How To Obtain A Death Certificate In Ontario
After someone close to you passes away, you might need to order a copy of their death certificate. Death certificates serve as proof of death when you need to make arrangements over a deceased person’s property and belongings.
Death certificate basics
A death certificate is a legal document issued by a medical practitioner or government office that states information on a deceased individual’s name, time, date, location, and cause of death.
When you apply for the certificate, you can request to receive multiple copies by contacting one of the many local registrar offices within Ontario. If you happen to live in a province outside of Ontario, check out this website to search for how to apply within your province.
Why do I need a death certificate?
There are many reasons you may need to order a death certificate, including the following:
- If you’re an executor or estate trustee trying to settle an estate
- Access to/termination of government services of the deceased person (ex. pension, health card)
Contrary to what you may think, proof provided by a funeral director may not be enough. A death certificate serves as a more reliable source and confirmation of death because it has government approval. Rest assured, the process of acquiring one is easy as long as you have the required information.
Death certificates vs. Certified copy of death registration
Certified copies of death registration are slightly different from your regular death certificates. While anyone is eligible to apply for a basic death certificate, only the next of kin (like a sibling, parent, spouse or common-law) or an authorized representative (estate administrators, etc.) of the deceased person can apply for a certified copy of death registration.
A certified copy of death registration typically includes more information, including the medical cause of death. If you request one, you need authorization from an estate administrator. Meanwhile, a regular certificate only contains the deceased person’s basic information, like the name and date of death, and does not require authorization.
Do they require different application processes?
Both types of documents serve the same purposes (like insurance, settling an estate), and use the same application process.
You can request a certified copy of death registration or death certificate to include information about the cause of death too. Cause of death information will be used by Health Canada for research and statistics, so keep this in mind as you request for your document.
How to apply for and order a death certificate in Ontario
Applying is easy when you have the necessary information about the deceased person. You can order one copy or multiple copies of the document if you need to.
To obtain and apply for a death certificate in Ontario, you must apply online, by fax, email, or in person, by completing the Request for Certificate application form.
To apply, you must complete the application and have the following information about the deceased person ready:
- Full name (or single name if they were mononymous)
- Date of birth
- Date of death
- Name of the city in which the death took place
- Parental information about the person who died
- Information on the spouse or partner of the person who died, if applicable
To apply online, you must complete the online application form. After completing the form, you’ll be able to order the document to be delivered to your home.
You can pay for delivery fees by credit card once you complete the online application. Due to COVID-19, you might prefer to obtain a certificate online to maintain social distancing. During the process, you’ll also be able to indicate the number of copies you’d like.
How long does delivery take?
Certificates are sent out after your completed application is registered and your payment is processed. Delivery may take about 15 business days if you choose to order through regular delivery service through Canada Post, at a cost of $15. Keep in mind that delivery may take longer due to physical distancing measures to ensure the safety of mail delivery employees.
Are there faster delivery options?
If you require faster delivery, you might want to consider paying extra for premium delivery at $45. Premium service is currently available for which takes about 5 business days. If you’re unsure about whether your application was successfully submitted, feel free to contact ServiceOntario.
What if I don’t know the time and place of death?
If you do not know the exact date or place of death of a person, you can request a death search online. A death search is done to verify that a death is registered in Ontario and will search for this information for you.
How to request a death search
While filling out the death certificate application, simply check off “I would like to apply for a death search”. Once you receive the date of death after a couple of weeks, you can finish completing your certificate request application.
Applying by fax or mail
You can also apply and order the certificate by fax or mail. Download and complete the Request for Certificate application and send it to the number or address listed through fax or mail. Again, you can indicate the number of copies wanted.
Where can I mail my request to?
If you plan to mail your completed application form and fees, you must send it to the following address:
The Office of the Registrar General, ServiceOntario
189 Red River Road, PO Box 4600
Thunder Bay, ON
Where can I fax my application?
You can also fax your completed application to 1-807-343-7459. Please account for the time it will take to mail your documents to you.
Delivery after faxing or mailing
Regular delivery time takes about 6-8 weeks through Canada Post if you choose the fax or mailing process. If you need the order within 5 business days, you can pay the premium service fee.
Payment differs depending on your method of completing the application. When faxing, you can pay by credit card. When you choose the mail-in option, you can pay by credit card or money order. Check out payment methods and pricing listed on the Ontario Government website.
Applying in person
If you prefer to apply and order for a certificate in person, you can do so at your local ServiceOntario office. ServiceOntario is the only government-authorized source for Ontario certificates. To find out which ServiceOntario office closest to you handles death certificates, call 1-800-461-2156.
What if I need the certificate ASAP?
Suppose you must obtain a death certificate or certified copy of death registration in a very short amount of time, you can apply through the emergency service. This service is offered in person only. To find a ServiceOntario centre that accepts emergency service requests, call 1-800-461-2156.
Certificates will deliver through mail within 5 business days in vital emergency situations if the event is registered. To be eligible for emergency service, you must have proof of urgency in your application (travel reservations, etc.) Make sure to bring this with you when you visit the centre.
What happens if the death took place a long time ago?
Keep in mind that registration of death certificates for anyone who passed away prior to 1991 may take up to 6-8 weeks after your order. This is because it takes time to convert the certificate into an online form.