There are two documents commonly referred to as a death certificate in Ontario; however, they have two different uses. One is called a Medical Certificate of Death. The second is called a Proof of Death Certificate. The latter has three variations.
Here are the differences between these vital documents and what they are used for after a person dies.
What is a Medical Certificate of Death?
In Canada, a Medical Certificate of Death is a medical document issued by a coroner when a person dies. In some cases, it is issued by an attending physician, especially in the case of a death at home.
It records the circumstances of the death of a person. It includes the person's full name as well as the date and location of their death.
When a licensed funeral director from a funeral services company like Eirene arranges to pick up the body of a deceased person, they obtain the Medical Certificate of Death from the signing medical official. The document is required before a person's remains can be cremated or buried.
A funeral director then submits the Medical Certificate of Death to a local municipal clerk's office along with a Statement of Death. The latter is a form that the funeral director and an informant (usually a family member) completes. It can take up to 12 weeks for a death to be registered in Ontario.
These two documents are submitted in the jurisdiction where the death occurred to formally register the death.
The government also uses the Medical Certificate of Death for statistical record keeping. Public health units operated by the various levels of government also use them to look for health patterns in a given population. If the mortality rate in a geographical area rises and a specific illness appears to be the cause, the data may show that further research could be necessary to address and mitigate an emerging public health issue.
What is a Proof of Death Certificate?
Proof of death
The funeral director will issue copies of proof of death that you can use in certain situations. This version of a death certificate can be used to settle an estate, to apply for some insurance benefits. It can also be used to close out a health card, cancel a driver’s license or pension benefit, or remove someone from a voter’s list.
Official death certificate types from the Province of Ontario
There are three variations of death certificate documents in Ontario.
This document contains the deceased person’s name, date and place of death. Anyone can request this publicly available document.
Certified copy of death registration
A certified copy of death registration, also known as the Statement of Death, contains all registered information about a death that occurred in Ontario, including any official signatures. It may be required for estate settlement or insurance benefit purposes. Only next of kin or an executor of a will can apply for this document. Next of kin are parents, spouse or common-law partner, children and siblings. If all of next of kin are deceased, extended next of kin can apply. They include aunt, uncle, first cousin, grandchild, grandparent, or nephew or niece.
Certified Copy of Death Registration with cause of death information
This official document is a certified copy of death registration with cause of death information. You also receive a copy of the Medical Certificate of Death. It is required by some insurance companies to access benefits or is required in some jurisdictions outside Canada. In you are settling an estate that contains foreign property, you will often be asked for this document. Note that it is also only available to next of kin or an executor of a will.
How to request a Death Certificate in Ontario
In Ontario, a proof of death certificate can be obtained from ServiceOntario. It contains the details of a death that took place in Ontario. You can order a copy or multiple copies online if the death was registered in Ontario. For certified documents, you must apply in person, by mail or by fax.