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Death Certificates

There are 4 Ways to Apply for a Death Certificate

1. Walk-in

Average processing time is 30-45 minutes.

You will need to provide:

  • An application form
  • A $12 non-refundable standard searching fee
  • $3 for each additional copy needed
  • A valid government, school or employer issued photo ID.

Where to Go:

  • DHEC State Vital Records Office, Columbia – Issues death certificates and processes corrections for all years and counties.
    • Office Hours 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    • Telephone: (803) 898-3630
    • Address: 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC 29201
  • Regional offices – Issues death certificates for death certificates since 2005 and initiates corrections for those records.

2. Mail

Average processing time is 2-4 weeks

You will need to send:

  • A completed application form
  • A $12 non-refundable standard searching fee;  Add $3 for each additional copy.
  • A valid government, school or employer issued photo ID (or photocopy of one). When we receive applications without proper identification, we reject them automatically; we do not process them.

Mail to:

DHEC Vital Records
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC  29201

3. Phone

Average processing time is 5-7 business days.  Call 1-877-284-1008 (toll-free) to order a record.\

You will need to provide:

  • A $17 non-refundable standard searching fee
  • A $12.95 additional charge to pay for the services of  VitalChek, the private vendor that processes phone requests.
  • Shipping fees should you choose to have your record sent to you by UPS rather than regular U.S. mail

4. Online

Average processing time is 5-7 business days.  Visit VitalChek on the Web, 7 days a week, 24-hours-a-day.Only an immediate family member of deceased my order through Vital Check.

You will need to provide:

  • A $17 non-refundable standard searching fee
  • A $9.50 additional charge to pay for the services of  VitalChek.
  • Shipping fees should you choose to have your record sent to you by UPS rather than regular U.S. mail
  • Only an immediate family member of deceased my order through Vital Check.

Who can obtain a certified copy of a death certificate?

You are entitled to obtain a certified copy of a death certificate if you:

  • are an immediate member of the decedent's family
  • are a legal representative of one of these
  • demonstrate a direct and tangible interest – i.e., this information is needed to determine a personal or a property right.

Other applicants may be provided a statement that the death occurred, including the date and county of death, but not an actual certified copy of a death certificate.

Death certificates become public records after 50 years. Then any person may obtain an uncertified copy of the death certificate, upon submission of application form and fees.

What types of death certifications are issued?

The following death certificates are issued to those legally entitled to receive them:

  • Death - Long Certificate which contains all information, including cause of death
  • Death - Short Certificate contains all items except cause of death. However, it does contain manner of death
  • A Death Statement contains the decedent's name, county and date of death.

What information will I need to apply for a death certificate?

  • Full name of the person whose death certificate is being requested
  • Full date of death (month, day, year)
  • County where the person was pronounced dead
  • Signature of the person requesting the death certificate and their current mailing address
  • Relationship between the person named on the death certificate and the person requesting the certified copy
  • The full name and complete mailing address of the person to whom the certificate is to be mailed
  • Area code and daytime telephone number of the person requesting the death certificate.

How do I amend or change the information on a death certificate?

  • The procedures and requirements depend upon the specific information to be changed and whether any previous changes have been made. Specific instructions can only be provided after a review of the death record. The informant on the death certificate must initiate the request for a correction.
  • The informant may return a certificate issued in the last 12 months and notify us as to the specific change they would like to make. If the informant has not requested a death certificate in the past 12 months, this would be the first step they need to take. Again, the informant must indicate the correction they wish to make. Staff will review the certificate on file and advise as to the procedures.
  • This process may be initiated by mail or onsite at a regional DHEC Vital Records office or the state office in Columbia.

How can I check on the status of a death certificate request?

  • If you have not received any response to your request within 30 days of submission, you may call (803) 898-3630 or e-mail us (saleebap@dhec.sc.gov) for an update.

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