Death Registration Information for Coroners, Medical Examiners, Physicians and Designated Staff Assistants

Importance of Death Registration

Physicians fulfill an important final step in completing a patient’s care by providing cause of death for the death certificate. Families use these permanent legal records to settle the affairs of their loved one and to obtain insurance, veterans’ and retirement benefits. The death certificate cause of death information is also the source for state and national mortality statistics and is used to determine which medical conditions receive research and development funding, to set public health goals, and to measure health status at local, state, national, and international levels.


A properly completed cause-of-death section provides an etiologic explanation of the order, type, and association of events resulting in death. Data derived from death certificates is no more accurate than the information provided on the certificate; persons concerned with the registration of deaths must strive for complete registration and accuracy and promptness in reporting these events.


National Vital Statistics System

In the United States, the legal authority to register deaths lies within 57 jurisdictions (50 states, 2 cities and 5 territories). Death record information from the 57 jurisdictions is shared with the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is used to compile national mortality statistics which inform a variety of medical and health-related research efforts. Local and state public health agencies use information from the death record to assess community health status and for disease surveillance (e.g., drug overdose deaths, influenza and other infectious diseases).


Minnesota Vital Records Program

In Minnesota, the State Registrar maintains the statewide vital records program and the Minnesota Registration & Certification System (MR&C). MR&C is used to electronically register deaths, fetal death reports and births that occur in the state and issue certified copies of death and birth certificates to eligible requesters.


What's New?

MR&C notification emails to help manage death records


The Office of Vital Records (OVR) updated the subject lines of email notifications that go to medical certifiers when fact of death is filed. The subject lines now display the action required, the name of the decedent, the date of death and the date of birth. For example:

  • Provide Cause of Death for {Decedent’s Name}, DOD {xx/xx/xxxx}, DOB {xx/xx/xxxx}
  • Provide Cause of Death – cremation pending for {Decedent’s Name}, DOD {xx/xx/xxxx}, DOB {xx/xx/xxxx}


OVR rewrote the contents of email notifications to more clearly explain the reason for the email.


A physician who hasn’t cared for the decedent and will not be providing cause of death can now click ‘Reply all’ in the Pending Cause of Death emails to inform the funeral establishment of this fact and give the name of the physician who will provide cause of death.


Medical certifiers will receive email notifications when the medical examiner has:

  • Approved the cause of death on a referred death record
  • Assumed a referred death record


The new medical certifier will receive an email notification when the medical examiner assigns the death record to a different medical certifier.


MR&C will send the funeral establishment an email when cause of death is still pending three days after fact of death was filed (unless record has been referred or assigned to a medical examiner). Funeral establishment personnel will contact the physician to urge completion of the death record.




Minnesota Statutes, sections 144.211-144.227 and Minnesota Rules, chapter 4601.