained by the Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). However, if applicants are wondering how to get a death certificate in Texas, then they are informed they cannot perform a death certificate search on the VSU website. Rather, to find a death record, applicants must submit an application to the VSU. Currently, TX death records are available from the year 1903 to the present day. In the sections below, find out everything you need to know to order death certificate documents or access public death records in Texas.
You must request death certificate documents after a decedent passes away, as you will not receive these documents automatically. If you are in charge of someone’s affairs after he or she passes away, then you may need a death certificate copy for the following reasons:
It is important to note that both death certificates and death verification letters are available from the Texas VSU. Only a death certificate will be accepted as an official document to satisfy any of the legal requirements listed above. A death verification letter, on the other hand, simply indicates basic information about a person’s passing, including the name of the deceased, the date and location of death and the file number.
For legal reasons, a Texas death certificate is required for anyone who passes away in the state. While death records are filed for everyone who passes away, only certain applicants are eligible to obtain a copy of a death certificate in Texas. Applicants cannot find death certificate information unless they are immediate family members or the director of the funeral home that handled the decedent’s services. In TX, applicants are considered an immediate family member only if they are the spouse, sibling, child, parent or grandparent of the deceased. Under certain circumstances, applicants may order a Texas death certificate for someone who is not an immediate family member if they obtain written permission from someone who is an immediate family member. The statement must be notarized and submitted to the VSU with the application.
Texas death records remain protected, or confidential, for 25 years after a death occurs. A death record becomes public information only after the 25-year period. Public death records can then be obtained by individuals who are not immediate family members.
An application for death certificate documents can be submitted to the Texas VSU if you meet the eligibility requirements detailed above. A death certificate application requires you to provide the following information:
If you request a TX death certificate for an immediate family member during the 25-year period that the decedent’s records are protected, then you must include information that verifies your identity. The application for a death certificate will require you to submit your name, address, Social Security Number, date of birth and driver’s license or state-issued ID card number. This additional information is requested to help protect the identity of the decedent, which is especially important during the first 25 years following his or her death.
When you have the above information on hand, you may apply for a Texas death certificate online using the VSU website or print your application and mail it to the address indicated on the form. You may also apply in person at the following address:
Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 W 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756
If you apply for a death certificate using the Texas VSU, then processing times can take 10 to 15 business days. Your requested death record will be sent in the mail, which will take additional time to arrive. You may also get a death certificate online for faster processing time.