Requesting PA Death Certificates

It can be confusing finding and ordering genealogy copies of PA death certificates.

Pennsylvania Death Certificates from 1906-1944 are now available for research online at is a paid subscription site. However, Pennsylvania residents may access these records free through Pennsylvania.

Death certificates, 1906-1963, may be requested from the State Archives

To request non-certified death certificates you need to obtain information from both the Pennsylvania State Archives and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. To apply for a certified or a non-certified copy of a death certificate you must search the Pennsylvania death indices to obtain a Pennsylvania State File number.

How to obtain a Pennsylvania State File number:

    1. Go to: Department of HealthDivision of Vital Records.
      • Read the information on how to search the records.
      • Many years use the Russell Soundex method of indexing.
    2. Go to: Public Records – Death Indices
      • Click on the year you are interested in viewing.
        This will display a list of PDF records in alphabetical order.

Example; I’m looking for Adams in the 1928 records.

        1. I clicked on the “D-28 A-B.pdf” link. (D-28 – Death Record 1928)
          • Once the PDF opens a list of alphabetical bookmarks will be available on the left side of the page.
        2. Click on the letters (I clicked on “ADA” for Adams) of the surname you are looking for.
          • Once you locate the person you are looking for copy the information.
          • I also copy the URL (link) at the top of the page for my records.

Example; Adams, William H; — 83701; Reading; Aug 30 make sure to add the year 1928.

Now you have the date of death, the city, and the certificate file number; 83701.

3.  Complete the Request Form

For a non-certified copy go to the Vital Statistics Records at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Read the information and click on the Vital Records Request Form (PDF)

To apply for a certified copy of the death certificate, the information, form and mailing address is at the bottom of the Department of Health – Division of Vital Records

You must know the full name of the person, the date of death, and the certificate number. The fees and address are located on the form.