How to Get a Death Certificate in Illinois

Death Certifcate

The process of getting a death certificate varies – sometimes greatly – from state to state. While in some states death certificates are considered part of public record, in the state of Illinois, they are not. There are special criteria that must be met to get a death certificate in Illinois.

If the decedent had a funeral or made pre-need arrangements for a funeral, the funeral director typically handles getting the death certificates on behalf of the survivor. It is usually the case that up to five originals and a dozen copies of a death certificate are sufficient to fully settle the decedent’s estate. If more are needed later, they can be ordered at any time through the Illinois state government website (or in the state where the decedent died if not in Illinois).

Who Can Get a Copy of a Death Certificate?

In order to receive a copy of a death certificate, one must prove that they have a personal relationship or a property right interest with the decedent. The term property right refers to something physical that was previously owned by the decedent, such as a home or a vehicle, and that ownership transfers to another person upon death.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records provides two types of death certificates, each one designed to serve different purposes. A copy that is intended for legal purposes is called certified copy (sometimes called original) and this can be used to settle estates, execute a will, claim pension benefits, and life insurance policies. The second type of death certificate is an uncertified copy (sometimes called simply copy) and is sufficient for service providers, when required. The uncertified copy is also used for genealogical or research purposes and cannot be used in place of a certified copy for legal purposes.

How to Get a Death Certificate in Illinois

To request a copy of a death certificate, go to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records website and fill out an Application for Search of Death Record Files form. The form must be filled out completely before submitting it along with a valid, government-issued photo ID as well as the necessary payment.

Form submissions can be made by mail, which requires payment by check or money order. For submissions made by Fax, a major credit card is required for payment.

Alternatively, in-person requests can be made during weekday business hours at the Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Vital Records office in Springfield, Illinois. Payment is accepted in the form of exact cash, personal check, money order, or debit and credit cards. Note: During the pandemic, the physical offices are closed. Check the website and call to make sure they are open for business and can help in person. As of December 2021, the process from request to delivery takes between 6-8 weeks.

What if a Death Certificate Is Needed Urgently?

Urgent requests for purposes including travel plans within thirty days, immigration notices, and insurance reasons must be submitted through an overnight delivery service with proof of the immediate need as well as a prepaid overnight return envelope. These requests are processed in five to seven business days. Keep in mind social circumstances (like a pandemic) may affect this schedule. 

Summary

Getting a death certificate in Illinois is not difficult, but it may take time. If a funeral home is used for a decedent, it’s usually a given that the funeral home provides them to the survivors within days. If not, the process through the state website can take several weeks to several months, depending on many government internal factors (staffing) and external factors like a pandemic.

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Kubloss, Inc. (dba EstateGrid) has placed the information on this website as a service to the general public. It is not intended as legal, financial, or health advice or as a substitute for the particularized advice of a qualified professional. It is provided as is without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non‐infringement.