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Example of a 1908 Massachusetts State death record.

Massachusetts State Law: Chapter 46: Return and Registry of Births, Marriages, and Deaths mandates all death records, except for stillborn or fetal deaths, which are neither recorded as a birth nor death, are public records and are available for review, inspection, transcribing, or purchasing certified copies.


What are my Options to Get a MA Death Certificate?

  • Ordering a certified death record is a process that can be initiated at the State Registry of Vital Records.
  • It can also be ordered through any town or city clerk's office where the person last lived.
  • If you don't know the location of death, the State Registry maintains extensive records dating back to 1931 for the entire state.
  • In addition to the statewide index, every Massachusetts town or city maintains a ledger of deaths for residents who died in that community.
  • If you're looking for death records before 1931, the Massachusetts State Archives in Boston is your resource.

Quickly Order a State-certified Copy of a Massachusetts Death Certificate from 1931 - 2024

  • ALL death certificates are generated by the State Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
  • The cost is only $45 and it's delivered within 10 - 14 business days. Expedited service is available for even faster delivery.

What is the Best Source to Get a Massachusetts Death Certificate?

  • Buyer Beware! Only some towns or city records will have as much detail as a state copy.
  • Missing information only applies to death records before September 2014. That's when state electronic record-keeping first began.
  • Information "missing" before 2014 can vary significantly from town to town because, before 2014, there was no actual uniform recording of data.
  • Missing data might include all causes of death, not just the primary cause.
  • Key details like the exact location of death, the name and relationship of the informant, or the precise burial or cremation site, can also be missing.

Record Accessibility: Are Death Records Ever Restricted or Impounded?

  • "Massachusetts has no such thing as a restricted or impounded death record."
  • "All death records, including specific cause(s) of death and place of cremation or burial, are public records and open to inspection to anyone."

Source: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Boston, Massachusetts

Are Massachusetts Death Records Public Records?

  • Yes, death records in Massachusetts are public records.
  • Massachusetts State Law: "Chapter 46: Return and Registry of Births, Marriages, and Deaths" states death records are public records.
  • "Death certificates are public record, so any member of the public can obtain a copy at the city or town clerk's office where the death occurred."

Source: Official Website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts

How Do I Get a Copy?

  • It's simple.
  • But first, understand a town, a city, or a state-certified death certificate are all legal proof of a person's passing.
  • However, there are many reasons why you may need a State-certified copy of a death certificate, such as:
  • Providing evidence of death for life insurance claims.
  • Filing a Massachusetts probate court petition.
  • Claiming social security death benefits.
  • Transferring assets.
  • Applying for pension, retirement, or military benefits.

Quickly Order a State-certified Copy of a Massachusetts Death Certificate from 1931 - 2024

  • ALL death certificates are generated by the State Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
  • The cost is only $45 and it's delivered within 10 - 14 business days. Expedited service is available for even faster delivery.

Some Enhanced Security Features of State-Certified Death Records over a City or Town Copy

  • Embossed with Official Raised Massachusetts State Seal.
  • Signed by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
  • Contains the Original Date of Issue.
  • Printed on Secure, Watermarked, Heavyweight Paper.
  • Embedded with a Scannable, Digital Bar-Code for Tracking.
  • Stamped with Date Issued (Today's Date).

What If I Do Not Need a State-Certified Copy for an Official Purpose?

  • If you only need a copy for your records but still want a certified copy, a city or town death certificate should fill the need.
  • You can obtain a city or town-certified death certificate by contacting the town or city clerk's office where the decedent died or officially resided.
  • Some cities, such as Worcester have online death order forms on their websites.
  • Most smaller towns, such as Medfield, only accept mail-in or walk-in applications.

Pluses and Minuses of City or Town Death Certificates

  • The biggest plus of city/town certificates is that they are generally less expensive than state-certified copies.
  • The most significant minus - except for post-2015 death certificates - is they may not contain the same information as that on state-certified records.
  • They take longer to obtain and are less official appearing than state copies (printed on lightweight paper with no watermarks).
  • Records before September 2014 do not always include ALL causes of death, just the primary ones.
  • Most importantly, some agencies, such as Social Security, refuse to accept them.
  • This non-acceptance is especially true if you live in California, Colorado, or outside the country.

What If I Want to Get Death Records for Genealogical Information?

  • We offer transcribed death records for genealogical studies if you want the information for a family history project.
  • Our transcribed records are not certified records. You can not use them for any official purpose. They are strictly for genealogy research.
  • We understand the importance of accuracy and timeliness regarding transcription services.
  • We deliver your transcriptions promptly and to the best of our abilities.
  • While these transcriptions may not be certified, our team of experienced professionals strives to ensure their reliability and accuracy.
  • We guarantee quality and efficient service to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
  • For an appreciation of what transcribed Massachusetts death records look like, here is an example.
  • Transcriptions are recorded directly from state death certificates at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston.
  • All genealogical-related information is painstakingly recorded, checked, and rechecked for spelling and accuracy.

Quickly Order a Transcribed Copy of a Massachusetts Death Certificate from 1931 - 2024

  • ALL death record transcriptions are performed at the State Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
  • The cost is only $20 and it's delivered as a PDf to your email within 10 - 14 business days.

What Information is on a Massachusetts Death Certificate?

  • First, Middle (sometimes, or initial), and last name of the decedent.
  • Place of death, including a specific address, and whether a residence or other institution.
  • Month, day, and year of death.
  • The exact time of death is not always recorded in older records.
  • The decedent's age - usually in years, sometimes in a specific number of years, months, and days.
  • Their specific birth date and place of birth (not always accurate or known).
  • Marital status (single, divorced, widowed) name of current or last spouse.
  • Name of the father (not always filled in).
  • Name of the mother (not always filled in).
  • Birthplace of parents (not always known).
  • Causes of death, primary and secondary or contributing.
  • Date and place of burial or cremation.
  • Name of funeral home or director.
  • Name of physician or medical examiner.
  • Name of informant (usually states how they relate to the decedent, if any).
Author Profile

About the Author

J. James Simonson, a Suffolk University Journalism graduate, has been a key player in genealogy research since the 1990s. Renowned for his work in Massachusetts birth, marriage, and death documents, he has helped piece together complex family histories. Simonson’s talent for revealing hidden family connections and unknown relatives has greatly enriched family trees. His research stretches from local New England records to global historical sources. Actively participating in genealogy conferences, Simonson is dedicated to helping people uncover their ancestral stories, significantly impacting the field.