12 December 2011

Pennsylvania Opens Death Certificates to the Public

UPDATE: As of 15 December 2011 Governor Tom Corbett has signed SB 361. It is now known as PA Act 110 of 2011. This puts the effective date at 13 February 2012. (60 days to take effect)
See the government website for further information on this law.

On December 6th, 2011 the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate Bill 361 which previously passed unanimously in the Senate. This bill will make all Pennsylvania Death Certificates from 1906 when they began filing until 1961 public record. The law requires the certificates to have been on file for 50 years before becoming public.

Prior to this law, death certificates never became public. With this new law these older certificates may be put online and used for genealogical research.

The law will be official on or before 16th February 2012. The bill has a 60 day period before it comes into effect, plus the 10 day period in which the governor may review it which ends this Sunday on the 18th. The governor will approve the bill by that date or it will become law by default. Because of the unanimous vote, there is no reason to fear a veto.

Stay posted for updates regarding when these records go online. It is expected to happen quickly on Ancestry.com. Three years from now the state archive website will also provide access.

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