A death certificate is a legal record of civil status. It is an authenticated document, signed by the person declaring the birth and by the civil registrar. A death certificate is drawn up when a person dies. An unabridged (full) or abridged copy of a death certificate is a full or partial reproduction of the information recorded in the death certificate.
The office of the civil registrar issues the death certificate on the basis of the formal declaration of death made by the physician. The civil registrar drafts the death certificate based on a declaration, if possible, by one or more of the deceased person’s close relatives or neighbours or, when the person did not die at home, by the person in whose home the death occurred.
A full or abridged copy of this certificate is often required for certain administrative procedures, such as applying for a survivor’s pension, the execution of a will or the organisation of burial services.
The death certificate includes all the mandatory information for a civil status certificate (year, date and time of issue; given name(s) and surname of the civil registrar; given name(s), surnames and domiciles of all named persons), together with the following:
- the surname(s) and given name(s), date and place of birth, gender and domicile of the deceased;
- if the deceased was married, widowed or divorced, the spouse’s surname, given name(s) and gender;
- the date, time and place of death;
- the given name(s), age and domicile of the person declaring the death and, if that person is a relative, the degree of relationship between them and the deceased.
The certificate also includes, to the extent that they are known, the given names, surnames and domicile of the deceased’s parents. The death is also recorded as a marginal entry in the deceased’s birth certificate.
When a child dies before its birth was declared to the civil registrar, the latter draws up both a birth certificate and a death certificate upon presentation of a medical certificate specifying the dates and times of birth and death.
If the child was stillborn, the civil registrar draws up a stillbirth certificate. This document is recorded on its date in the registry of deaths, and specifies the date, time and place of birth, the child’s gender, the child’s surname and given name(s) if the parents wish them to be mentioned, the given name(s), surnames and domicile of the parents, as well as their places and dates of birth, to the extent that they are known.
How to apply for a certificate
As a person’s death must be declared to the communal administration of the place where the death occurred, only the commune in question is able to issue a copy of the death certificate.
To obtain a a full or abridged copy of this certificate—specifying the surname(s) and given name(s) of the deceased and the date of death—the interested party may file their application, depending on the options offered by the commune:
- in person: with the civil registrar’s office, upon presentation of a valid ID card;
- electronically: by submitting an application online. The full or abridged copy of the death certificate will be sent by post to the address specified in the application;
- by post: the full or abridged copy of the death certificate will be sent by post to the address specified in the application;
- by phone (during the communal administration’s opening hours): the certificate will be sent by post.
Document(s) to be provided
To obtain the death certificate drawn up by the civil registrar, the interested party must produce the deceased’s family record book or, in its absence, the deceased’s marriage certificate, or the deceased’s birth certificate if the deceased was single.
An administrative fee is charged to issue the certificate (payable to the communal administration).
Request the certificate
Consult the list of communes to find out if your commune offers an online service.