What is a Death Certificate and Why is it Needed?
A Death Certificate is a document issued by the Government to the nearest relatives of the deceased, stating the date, fact and cause of death. It is essential to register death to prove the time and date of death, to establish the fact of death for relieving the individual from social, legal and official obligations, to enable settlement of property inheritance, and to authorise the family to collect insurance and other benefits.
The Legal Framework
In India, it is mandatory under the law (as per the Registration of Births & Deaths Act, 1969 (External website that opens in a new window)) to register every death with the concerned State/UT Government within 21 days of its occurrence. The Government accordingly has provided for a well-defined system for registration of Death, with the Registrar General, India, at the centre and the Chief Registrars in States, running through district registrars to the village and town registrars at the periphery.
What You Need to Do to Obtain a Death Certificate
A death can be reported and registered by the head of the family, in case it occurs in a house; by the medical in-charge if it occurs in a hospital; by the jail in-charge if it occurs in a jail; and by the headman of the village or the in-charge of the local police station in case the body is found deserted in that area.
To apply for a Death Certificate, you must first register the death. The death has to be registered with the concerned local authorities within 21 days of its occurrence, by filling up the form prescribed by the Registrar. Death Certificate is then issued after proper verification.
If a death is not registered within 21 days of its occurrence, permission from the Registrar/Area Magistrate, along with the fee prescribed in case of late registration, is required.
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. You might also need to submit 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.