How To Order A Tennessee Death Certificate

(Information correct on 02/05/2012)


The Tennessee State Library and Archives has allowed to make copies of it's death certificates, and had to agree to allow all people to view the index to the death certtificates for the years 1908-1959.

Link for out-of-state residents:


The images can also be seen for free by TN residents (only). You absolutely must enter through the TNTEL website, and where it says "Genealogy" on the TNTEL site, click that icon to see a list where it will say "Tennessee Death Records". Click that link. When you get to, you will have to sign up for a free account, or use the same account you already had- like the one for their message boards. No charge at all. The link to that is here:


There is also the link to TSLA's own death certificate index (still ongoing and only an index) on the main page of this Grundy Co., TN GenWeb site.

For out-of-state residents, there is one more free resource. Since I live in Tennessee and have access to the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville, I will get death certificates for free from the years currently kept at TSLA (currently 1908-1959) for those who email me with a request. You must be able to receive these copies as an attachment to an email, or else postage and mailing supplies will be charged. I am making this offer mainly for researchers of Grundy Co., TN genealogy, and requests concerning that county get priortity, but I will consider requests as time allows for other TN counties, especially nearby ones. Since you have all these indexes, you should look up the person you are searching for and give me the date, name, and where possible the certificate number. Please allow time for me to obtain the copies, since I have to travel. My email address is near the  top of the main page of the Grundy Co., TN GenWeb site (the page of Grundy Co., TN GenWeb that linked to this page). The copies you receive will not be certified. For certified copies see the next section below.

Return To Grundy Co., TN main page



The following information is not to obtain free copies of death certificates, but copies for a fee.

The death certificates through 1959 are available at TSLA (the state archives) only, and everyone can obtain certified copies of years up through 1959. See the link to order from TSLA at the bottom of this page. After that year, they are available only from the TN State Health Department, Office of Vital Records. One thing you should be aware of is that the instructions given by the TN State Health Department on their web site are deceptive and might possibly waste your time and money.

Here is the truth:

If you are the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, you can order a certified copy of a death certificate from the Office of Vital Records, and you can choose whether the certified record will contain the cause of death or not. This is a useless option, because it is pointless for an elligible person to purchase a certified copy of a death certificate that is anything less than the full record when either can be obtained for the same price. The cost is the same regardless- currently $7.

The deception is that they say that anyone can obtain the certified one without the death information. That is untrue. I have tried that, and I was rejected and told that only a spouse, child, or parent could obtain that. Otherwise, If you are reading this in researching your genealogy, you surely are not closely related enough, and will have to order a "Verification of Death Facts" for $15. You can download and print the forms from their web site link below.

The "verification" form has places on the back which I am told are where the Office of Vital Records just transcribes all the data except for the cause of death onto the form, and you should not write anything on this part of the form. The truth is that they are too busy to do that, and what you will really receive is an uncertified photocopy of the actual death certificate with the medical information hidden at twice the cost of a complete certified copy. The front of the form is where you fill out your name and address and tell them the name of the person you are seeking and the year you want searched. The more correct the information is that you give, the better the results. They charge $15 per year searched per certificate; so it is best that you find your deceased person in the Shelby County Registrar's statewide death index or the index and seek to know the year, county, and full date before you send anything. In entering the information on the form, try to use the name exactly as it appears in the death index, if you find your person there. Links to all the existing death indexes for Tennessee are on the Grundy County GenWeb main page.

Tennessee state law has stipulated that all death certificates be kept private for 50 years. If you need a certificate for a death in 1959 or before (currently the case on 02/05/2012) you can avoid the Health Department hassle and get the real thing, certified or not, from TSLA.

TSLA charges (currently on 10/24/2010), $10 for in-state residents and $20 for out-of-state residents. They add $5 more to certify it.

Links to Order:

Death certificates from Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA)

Tennessee State Health Dept., Office of Vital Records death certificate ordering information