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How to Find a Death Record in Colorado?

What Are Death Records in Colorado?

A Colorado death record is an official document that details the deceased's personal data and relevant information about a death, including the events that surround the death. Death records are maintained by the state vital records office alongside other Colorado Vital Records and a Colorado death record typically contains the following information:

  • Full name of the deceased
  • Deceased’s biodata, including sex, color or race, etc.
  • Place of death
  • Date of death
  • Usual residence before death
  • Date of birth
  • Birthplace
  • Parental and marital information
  • Social security number
  • Usual occupation, including kind of business or industry
  • Cause of death
  • Medical certification
  • Informant and undertaker’s address and signature

Colorado death records are required for setting precedence for health-related funding, medical and health-related research efforts, vital health statistics and public health interventions for genealogical research. They are used by government agencies to modify electoral registers, passport records, government benefits paid, etc. Death records are also used to close bank accounts, transfer real and personal property titles, track death trends, gather data for research studies, and process pension claims, motor vehicle transfers, bonds, stocks, and life insurance benefits.

How are Death Records Created in Colorado?

A Colorado death record is created for every death that occurs in the state. When a death occurs in Colorado, a Funeral Director initiates the death registration process with the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), an electronic system that facilitates the process. It is not mandatory that a Funeral Director handles the death record creation process, this role can be taken up by any other person authorized by law such as a direct relative or next of kin of the deceased. In Colorado, a death must be registered and filed with a local registrar or health department, within five calendar days of the death and before the disposition of the deceased’s body. The state registrar uses the electronic death registration system to collect death information from Funeral Directors, coroners, physicians, health facilities, local registrars, and other authorized individuals, as determined by the department.

The three steps involved in creating a Colorado death record include:

  1. Completing the deceased’s personal information
    With the EDRS or on a blank certificate obtained from the local registrar or health department, the Funeral Director or the person taking up this role shall complete the death certificate will all the required personal and statistical information of the deceased.

  2. Completing the cause of death and medical certification
    Within 48 hours of the death, the attending physician, associate physician, chief medical officer of the institution, coroner, or any other person prescribed by Colorado Revised Statutes § 25-2-110(4) shall fill out the medical certification, sign it and return it to the Funeral Director or person taking up the role.

  3. Filing with a local registrar or health department
    After the Funeral Director or the person taking up this role has filled out all the required information on the death certificate, the completed death certificate is then filed with the local registrar or health department in the county where the death took place. Here, it will be recorded, certified, and transferred to the State Registrar.

What is the Difference Between a Death Certificate and Other Death Records?

Colorado death certificates are legal documents that contain details pertaining to the death of the subject of the data. Death certificates are issued by the Colorado department of public health. A death certificate is only accessible by close family members of the deceased (birth parents of the subject of the data, decedent's spouse, children, or sibling).

Colorado death records are considered public records and can be accessed by legible members of the public. Those seeking these records can conduct a death record search on third-party sites.

Are Death Certificates Public in Colorado?

No, Colorado death certificates are not considered public. Only close members of the family of the deceased have access to obtain a death certificate or related vital record information. Death certificates can be used for legal purposes including insurance purposes, access to the decedent's social security number, etc.

How to Find Death Records Online in Colorado?

Colorado death records are not searchable online. The Vital Records Section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment only provides access to death records via mail orders and in-person orders strictly by appointment. Persons who are keen to order online may do so by using third-party alternatives or an independent online vendor.

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. Death record searches can be carried out by conducting a death record search by name or by address.

Death Record Search By Name in Colorado

Those seeking to search for Colorado death records can carry out a death record search by name; providing the full name of the subject of the data that they seek. In addition to the name, other information pertaining to the person's death might help to facilitate the search. Ultimately, the more details a person has, the more streamlined the consequent search results.

Death Record Search by Address

If the requestor does not have the full name of the deceased, they may conduct a death record search by address using the last known location of the deceased or their place of death. However, requests of this sort are better carried out using nation-wide databases like the resources maintained by the National center for Vital Statistics.

How to Find Death Records for Free in Colorado?

Death records maintained by the Vital Records Section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are only available upon the payment of the required fees. There are no provisions for fee waivers and the fees paid are non-refundable.

Where Can I Get Death Records in Colorado?

In Colorado, a death record can be obtained through the Vital Records Section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The Colorado Vital Records Section has had custody of death certificates for the entire state since 1900. Death certificates can also be requested at the County Vital Records office where the death occurred. The office of vital records also provides birth, marriage, and divorce records.

The Vital Records Section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. accepts requests through:

  • Mail Order
  • In-Person Order

Mail Order

Print and complete the Colorado Death Certificate Request or Colorado Death Certificate Request (Spanish) in full with accurate information. Send the completed request with appropriate fees, a copy of proof of relationship, and valid state-issued ID, such as a current driver’s license, permanent resident card, Military ID, or passport to:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Vital Records Section
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246-1530

In-Person Order

The Vital Records Office is set to open for walk-in services on February 9th, 2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any intending visitor must first schedule an appointment in advance. To order a death record in person, bring along a printed and completed Colorado Death Certificate Request or Colorado Death Certificate Request (Spanish), appropriate fees, a copy of proof of relationship, and valid state-issued ID, such as a current driver’s license, permanent resident card, Military ID, or passport to:

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Vital Records Section
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246

The office is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m, Monday - Friday, except holidays. The office can be contacted by email: vital.records@state.co.us or (303) 692-2200.

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

According to Colorado Revised Statutes 25-2-117, Colorado death records are not public records. Hence these records can not be obtained by the general public, only the persons listed below can obtain copies of Colorado death certificates if they meet up with the prescribed requirements:

  • Current spouse - must be named on the death certificate.
  • Ex-spouse - must provide proof of direct and tangible interest (i.e. Social Security record, insurance policy).
  • Parent - must be named on the death certificate.
  • Step-parent - must provide a marriage certificate proving relationship to a parent that is listed on the death certificate.
  • Siblings/Half siblings - must provide birth certificate(s) identifying at least one same parent (Baptismals, hospital records or school records will not be accepted, except if the requester presents a letter from the state of birth declaring that no record of birth was found).
  • Grandparents/Great-grandparents - must provide birth certificate(s) proving relationship (Baptismals, hospital records or school records will not be accepted, except if the requester presents a letter from the state of birth declaring that no record of birth was found).
  • Children/Grandchildren/Great-grandchildren - must provide birth certificate(s) showing relationship (Baptismals, hospital records, or school records will not be accepted, except if the requester presents a letter from the state of birth declaring that no record of birth was found).
  • Step-Children - must provide a marriage certificate and birth certificate proving relationship.
  • Legal representative/Paralegals - must provide proof of client relationship and proof of the client’s relationship to the registrant.
  • In-laws/aunts/uncles/nephews/nieces/cousins for death certificate 25 years or younger - must present proof of direct and tangible interest (i.e. insurance policy, personal will, etc.). For death certificates over 25 years, they must provide proof of relationship (a family tree would be acceptable for this case) Death certificate marked “For Genealogical Use Only.”
  • Genealogists - must provide a notarized signed release from an immediate family member and proof of the family member’s relationship. Certificate marked “For Genealogical Use Only.”
  • Beneficiaries - must provide proof of direct and tangible interest (i.e. letter on insurance company or pension company letterhead that clearly declares that the applicant is a beneficiary or is eligible to file a claim).
  • Funeral Director - must be listed on the death certificate.
  • Hospital/Nursing home/Hospice/Physician - must provide proof of patient relationship.
  • Informant - must be listed on the death certificate.
  • Attorney-in-fact/Agent (Power of Attorney) - must present a Durable Power of Attorney that has been signed by the “principal” (person they are representing) and notarized. Durable Power of Attorney is indefinite unless indicated in the document or upon death. A “Medical Power of Attorney” will not be accepted. Review the Power of Attorney carefully, since some provide a restricted amount of authority to the “attorney-in-fact”/”agent”.
  • Consular Corps/Consulate offices - must present credentials attesting their connection to the Consulate.

The following persons must provide proof of direct and tangible interest

  • Probate Researchers
  • Creditors
  • Employer
  • Insurance companies (Insurance policy).

Other persons who can demonstrate direct and tangible interest, if the death records requested are needed for the determination or protection of a personal or property right can also obtain copies of death certificates.

How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in Colorado?

In Colorado, the following fees may apply when requesting a death certificate:

  • Search fee where date of death is unknown - $1 per year
  • Cost of death certificate - $20 for one, same cost applies for any of these types of certificates:
  • Standard death certificate (entire record)
  • Legal death certificate (all legal and no medical information)
  • Verification of death (limited legal information and no medical information)
  • Cost of additional certificates - $13 each
  • Credit card convenience charge (walk-ins excluded) - $10
  • FedEx - next business afternoon (only check, money order, cash orders) - $20
  • UPS next business afternoon (only credit card orders) - $20

Note that a regular mail order does not attract extra charges.

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

The Colorado Vital Records Office Division of Vital Records mails orders within 30 business days after receipt of a request for regular mail service. However, if FedEx or UPS mail service is used, the order will be mailed the next business afternoon.

How Long to Keep Records After Death

In Colorado, the Revised Statutes do not specify how long a death record should be kept for after death. However, it is recommended that a death record is maintained indefinitely because it is considered a legal proof of death.

How to Expunge Your Death Records in Colorado?

Expungement is defined as the authorized complete deletion of a record that is considered sensitive or authorized to be erased after the person named on the record has qualified for an expungement. Colorado Revised Statutes do not permit the expungement of death records.

How to Seal Your Death Records in Colorado?

Colorado Revised Statutes do not permit the sealing of death records in the state.

How to Unseal Your Death Records in Colorado?

Colorado Revised Statutes do not permit the unsealing of death records in the state.

How to Use the Colorado Death Registry

A death registry is simply an index of deaths or death-related information pertaining to a judicial district. Hence, death registries are maintained by both local county departments and the State Health Department. Those who seek access to a death registry can visit the website of the record custodian or access Colorado death notices from various local newspaper publications. To use a death registry to find death-specific information, the requesting party must provide the name, date of death, county, and last known address of the deceased. Requestors can also visit the state vital statistics or vital record office to make in person queries. If the requestor is unsure of the state where a death record is filed, they may search using the United States Death Registry or the National Death Index.

How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in Colorado

To find the obituary for a specific person in Colorado, individuals seeking this information can send a mail to local newspaper outlets or the Colorado department of health, office of vital records to request the record of the subject of the data. Requestors can also visit the office in person to request records. Please note that appointments have to be scheduled prior to visitation. One can also carry out a Colorado obituary search on third-party sites, providing as many details as possible.

How to Conduct a Free Obituary Search in Colorado

Those seeking to conduct a free obituary lookup may do so by checking the online archives of local publications in the county where the individual passed. This service may also be conducted by third-party sites. However, while some third-party sites offer totally free searches, others offer free obituary searches on a free trial basis for a duration of time, after which subsequent searches will attract a search fee. Details such as the full name of the subject of the data, and county as of the time of death would be required. Note that for searches where adequate information is not provided, the requestor will be required to cover the cost of research.

What are Colorado Death Notices?

Colorado death notices are published notices in local newspapers that are usually briefed by family members of a deceased person to inform the public of their passing. The article usually indicates who the person was survived by as well as details of the services to be held.

What is the Difference Between Death Notices and Obituaries?

The primary difference between death notices and obituaries is that while a notice is usually brief, an obituary is lengthy and detailed.