Thursday, March 08, 2007

PA Death Certificate Form Modified (Slightly)

Effective February 1, 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, through its Division of Vital Records, implemented revised versions of both the Certificate of Death (Form H105.143, Rev. 11/06) and the Coroner’s Certificate of Death (Form H105.144, Rev. 11/06).

Pennsylvania Medical Society announced use of the new forms in a posting on its website entitled State Changes Death Certificate:

The only revision is a space at the bottom where the Disposition Permit Number must be entered by the funeral director or local registrar. Outdated versions of the certificate will be rejected.

A supply of the new certificate has been sent to funeral directors, coroners and medical examiners, hospital administrators, and long-term-care facility administrators.

To order additional supplies of the Certificate of Death, please contact the Division of Vital Records by email at or by fax at (724) 656-3155. Provide the form name and number, requested quantity, and your complete mailing address and telephone number.

General information regarding death certificates in Pennsylvania is provided by the PA Department of Health on its website here. A table of contents listing detailed information regarding the availability & processing of "Vital Records" in Pennsylvania is found here.

A non-governmental website, VitalRec, independently displays information & links about Pennsylvania's vital records here.

Officially, since 1906, the Department of Health has been the repository of information regarding births & deaths in the Commonwealth. Prior to 1906, county offices collected birth & death information, which still can be accessed at county courthouses, as described here. Such older data is particularly useful for geneological searches.

Using the recent, collective data available at the state level, the Department can offer studies of population trends in the Commonwealth, as found here.

Complete explanations about death records are offered by the Department, as follows:

The Department has contracted with a nationwide, specialized, private contractor to facilitate a process whereby authorized persons can order death certificates online, with electronic payment of the standard charges. VitalCheck is the vendor.

These, then, are the four "official" ways to obtain a death certificate in Pennsylvania:

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, there is yet another way to obtain a vital record -- through the office of your State Representative or State Senator. Their staffs offer assistance as a constituent service, if you ask for help.

Searching the internet under the phrase "Pennsylvania death certificate" produces another type of "helpers" -- commercial third-party services that offer to obtain such vital records quickly. You still must submit the required search information. You will pay fees higher than those charged by the Department.

So now you know: You can obtain Pennsylvania vital records easily yourself, and avoid an unnecessary service charge.