How Long Does it Take to Get Death Certificates in Texas?
Texas’ new electronic registration system is leaving funeral directors frustrated and families waiting for death certificates for up to six weeks.
On January 1, 2019 the State of Texas launched the Texas Electronic Vital Events Registrar (TxEVER). TxEver replaced the obsolete Texas Electronic Registration (TER) system that had been used since 2007 to register deaths electronically in Texas. In order to use the new TxEver system, funeral directors and medical certifiers have had to complete training and be reissued new login credentials in order to use the system.
DEATH CERTIFICATION TIMELINE
When a person dies it is the responsibility of the funeral director or person acting as such to file a death certificate (record) with the State of Texas. In Texas the death record must be submitted to the state within 10 days of the date of death. A physician, medical examiner or Justice of the Peace who is required to medically certify the death record has five days to certify the death once he/she is notified and receives the death record.
FILING THE RECORD
Once the medical certification is complete the funeral director must submit the death certificate electronically to the Texas Department of State Health Services – Vital Records Division in Austin, TX. Unfortunately, there is no statutory requirement on the amount of time the State has to issue certified copies of the death certificate.
RECEIVING CERTIFIED COPIES
Currently it is taking approximately 3 to 4 weeks from the time we file the record until we receive the certified copies of the death certificate. I can only assume that the delay is due to staffing shortages at the Department of State Health Services.
Every funeral establishment in Texas is experiencing delays. We at Lone Star Cremation share your frustration! Our goal is to complete the cremation and secure death certificates for the families we serve in a timely and professional manner.
Roy H Kiser, Jr.
Roy is a Texas’ Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer, Pre-Need Insurance Agent and a Certified Crematory Operator. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service. He is the owner of Lone Star Cremation and has been actively involved in funeral service since 1990. Lone Star Cremation provides high value, affordable cremation services in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco areas.
My sister died on December 19, 2018, Amarillo Texas and we have not received a death certificate as of April 14, 2019.
The hard ship this is causing families is not right. No accounts can be closes, no insurance can be paid, ,but the premiums still have to be paid each month even though the person has passed.
I hope the funeral home you used finally got you the death certificates. If you have a chance share you experience with your state representative. That appears to be the only way this situation has a chance of getting resolved.
My brother passed away at my home in belton texas he was a hospice patient on September 27 2021 he passed away this is November and I havent received the death certificate as of yet.
Enough time has passed that they should be arriving soon. Sometimes the process can take 4 to 6 weeks. I would reach out to the funeral provider for an update.
My husband accidentally died on April 28. His death certificate reads that methanphetamine was found in his body at the time he was admitted to the ER. He has never and currently was not doing ANY illegal drugs. He was, however taking Adderall for AADD. Whomever filled out his death certificate royally messed up. His toxicology reports say NOTHING about illegal drugs in his system. Now I’m battling the hospital to have it corrected. Can I take legal action against the hospital?
In Texas, death certificates are certified by a physician, medical examiner or Justice of the Peace. If he died in the ER and an autopsy was performed and toxicology was ordered, then in all probability the death certificate was certified by a medical examiner. (It should say on the death certificate.) The hospital where he died would have nothing to do with the stated cause of death. Death certificates can be medically amended in Texas if the person who certified the death believes there was an error in determining the cause of death. However, if in fact it was a medical examiner who signed the death certificate then the cause of death is final. You should contact the funeral provider who handled his arrangements for more detailed information.
Has the process of waiting on death certificate improved since April 2019, just wondering how long of a wait it would be for me and my family. Thank you
We have seen some improvement but it is very sporadic. We are currently seeing average wait times of approximately 2 to 3 weeks from the time we file until we receive the certified death certificates. However, some records are still taking as long as 4 to 5 weeks.
Thank you so much, I appreciate the fast response.
My husband died in Shreveport la but his autopsy was done in Dallas TX who will have the death certificate
The death certificate will be on file in Louisiana since that was the place of death. Your funeral director should be coordinating this for you. The autopsy was done in Dallas in all likelihood because the Shreveport Coroner’s Office sent the body to Dallas for autopsy. Not all coroner’s office have the ability to do autopsies in-house.
My mom dies suddenly due to medication prescribed by Primary Care Physician which was wrongfully prescribed (a black box warning was issued by FDA) this should have been the cause of death yet the PCP was the one who filled out the death certificate and failed to state that on certificate. PCP also failed to properly complete the certificate what can I do.
In Texas if the cause of death is mistakingly completed on the death certificate it can be amended by the person who certified the death. You can request that the PCP amend the death certificate. However, it is highly unlikely that he/she would be willing to change the cause of death based on your assumptions. I have had families that ordered a private autopsy and used those findings to pursue a legal resolution. I am assuming your mother’s remains have already been buried or cremated? If this is the case, your options will be limited.
My father recently passed on September 14, 2019 due to pancreatic cancer. The hospice doctor has yet to determine cause of death and the death record has not been submitted. Is there anything we can do? What are our next steps? Dad wanted to be cremated and his body has been in cold storage since his death. Any information would be appreciated. So hard for us.
By law the doctor has 10 days to sign the death certificate. There is very little you can do until his allowed time has elapsed. Request that your cremation provider call the doctor every day until the death certificate is signed. I would also call the hospice and express your concern.
My husband passed away on October 8th, 2019. After the paperwork sat at county court house for 4 days, it was finally sent off, however his SS number had 2 numbers switched.
I have contacted the funeral home numerous times to see what’s being done but I get the runaround. We live in a very small town with one funeral home.
Is there anything I can do on my part to expedite getting the death certificates before I lose my home?
Thank you, Shirley
We have seen some progress with getting certified copies of the death certificate. Our wait times are now between 2 to 3 weeks. However, if your husband’s death certificate was filled with an incorrect SS number it will have to be amended. Your funeral home can file an amendment but it will take months to amend the original document. I would ask whomever you are dealing with if they will accept some other form of documentation to prove death. The funeral home can supply you with a Report of Death. This is an informal document that reports the death to the local registrar. We have seen some success with this in situations where obtaining certified deaths certificates has been delayed.
Best of Luck,
Thanks for sharing such an informative post with us. My husband died last year in an accident, that time Online Vitals help me in finding the local vital record office near me. I think everyone who faced or facing problem in getting death certificates, Vital Records help them.
My 95 year old friend died while on a trip to Texas. The funeral home did a great job getting her body back to Los Angeles. The first certificates came fairly fast but the extra I need have not been sent in 7 months, my friend died on May 30th, 2019. The funeral home keeps saying they haven’t come in yet they will call when they are in (they haven’t,I have to call them). Every time I call a different person gives me the same answer. I’m very frustrated because I need those certificates.
Hi Joan, Was there an amendment to the original death certificate? If so that would explain the delay. Amended death certificates can take 9 to 18 months from the time the amendment is filled before you receive your certified copies. If there was no amendment, then there is no reason you shouldn’t have your copies.
Syntha Jane Traughber West
My husband died December 20. 2019. His Celebration of Life Service and burial was performed on December 29 and done excellently by a local funeral home. But I haven’t yet received death certificates and am struggling since I can’t file any insurance claims. I have called the funeral home director several times who keeps telling me they should be in any day. But today is February 4, 2020, and I am totally frustrated with “the system” or whomever/whatever is holding them up. Is there any place I can call to take matters into my own hands to see what the holdup is. His cause of death was no issue whatsoever so no need for a delay there. What can I do next?
Unfortunately, there is not much that you or anyone else can do. The system is what it is. The time frame that your funeral provider is telling you is in line with what we are experiencing for our clients. If your husband died on December 20th and the physician certified the death and the record was filed within 10 days then it has been approximately 6 weeks since the record was submitted to the state. We are currently seeing delays on the average of 3 to 4 weeks but some records have been taking as long as 6 to 8 weeks. You should be getting them soon!
If a family member request to keep information of a death ,certificate,etc . How long can that be done for. If infinitely, is there another way to find out ?
For deaths within the past 25 years, only the immediate family members to the person whose name is on the death certificate are eligible to request a copy. All others who are not immediate family members to this person must provide legal documentation, such as a court order to request a copy.
Is there anywhere, (state county , internet , etc. ) that can tell you the very basic answer , yes or no, if someone has died?
My son died on Feb 19th am Iable to see the medical report from his autopsy would you know that or would I have to call the hospital?
You would need to call the hospital
My name is Sofie Collins
My brother passed away on July 15, 2020. He passed away at McAllen Medical Hospital in McAllen Tx. Rivera funeral home took his body. He was buried at the veterans cemetery on July 28, 2020. We are having trouble getting a death certificate. My brother was a veteran as well as a police officer. Thank you
You need to contact the funeral home that filed the death certificate.
My dad passed unexpectedly on Oct 27th. He passed away in his sleep and all we keep hearing from the JP is results are inconclusive. I’m struggling to keep my mom going and my family because all life insurance and finances cannot be touched without death certificate. They’re saying it’s 8-10 weeks is fast. Does this sound right?
Hi Wade, The timeline sounds about right. Many JP’s will not certify the death until they have the autopsy results. Very frustrating but unfortunately there is nothing to do but wait. Regards, Roy.
John H. Phelan
Do you have an update on the general wait time for November – December 2020?
Assuming no autopsy and someone passing away in a facility, is 4 weeks a reasonable wait time?
Four weeks is reasonable. Especially considering COVID and the disruption it has caused.
My dad 85 passed in hospital on Dec.23,2019 Tyler TX. Here it is
Jan.25, 2021 funeralhome keep saying its hospital(Doctors)holding up but family know [email protected] also found out dads so called friend had life policy on him didn’t t want grown kids to know were very close with dad. This is so much more went on ,was told he had ESBL infection after being in there month or so went in w/ doubke head concussion some dementia checked w/ Vital certificate @ they sent copies but funeralhome keep lying saying don t have . But his job of retirement closed what acct. He had in 6 month after death yet still year 2 days Need answers really bad. So stressedfull. Thank you!
Sounds like you will need to procure death certificates yourself. If you were not the one who made the funeral arrangements the funeral home is under no obligation to assist you. Since you are a legal next of kin you can place an order yourself for death certificates. Death certificates for Tyler, TX will be on file with the Smith County Clerk.
Thank you for your helpful blog. My questions is related to statutory regulations of funeral homes and verifying that a death certificate process is being followed.
.The funeral home we contracted did not send out a request to the doctor to certify the cause of death so that the death certificate could be filed with the state for **8 weeks**. Q1. Is there an authority overseeing funeral homes that we can report this to? We believe this should be brought to someone’s attention.
Also we have confirmed with the doctor it was signed but now we are trying to determine if the funeral home sent the certificate to the state. Q2. Is there any system or state service to check on the status of this? We are concerned that there are ongoing delays with this funeral home.
We thank you again for your kind service to the public.
Your best option is to contact the Bureau of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Division in Austin. They should be able to answer all your questions. They will be able to tell you when the death certificate was entered into the system, when it was certified by the doctor and when the death certificates were ordered and the approximate delivery day.
Thank you so much.
My brother in law died July 22, 2020. My sister still has not received his death certificate from Austin! She cannot put the house in her name, settle with insurance, etc. Was is wrong with that office? He died in Jasper County.
Sounds like there is more to the story. If it was a Justice of the Peace case, he may be waiting on Autopsy findings to complete the death certificate. Otherwise I would investigate further. That time frame is unacceptable.
How would one request the JP to update cause of death once the autopsy has been completed? (Certificate currently lists cause of death as ‘pending’)
Pending death certificates are common any time an autopsy is ordered by the Medical Examiner or Justice of the Peace. The JP will update the record once he has received the autopsy results which could take up to 6 months. I would follow up with the JP’s office and see where they are in the process. Other than that, you just have to wait.
Hi,my dad passed away in 4 June this year in Texas,and we apply for the death certificate from 17 June,soon is gonna be 2 month since we apply for the death certificate,why is taking so long?
That length of time is outside the range of what we are currently seeing. I would contact the funeral provider for additional explanation.
My brother passed away on July 1st from self induced carbon monoxide poisoning. Harris County issued a death certificate with cause “pending”. Estate and insurance is on hold until a revised certificate listing cause and manner can be issued. They’re telling me it could be 8 – 12 months while they wait for toxicology report. This is unacceptable. I’ve had to request waivers from the insurance company because they have a 12 month period to pay out. I’m executor of his estate and pretty much everything is on hold awaiting a final certificate.
Hi. My father in law passed away on August 30, 2021. How long will it be till we receive the death certificate?
Death certificates are taking 3 to 4 weeks to arrive from the time they are ordered. If the death occurred on Aug. 30th and they were ordered on Sept. 10th then they should arrive the first week of October.
If a person died 2021 December and a toxicology test was completed when can I expect the results and how long does it take the death certificate to be updated from pending
It depends on the medical examiner of justice of the peace that is performing the inquest. However, in most cases the death certificate will be amended with the cause of death within 60 to 90 days.
If a death certificate is undated with accidental drug overdose has any experienced problems with insurance companies paying out
In Texas most all insurance companies have a contestable period (usually 2 years) during which they can challenge a claim. Otherwise if the policy is in force and is not in the contestable period the insurance company must pay. However, every policy is different. Be sure and read the fine print!
Hello! My father passed away of a sudden heart attack August 28th, 2022. What are the current wait times you are seeing to receive death certificates?
Three to Four Weeks
HI, my son passed unexpectedly on Sept. 16th. His autopsy is ongoing and appears it will take ” up to 3 months” according to the examiner . My question, Can a death certificate be completed and issued regardless? I’m told by my funeral home that they can”t do a death certificate until the autopsy is completed. Is this correct? I’ve google this topic and it says otherwise that a death certificate can be issued as “pending ” or ” unknown” cause of death and later updated when actual cause of death is determined.
I need my death certificate now and 3 months seems like an almost unrealistic wait for a death certificate. Can you tell me if I have any alternative or what can I do. Thank You.
In Texas a death certificate must be filed in 10 days. If the cause of death is unknown until the medical examiner has completed the autopsy then a “pending” death certificate must be filed. Then at such time that the medical examiner “knows” the cause of death he will amend the death certificate with his findings. I have run into your situation before when the certifier is a Justice of the Peace. They sometimes will not sign the death certificate until they have the final autopsy findings. If this is your situation I would remind the judge’s office that they need to certify the death as “pending” and amend it when the findings are known. Unfortunately, there are no death certificate police to enforce state law in this regard. You may ultimately just have to wait.
Adela De Leon
HI, my son passed unexpectedly on April 16th, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas. He had a history of seizures and in March of 2021, the doctor that treated him then did state that if he was to have another seizure he would die from it. His autopsy was done in Ft Worth, Texas. I call at least once a month on the status of his death certificate on every call I get the same response that his death certificate is pending. I would like to have a copy of the autopsy report and his death certificate. I just do not understand that the autopsy was done why it is taking so long, a year is just a few months away. It really hurts not to know why or how he died.
From our experience this is taking too long. I would contact your funeral/cremation provider and have them look into this.
My brother passed away Nov 9, 2022. Its been 12 weeks and still do not have a death certificate. Can the funeral home legally withhold the death certificates from me after I paid for them in the contract with them?
If the bill with the funeral home has been paid and you are the one that made arrangements then there is no reason that they would withhold the death certificates from you. I would call the funeral home and inquire as to what they think is causing the delay.