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How to Find South Dakota Death Records

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Statewide recording of deaths in South Dakota began in 1905.

Next Step: When did the death occur? [edit | edit source]

Death Records
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Learn more about U.S. Death Records

Deaths before 1905[edit | edit source]

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.

Native American 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.
  • Some microfilms may be available to view at a local Family Search Center.

For more information see Bureau of Indian Affairs Death Records below

Substitute Death Records 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.[edit | edit source]
  Records that give death information:
Cemetery Records
Newspapers
Probate (wills, etc)
Tax Records
Church Records
Census
Bible Records
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Deaths from 1905 to the present[edit | edit source]

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.

STEP ONE: Find Death Information[edit | edit source]

There are several resources that can be used to find when someone died in South Dakota. This includes the state's death index, social security death indexes, cemetery, newspapers, and family bible records.

Accessing the Department of Health's state death index can be done through Ancestry.com. To view county death indexes you need to be a member of the South Dakota Genealogical Society. Only members of the society are allowed to get county death indexes because of state law. County indexes can be especially helpful if you are looking for someone with a common name. You can join with a minimal fee starting at $5.00 USD. To become a member visit their website or contact Anna Duncan at duncana@iw.net.

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 Death Certificate[edit | edit source]

You can order a copy of the death record for a fee from the South Dakota Department of Health. Death certificates can include invaluable information such as the names of parents for an individual, where someone was buried, and cause of death.

For genealogy purposes it is asked that the order be placed through the mail. You will need to send in a completed and signed application, a copy of photo ID, and a check or money order of $15.00 USD.

What to include on the application:[edit | edit source]
  • Name of the individual exactly as it appears on the index
  • Death certificate number (found on index)
  • Request a PHOTOSTATIC copy, which is a photocopy of the original record.
  • 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.

Link to South Dakota Department of Health official website

Note: Those who can order a CERTIFIED copy is very limited, see Restrictions for Obtaining South Dakota Death Records

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[edit | edit source]

Film copies of the records below may be available at a FamilySearch Center near you.

FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Find your local FamilySearch Center

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Restrictions for Obtaining Death Records[edit | edit source]

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
  • Registrant - Individual listed on the record
  • 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.
Restrictions for obtaining a CERTIFIED copy of a certificate:
  • Registrant - Individual listed on the record
  • Spouse, Child
  • Parent, Guardian
  • Next of Kin - grandparents and siblings
  • Authorized Agent - attorney, physician, funeral director (documentation may be required)
  • 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: These restrictions DO NOT apply to an INFORMATIONAL copy

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Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]