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How to Find a Death Record in Maine?

What Are Death Records in Maine?

Maine death records are vital documents registering deaths that occured in the state. In Maine, death records are death certificates. These certified documents that can be used to confirm the identities of deceased individuals. They also provide additional information about the deaths recorded. A typical Maine death certificate contains the following details:

  • Full name of the decedent
  • Biodata of the decedent including their age, gender, and race
  • Where and when the decedent was born
  • Where and when the decedent died
  • Last known address of the decedent
  • Cause of death
  • Signature and name of medical officer, coroner, or physician providing cause of death
  • Full names of the parents of the decedent
  • Name and address of the funeral home tasked with handling the remains of the deceased
  • Death record registration number

Maine keeps a record of every death reported in the state for a number of reasons. Such records help it calculate its population growth and update census figures and voters’ databases. The state also uses death records to estimate the age distribution of its population. Such pieces of information are useful when planning and executing public health initiatives such as vaccination drives.

Surviving relatives of decedents as well as their legal representatives also need and request for death records. A Maine death record certifies the death of the individual named in the document and allows executors to fulfil the will of the deceased. A certified death certificate can also be used in court to establish parentage and lineage in guardianship and estate matters. Furthermore, the family of the deceased or the named next-of-kin requires this document to claim insurance benefits and due pension payments.

Maine also allows genealogists access to its death records. They use such records to trace lineages and construct family histories. Medical scientists may also access death records as part of search into mortality and morbidity trends. These records are helpful at discovering emerging health trends.

How are Death Records Created in Maine?

The funeral director of the home contracted to handle the final arrangements of the decedent is responsible for completing the death record. For individuals that wish to be cremated, the head of the crematorium is assigned this task. The person responsible obtains and provides the information request in the death certificate. They may need to speak with the family of the deceased to get certain personal information such as the names of the decedent’s parents and last known address.

The funeral director also brings the document to the coroner, medical examiner, or physician that certified the death and provided a cause of death. This individual then signs the document. The complete death certificate is then sent to the Maine Vital Records. This is the Division of Data, Research, and Vital Statistics (DRVS), a unit of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The DVRS allows funeral directors to register deaths online through its Database Application for Vital Events (DAVE) portal. Once submitted, the state’s Vital Records registers this document as well as the death described. Those wishing to obtain copies of the vital record may then request it from the DRVS.

How to Find Death Records Online in Maine

Maine is a closed record state and maintains death records as confidential records for the first 25 years after creating them. For fetal death, records are considered confidential and private for 50 years. During these periods, Maine death records are only available to those deemed eligible. This means that they are not public records and cannot be viewed online. However, it is possible to confirm the existence of a Maine death record online. To look up a Maine death record, search for it using the Maine Vital Records Death Index. This portal is mostly meant for genealogists and municipal clerks. Users must register and log in to access the index and search for records by the names of the decedents, dates of death, or locations of death.

The DVRS allows eligible members of the public to request for death records online. However, it does not directly accept online requests. Rather, it receives them through a third-party partner.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Find Death Records for Free in Maine

Maine does not provide death records for free. It charges nominal fees for eligible individuals requesting copies of certified death certificates. It also charges copy fees for non-certified copies of death records that are no longer confidential and have become accessible to the public.

Where Can I Get Death Records in Maine?

Maine death records are only available from the Data, Research, and Vital Statistics (DRVS) office of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). Besides the main state office, eligible individuals can also request certified death certificates from most of the municipal clerk’s offices in the state.

Maine only accepts mail and online requests for death records. All online requests go through the approved third-party request processor while mail requests must be sent to the state DRVS office and municipal clerks’ offices.

To request certified copies of a death record from the Maine DVRS office, submit a written request along with a completed Application for a Search and Certified Copy of a Vital Record. Enclose a copy of your photo ID, a check or money order for payment, and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Send this request to:

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)
220 Capitol Street
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

Acceptable forms of identification include passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued photo IDs. If you do not have any of these, Maine accept any two of the following IDs:

  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Car registration
  • Copy of an income tax return
  • Personal check with address
  • Previously issued vital record or marriage license
  • Letter from a government agency requesting a vital record
  • Department of Corrections identification card
  • Social Security card
  • Military discharge papers, DD214
  • Hospital birth worksheet
  • License or rental agreement
  • Pay stub (W-2)
  • Voter registration card
  • Social Security disability award letter
  • Medicare or Medicaid insurance card
  • School or employee photo ID

The Maine DVRS office will also consider other forms of IDs listing the requester’s name, address, and date of birth.

Besides valid photo identifications, Maine also requires requesters to provide proofs of their relationships to the decedents listed on the records sought. To establish a direct lineage to the person named in a Maine death record, the requester must present their birth certificate. The DVRS also accepts other proofs of direct lineage such as:

  • Hospital or physician's record of birth or death,
  • Baptismal record
  • School enrollment records
  • Military records
  • Court records
  • Family bible record
  • Newspaper engagement, marriage or birth announcement
  • An obituary
  • U.S. Census enumeration record
  • Insurance application
  • An affidavit

When applying for copies of a Maine death certificate from a municipal clerk’s office, visit the website of the city or county or contact the office by phone. Maine municipal clerks’ offices may have different requirements for providing certified death certificates. They do have different request forms.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in Maine?

No. For the first 25 years after registering a death, only certain individuals are deemed eligible to view and obtain copies of the death certificate. Individuals allowed to get certified copies of a Maine death certificate are:

  • Parents of the decedent named in the death record
  • Descendants of the decedent including children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren
  • Spouse or registered domestic partner of the decedent
  • Legal guardian or custodian of the decedent
  • Authorized representatives of the decedent

When requesting a Maine death record, these individuals must demonstrate their relationship to the individual named on the record. Maine also allows registered genealogists to obtain copies of death records upon request. These must be genealogists with valid research cards issued by the DVRS. These researchers can obtain non-certified copies of Maine death certificates. They may request for certified copies only if they are directly related to the decedents listed on their records requested.

Anyone can obtain copies of Maine death certificates that are 25 years or older. For fetal death records, the seal of confidentiality is lifted after 50 years. When these become public records, the DVRS will issue informational or plain copies of requested death records.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Maine?

Maine’s DVRS office charges $15 for the first certified copy of a death certificate requested. Each additional copy of the same record ordered at the same time costs $6. The fee for non-certified or informational or plain copies is $10. These are not legal documents and have the words “not for legal purposes” stamped across them.

When ordering Maine death records by mail, pay for ordered copies with a check or money order. Make this out to the Treasurer, State of Maine.

The municipal clerks’ offices also charge the same fees for certified copies of Maine death certificates. When ordering from one of these, call their office to ask about their preferred method of payment.

The fee structure for online requests for certified copies of Maine death certificates is the same. However, requesters have to pay the approved third-party processor with their credit cards. There is an option to request expedited processing when ordering for Maine death records online. This costs an additional fee. Requested records are usually delivered by regular mail. To enjoy faster shipping, requesters can also pay extra for UPS delivery.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in Maine?

The DVRS takes 2 - 3 weeks to process each request for a Maine death certificate. This is not inclusive of the time taken to receive a mail request and the time taken to deliver copies of requested death records. Requesters can expect delivery to take a week after processing is complete. Deliveries to addresses outside Maine may take longer. For expedited shipping, you may choose to have the record requested delivered by UPS. Such deliveries take 1 - 2 days.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

How those surviving the deceased can keep the decedent’s records depends on the type of record. Financial records should be maintained for at least 5 years. This will allow for any outstanding audit of the deceased’s finances. Lien and property records should pass to those inherited the estate of the deceased. These may come in handy when settling estate matters in court. The deceased’s personal records may be kept for sentimental reasons for as long as needed.

How to Expunge Death Records in Maine

Expungement refers to the permanent deletion of a record. Criminal records are the most commonly expunged records. Maine does not allow the expungement of vital records, including death records.

How to Seal Death Records in Maine

Maine seals death records by default for the first 25 years (50 years for fetal death records). Relatives and authorized representatives of the deceased do not have to take any steps to seal a death record during this period. After this period, there is no provision for sealing death records that have been released into the public domain.

How to Unseal Death Records in Maine

Maine automatically unseals death records after 25 years (after 50 years for fetal records). While rarely granted, it may be possible for someone not ordinarily deemed eligible to access a Maine death record during this period. The third party will require a court order granted after demonstrating the need for this record over the rule to make all vital records in the state confidential.