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Death Certificate: Its Need and Application in India

Written by:
Antim Amlan
Published on

A Death Certificate is an official document issued by the government that declares the cause of death, location of death, time of death and some other personal information about the deceased. There could be a myriad of reasons — of both personal and public significance —  as to why you may need to get a death certificate. Primarily, this document serves as a proof for legal purposes.

These reasons may include accessing pension benefits, claiming life insurance, settling estates etc. Government officials may need the same for investigation purposes. Analytics on general causes of deaths, or for the purpose of directing policies in that respect by the government might as well need to depend on death certificates as a reliable source of data.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why you may need to get a death certificate

  2. Who has to report and register death?

  3. How to apply for Death Certificate?


Consult: Best Family Lawyers in India

Why you may need to get a death certificate

It is mandatory, in India, as per the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 (hereafter referred to as “the act”) to register every death with the concerned State/UT Government within 21 days of its occurrence. Primarily, to get a death certificate issued, you need to register the death with the concerned local authorities within 21 days of its occurrence.

Doing the same within 21 days would save you the trouble of filing additional documents and paying late fees, depending on the amount of delay, which gets imposed if the registration gets late. The concerned section dealing with the same is Section 12 of the act.

Who has to report and register death?

A death can be reported and registered by these specified sets of people depending on the circumstances, namely: 

  • The head of the family, if it’s an instance of death at the house

  • By the medical in-charge, if it’s an instance of occurrence at a hospital

  • By the jail in-charge, if it happens in a jail

  • By the village headman or the police station in-charge of the concerned police station, if a deserted body is found in the area. 

As per the act, it is the duty of the concerned persons to register the deaths.

How to apply for Death Certificate?

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How to apply for Death Certificate?

The act draws out a well-defined legal framework, with the required hierarchy and allied statutory provisions, for the registration of deaths. This part will essentially describe how to get a death certificate in India, along with the process involved.

The application form in which you are required to apply is usually available with the area's local body authorities, or with the Registrar who maintains the Register of Deaths. This has to be obtained, filled, and submitted accordingly. 

It is pertinent to take note of the documents required for the death certificate process. These are:

  • Proof of birth of the deceased

  • An affidavit specifying the date and time of death

  • A copy of the ration card and the required fee in the form of court fee stamps. 

The concerned person requesting the death certificate is required to provide evidence of relationship with the deceased and complete address with nationality.

You can now apply for Death Certificate online too, through the National Government Services Portal.


Written by: Jesse Jacob V

National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi (3rd Year)