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Death Certificate Guide

A death certificate is an official document that proves that someone has passed away. This is important for families who need to close accounts and access benefits. Death certificates are also used by the government to track health and demographic trends across the country. This is different to the Cause of Death certificate that is given by a doctor at the time of death.

How do I register a death?

Funeral directors are typically responsible for registering the death although it is possible for the next-of-kin or relatives to complete a death registration form. Registration must be done within 7 days of the burial or cremation. Details of a death must be lodged at State based registrys in order for a death certificate to be produced.

How do I get a death certificate?

Once a death has been registered, death certificates can be ordered from the relevant state based Registries of Births Deaths & Marriages, in NSW you may:

  • Apply Online
  • Download a death certificate application
  • Apply in person

In NSW, only people closely related to the person who passed away can order certified copies - click here for a full list.

How long does it take to get a death certificate?

Four parties are involved in processing the first death certificate, so the amount of time it takes to arrive can vary. However, it is normal for it to take 2-3 weeks to process an order, and the state could take 3-4 weeks.

The steps that need to be completed to print a death certificate are:

  1. The next of kin provides information about the person who has passed away
  2. The primary care physician completes a cause of death certificate
  3. The Funeral Director registers the death with the relevant registry
  4. The death certificates are printed by the state based registry

In general, delays are caused by primary care physicians providing the causes of death and the registry processing the order.

The time it takes to receive the certificate once submited to the Registry varies and may take several weeks. To see a full list of processing times by the registry click here.

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