What are Death Records in New Mexico?
A New Mexico death record refers to a legal document containing a compilation of vital information pertaining to a person’s death, such as the place of death and cause of death. A death record also contains the deceased’s identifying and personal information. New Mexico death records only document information on deaths that occurred within the state. Some of the information a New Mexico death record contains are:
- Deceased’s first, middle, and last name
- Deceased’s personal and statistical particulars, including sex, color or race, etc.
- Date and time of death
- Age at last birthday
- Place of death
- Parental and marital details
- Social Security Number
- Date and place of birth
- Usual residence before death
- Usual occupation, including kind of business or industry
- Medical certification of death
- Informant’s name, and relationship to the decedent
- Place of burial, cremation, or removal
- Date of burial
Like other New Mexico vital records, death records are useful documents required when processing motor vehicle transfers, pension claims, stocks, bonds, and life insurance benefits, or transferring real and personal property titles and closing bank accounts. The government also finds death records useful for setting public health goals, assessing health status at local, state, national, and international levels, as source for state and national mortality statistics, and for updating electoral registers, paid government benefits, passport records, etc.
How are Death Records Created in New Mexico?
New Mexico Statutes § 24-14-20 outlines the death registration process in New Mexico. Pursuant to this, deaths that occur in the state must be registered with the state registrar within five days after the death and prior to final disposition. This registration involves the creation of the death certificate for each death that occurs in New Mexico. However, if the death place is unknown but the deceased’s body is found in this state, a death certificate must be filed with a local registrar within ten days after the event. In this case, the place where the body is found will be reported as the place of death and if the date of death is not known, it shall be estimated by the state medical investigator.
The funeral service practitioner or anyone acting as a funeral service practitioner who first takes custody of the deceased’s body is responsible for coordinating the death registration process.
The following steps are required to create a Kansas death record:
- Obtaining the deceased person’s personal information
The funeral service practitioner or anyone acting as a funeral service practitioner who first takes custody of the deceased’s body shall get the deceased’s personal details from their next of kin or the most qualified person or source available. With the personal details of the deceased, the funeral service practitioner shall complete the applicable part of the death certificate.
- Medical certification of cause of death
This involves the funeral service practitioner meeting the physician or nurse practitioner that handled the patient's care for the sickness or condition that resulted in death, except if the law requires inquiry. The attending physician or nurse then completes and signs the medical certification of the cause of death on the deceased patient’s death certificate within 48 hours of the death.
Note that if the attending physician or nurse is not available to complete and sign the medical certification, this responsibility may be taken up by:
- The associate of the attending physician or nurse;
- The chief medical officer of the institution where the death occurred; or
- The physician who conducted an autopsy on the deceased, only if the individual has access to the deceased’s medical history and examines the deceased at or after death and the death is due to natural causes
If death occurs without medical attendance or more than ten days after the deceased was last treated by a physician, the case shall be passed on to the state medical investigator for investigation to ascertain and certify the cause of death.
- Filing of the completed certificate
After all sections of the deceased’s death certificate have been fully completed accurately with all required information, the funeral service practitioner files it with the local registrar of vital records in the county where the death occurred. Here, the completed document will be certified and issued as the final evidence of the death.
Note that New Mexico has an electronic death registration system, but a person filing a death certificate can still use a blank paper death certificate, which can be gotten from the Vital Records Unit of the New Mexico Department of Health.
Are Death Certificates Public in New Mexico?
Death certificates for New Mexico are records with restricted access. According to state law, only individuals who can provide verifiable proof of a legitimate legal interest in the requested document, such as the deceased decedent's immediate relatives, are permitted access to death certificates. New Mexico Death certificates become public records fifty (50) years after the date of death.
How to Find Death Records Online in New Mexico?
The Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics of the New Mexico Department of Health does not have an online database where individuals can look up New Mexico death records. Hence, the state does not provide online access to death records.
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 Search by Name in New Mexico
Many online third-party websites in New Mexico allow users to look up death records using the first name or last name of the deceased person, but the majority of these services charge a fee.
Death Record Search by Address
In New Mexico, there aren't many ways to look up death records using an address. However, individuals can use a person's last known address to submit a request for death records at the New Mexico Vital Records Office.
How to Find Death Records for Free in New Mexico?
The New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records only grant's death record requests when the requesting party has paid the necessary fees and fulfilled the requirements for obtaining death records. There are no provisions for free death records or fee waivers in New Mexico. However, interested persons may search death record information for free through church records, cemetery books, newspapers, and other related materials.
Where Can I Get Death Records in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics of the New Mexico Department of Health maintains records of deaths that occurred in the state. Requesting parties can get death records by querying the Bureau of Vital Records through any of these two options:
- Mail-in request
- In-person request
A Death Record Search Application Form (Spanish Version) is available to requesting parties on the website of the Bureau of Vital Records. However, a requesting party can alternately write a letter to the Bureau of Vital Records, instead of filling out the form. The letter must contain the following information:
- Deceased’s full name
- City of death, include county if known
- Date of death
- The deceased’s Social Security Number, if known
- The name of the mortuary that handled final arrangements
- Requesting party’s relationship to the person on the death certificate
- The purpose for which the death certificate is being requested
- Requesting party’s name and signature
- Requesting party’s mailing address
If the Death Record Search Application Form (Spanish Version) will be used to process the request, download and complete it accurately. On the other hand, you may write a letter to the Bureau of Vital Records with all the required information that will facilitate the search. Together with the completed form or letter, mail the photocopy of your current government-issued photo ID, and required fees to:
New Mexico Vital Records P.O. Box 25767 Albuquerque, NM 87125
Ensure to send sufficient and accurate information and the right payment amount, as failure to do this may cause an application to be declined.
Download and complete the Death Record Search Application Form (Spanish Version). The completed form must be presented alongside a current government-issued photo ID and the search fee. Note that Public Health Offices do not issue death certificates. Requesting parties can only obtain death certificates through the Santa Fe office at:
Santa Fe Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics 2554 Camino Entrada Santa Fe, NM 87505
The office is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday. For inquiries, you can call the Vital Records Call Center from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (866) 534-0051 (Toll Free) or (505) 827-0121.
Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics Office encourages customers to request records business through mail-in services.
Some examples of acceptable government-issued IDs to be provided during requests in New Mexico include:
- Government-issued Driver’s License
- Government-issued Mexican Matricula
- Government-issued Passport or Visa
- Government-issued Identification Card
- Government-issued Military ID
Requesting parties may present any two of the secondary documents listed below, in replacement of government-issued ID. These include:
- Social Security Card with Signature
- Voter’s Registration Card
- Medical Records
- Tribal ID
- Tax Form
Other acceptable government-issued IDs and secondary documents are listed on the New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records & Health Statistics website.
Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in New Mexico?
No. Access to New Mexico death certificates is restricted to only the deceased’s immediate family members or individuals who present tangible proof of legal interest in requested death records. However, death certificates become public records 50 years after the date of death. Immediate family members that can obtain restricted copies of death records include the deceased’s mother, father, child, current spouse, sibling, grandchild, or maternal or paternal grandparent. A paternal grandparent is only eligible if the deceased’s father is listed on the death record.
How Much Does a Death Certificate Cost in New Mexico?
A death certificate costs a non-refundable $5 per certified copy, which also includes the search fee if the record is on file. Payment for mail-in services may be made by a certified check or money order payable to “New Mexico Vital Records”. Cash will not be accepted for mail services.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Death Certificate in New Mexico?
The processing time for a death certificate in New Mexico is not fixed, it varies from 6 to 12 weeks. However, it is subject to change, depending on the volume of incoming applications.
How Long to Keep Records After Death
New Mexico does not dictate how long death records should be kept but it is advisable that a deceased’s death records and other vital records, including birth records should be kept permanently after death. Typically, death records are considered official proof of death and may be required at any time for legal purposes.
How to Expunge Your Death Records in New Mexico?
Expungement is a court-ordered process involving the permanent deletion of a record from public access. New Mexico Statutes do not provide for the expungement of death records in the state.
How to Seal Your Death Records in New Mexico?
New Mexico Statutes do not provide for the sealing of death records in the state.
How to Unseal Your Death Records in New Mexico?
New Mexico Statutes do not provide for the unsealing of death records in the state.
How to Find an Obituary for a Specific Person in New Mexico
A good place to find an obituary for a specific person in New Mexico is to search libraries of major universities in the state. Their libraries frequently invest a significant amount of time and money into turning paper or microfilm records into online-accessible picture files. One of these programs, with searchable offerings of papers from throughout New Mexico, is provided by the University of New Mexico. An index of obituaries that have appeared in the Albuquerque Journal is also available at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library.
What are New Mexico Death Notices?
A death notice, which is often printed in a newspaper, is a public statement of someone's passing. Death notices in New Mexico are normally printed in the county newspaper of the area where the deceased resided. A death notice normally includes the decedent's full name, date of death, place of passing, and occasionally whether or not services are being held.
What is the Difference Between Death Notices and Obituaries?
A death notice's sole aim is to provide a notification or public service announcement regarding the deceased. The notice's contents are described in very general terms. By informing the community, there is a greater chance that people will attend the burial and memorial events and that they will contribute to fundraising efforts. An obituary is a more intimate homage to the deceased and is written in their honor. Obituaries feature a personal touch and are typically referred to as a brief biography, in contrast to a death notice, which just contains general information such as the name and date of death. It is longer and details the achievements of the departed.