How to Find South Dakota Death Records

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United States Gotoarrow.png US Vital Records Gotoarrow.png How to Find United States Deaths Gotoarrow.png South Dakota Gotoarrow.png Vital Records Gotoarrow.png South Dakota Deaths

Statewide recording of deaths in South Dakota began in 1905.

Next Step: When did the death occur?

Death Records
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Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1905

Before 1905, no deaths were recorded by the state. In some instances however, county officers have records filed prior to 1905. These exceptions are listed on each county page.

Death Records on Microfilm

A few earlier death records for Native American tribes exist as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs records. Some of these records have been microfilmed and are available through FamilySearch Centers and Libraries. See South Dakota American Indian Death Records. Find your local FamilySearch Center.

If you know the approximate date and county where the death took place, use theFamilySearch Catalog to see what is available.

  • Search the FamilySearch Catalog by county.
  • Select the topic Vital Records.
  • Some records may have been compiled and published.
  • For a small fee, order the microfilm to view at a local Family Search Center.

If the death was not found in the county or microfilm records, you must search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.

  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Probate (wills, etc)
Tax Records
Church Records
Bible Records
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Deaths from 1905 to the present

Statewide registration of deaths began in South Dakota in 1905. The State and County offices have death records that were filed after 1905. It is standard for each county to have a copy of death records for deaths that occurred in their county while the Department of Health has the original records of all events that occurred in the State after 1905. See Restrictions for Obtaining South Dakota Death Records

STEP ONE: Find Death Information

Counties are allowed to make available an index of death certificates to conduct genealogical research provided that you are a member of the South Dakota Genealogical Society. Please contact Anna Duncan at

OR try

Can't find your ancestor in the online index?

Tips for searching online indexes
No death record for your ancestor? Other records with death information

STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate

You can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the South Dakota Department of Health.

  • A PHOTOSTATIC copy is a photocopy of the original record. It is intended for genealogy use and generally provides the most information.
  • Copies can be requested either CERTIFIED or INFORMATIONAL. If you are not using the certificate for legal or DAR purposes, you will want to request an INFORMATIONAL PHOTOSTATIC.

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

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Bureau of Indian Affairs Death Records

Film copies of the records below may be ordered to a FamilySearch Center near you.

FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center

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Restrictions for Obtaining Death Records

Restrictions for obtaining a certificate 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 parent or grandparent of the person on the certificate
  • The spouse of the person on the certificate
  • The child or grandchild of the person on the certificate
  • The sibling of the person on the certificate
  • Authorized Agent - attorney, physician, funeral director
  • Designated Agent - someone given authority by an individual who has authority to obtain the vital record to act on their behalf. Must complete the designated agent section of the application.
  • Personal or Property Right - a right to the record not included in the categories above. Individual will be asked to provide information about the right.
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, you can search other records with death information.

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