Death Certificate

Understanding Death Certificates

A death certificate is issued by the New Zealand Government, specifically the Births, Deaths and Marriages department. It contains information like the time and location of death, cause of death and personal information about the person who has died.

Why do you need a death certificate?

Having a death certificate is important for legal reasons, especially if you are administering the estate of someone who has died. It is also needed to change records and account information after someone has died. For example, most banks, utility (power, phone etc.) companies and other insurance companies require to see a death certificate before accounts can be handed over to another person.

A death certificate will be required if you are:

  • Administering someone’s estate
  • Applying for a funeral grant from Work and Income or ACC
  • Accessing pension benefits
  • Needing to access bank accounts of someone who has died
  • Claiming life insurance
  • Getting remarried.

Why is a death certificate important?

A death certificate informs our New Zealand population statistics and data on life expectancy and causes of death. It is also a really important record of your family’s history.

How to apply for a death certificate

If you have hired a funeral director, they will usually organise this for you if you wish. If someone else is doing this for you, we recommend you review the application form to check all the details are correct as it can be distressing to receive a certificate where the names or dates are incorrect. You can also register the death yourself. Either way, you will need the following details:

  • Date, location of death, cause of death, name of the medical professional and medical details (this information will already be available to you within the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death)
  • Date and place of burial or cremation
  • First and surname name at birth
  • First and surname name at death
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Date and place of birth
  • How long the deceased has lived in New Zealand (if they were not born in New Zealand)
  • Home address
  • Usual occupation/profession/job
  • Age of any children
  • First and surname of their mother and father
  • If your loved one was married/widowed/divorced, which includes all previous relationships and details including:
    • Type of relationship e.g. marriage/civil union/de facto relationship
    • Age of your loved one at the date of marriage/civil union
    • Place of marriage/civil union
    • First and surname of spouse/partner
    • Age of surviving spouse/partner at the time of your loved one’s death.

The cost of a death certificate

The cost for an official death certificate is $33 for an official and if you’re getting it delivered by courier, it will cost an extra $5. Standard delivery within New Zealand or overseas is free but there will be additional fees (up to $30) to courier a certificate to an overseas address. Most certificates will arrive within 1-2 weeks of being ordered.

You can order a death certificate online, by phone (you can pay by credit or debit card) or print it out and post it to:

Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 10526
Wellington 6143
New Zealand

You can also order death certificates in person in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch. You’ll need to take photo ID with you.

If the death of your loved one is still being investigated by the coroner, the Births, Deaths and Marriages department will issue an interim death certificate until the coroner has completed their findings.

Record your end-of-life wishes

In our Go With Grace Plan, we have a special section to capture key information to make it easier for your loved ones to apply for your Death Certificate.

We encourage you to keep certain documents, such as birth and marriage certificates together in a safe place, and to let the executors of your will or your next of kin know where they are when you die.

The registration of death must be completed within three days after your loved one’s burial or cremation.