Chances are you’re going to work directly with a funeral home after a loved one passes away. One distinct advantage is that the funeral home should be able to help you order death certificates and then have the death certificates sent to you. Even though the process should be handled for you, it’s good to know how it works and the role that state agencies play.
A death certificate is an important vital record that must be obtained in a certain amount of time to document a death. Death certificates are also needed to settle estates and manage social media accounts among other things. How death certificates are generated and managed depends on the state where you live.
In Texas, vital records like death certificates are overseen by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The department plays a major role in every aspect of death certificates, which is why Texas families should become familiar with the DSHS after a loved one passes away.
The Texas DSHS Vital Statistics Section
The Texas DSHS is a large department with a lot to manage. Vital records are just one thing that the DSHS is tasked with handling. The Texas Department of State Health Services handles death certificate applications as well as registering physicians that sign death certificates to make them official.
Much of the work after the original death certificate is generated is done through the Vital Statistics Section (VSS), a division of the DSHS. Its primary function is to maintain vital records in the state. But they aren’t just a directory of information. The Texas Vital Statistics Section provides a few important services that may be needed in the future.
Services Provided by the DSHS Vital Statistics Section
If you need anything beyond the original certified death certificate, you’ll likely interact with the Texas DSHS Vital Statistics Section. The VSS has been maintaining death records in the state since 1903, and they can provide information on all of them.
Ordering Extra Certified Copies of Death Certificates
Not sure how many death certificates to get? We recommend getting at least five, but if you need additional death certificates the Vital Statistics Section can help. You can obtain a copy of a certified death certificate online, by mail or in-person at a VSS office. The easiest option is ordering online at https://ovra.txapps.texas.gov/ovra/order-death-certificate.
Don’t worry, the VSS won’t hand out death certificates to anyone who makes a request. Part of their job is to make sure requests are made by qualified individuals.
Ordering Certified Death Verifications
If you just want to know if a death record is on file with the Texas Vital Statistics Section that’s also possible. The VSS handles applications for death verification letters. You won’t receive all the details of what’s on the death certificate, but the death verification letter will provide the deceased’s name, date of death and county where the death occurred. Here again, the VSS will manage the process and make sure the requester meets certain requirements before releasing any information.
Making Death Record Corrections
If a death certificate needs a correction, the Vital Statistics Section will make it. You can get assistance from the funeral home within a certain timeframe or the local entity managing vital records, but you also have the option of going straight to the VSS. You’ll need to:
- Meet certain qualifications to make the request.
- Submit an amendment application by mail or in-person at a VSS office.
- Provide supporting documentation for the correction.
- Pay the associated fee.
Once the amendment packet is received, it will take the DSHS Vital Statistics Section 25-30 days to make the correction to the death certificate.
Do you have more questions about death certificates in Texas? The team at Green Cremation Texas can provide answers about obtaining death records and information about what we can do to help facilitate the process. We can be reached by phone, text or email at any time of day.