How to Find Virginia Death RecordsEdit This Page

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How to Find United States Deaths Gotoarrow.png Virginia Deaths

Statewide registration of deaths began in 1912 in Virginia.

Next Step: When did the death occur?

Choose a time period to search for your ancestor's death record:

Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1853

Before 1853, no deaths were recorded by the county or state. You must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.

  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Newspapers
Probate (wills, etc)
Tax Records
Church Records
Census
Bible Records
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1853 thru 1912

In 1853, Virginia law required counties to record deaths, although records are incomplete. No deaths were recorded between 1896 and 1912.

If you cannot locate your ancestor in the databases below try searching for death information in other records.

For deaths that exist during the time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

Virginia Deaths Databases - Includes Index Only
Try 1st:
1853-1896 - At Library of Virginia Free; dates vary by county; list of county coverage (scroll down)
Try 2nd:
1853-1912 - At FamilySearch.org Free; dates vary by county; list of county coverage
Next try:
Includes Index Only

Choose one of the following:

1853-1973 - use at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center

1853-1973 - use your Ancestry subscription $, To obtain a subscription to Ancestry; Ancestry is often available through your local public library for free
Can't search the index listed above? Try searching other records for death information.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information
Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths from 1917 thru 1970

The state of West Virginia began recording deaths in January 1917.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information

For deaths that exist during this time period, try the following databases. Try each link.

West Virginia Deaths Databases - Includes Index and Digital Images
Try 1st:
1853-1970 - At West Virginia Division of Culture and History Free; dates vary by county and some only go to 1962; list of county coverage (right side of the screen)
Try 2nd:
1853-1970 - At FamilySearch.org Free; dates vary by county and some only go to 1962; list of county coverage (right side of the screen); click on "view partner website" to see a copy of the image
Next try:
Includes Index Only

Choose one of the following:

1853-1973 - use at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center

1853-1973 - use your Ancestry subscription $, To obtain a subscription to Ancestry; Ancestry is often available through your local public library for free
Can't search the index listed above? Go to Step Two listed below and order a search for your ancestor from the West Virginia Department of Health State Office.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate

If the image was not included in the index entry above, you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Death Certificates
From County of Death From WV Dept. of Health State office
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Offers a search of the state index for an additional fee May be more expensive than ordering from the county

If you do not know the exact date or place of death:
For a fee, the West Virginia Department of Health office will do a 3 year search (click on the death certificates tab).

Restrictions for persons who died within the last 50 years:
To obtain a copy of the death certificate for those who died within the last 50 years, you must be:

  • The parents and grandparents of person on the certificate
  • The wife or husband of the person on the certificate
  • The children and grandchildren of the person on the certificate
  • The brothers or sisters of the person on the certificate
  • Funeral director
  • Anyone who has legal interest in the certificate
NOTE: A copy of the death record cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above until 50 years have passed from the date of the death.

If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another death year


Deaths after 1970

With an exact date (from your records or the index above), you can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Death Certificates
From County of Death From WV Dept. of Health State office
Pros Cons Pros Cons
May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state County websites can be more difficult to use Offers a search of the state index for an additional fee May be more expensive than ordering from the county

If you do not know the exact date or place of death:
For a fee, the West Virginia Department of Health office will do a 3 year search (click on the death certificates tab).

Restrictions for persons born who died within the last 50 years:
To obtain a copy of the death certificate for those who died within the last 50 years, you must be:

  • The parents and grandparents of person on the certificate
  • The wife or husband of the person on the certificate
  • The children and grandchildren of the person on the certificate
  • The brothers or sisters of the person on the certificate
  • Funeral director
  • Anyone who has legal interest in the certificate
NOTE: A copy of the death record cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above until 50 years have passed from the date of the death.

If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another death year


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