Virginia Death Records and Death Index

It may surprise you to learn how often genealogists face this particular set of circumstances. They are aware of when their ancestor was born, when they may have married, when their children were born but they just can’t find out when they died.

There are a fair few instances where the only information missing is the death date which can be very frustrating. This is why knowing what death records may be available to you can be vital in your research.

It is important to note that one of the biggest issues in finding a death record can be looking in the wrong place. You may be surprised how often people miss records because they are looking in the wrong county and sometimes even the wrong state.

In this post we will be looking at Virginia state death records and indexes to try and help you find those elusive ancestors. So if you are confident that your ancestor likely died in the state of Virginia then read on and hopefully we can help you out.

About Virginia

Virginia was one of the 13 original colonies of America and the first to have a British settlement with the creation of Jamestown in 1607. It has been home to no fewer than eight presidents throughout history including Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe.

The 10th state to ratify the constitution Virginia became a state on June 25th 1788. Years later during the Civil War Richmond, Virginia would become the capital for the Confederacy. It is also home to the second oldest institution of higher education William and Mary College. It is beaten only by Harvard.

Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

All American citizens, naturalized immigrants and resident aliens require a Social Security number for proof of identification and authorization to work. This number follows us throughout our life and when we die this nine digit code is very important.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of death records that was compiled from the United States Social Security Administration Death Master File. This was until 2014 when the rules changed and public access to the Death Master File had to take place through a certification program.

Those researching the deaths of ancestors in this state will likely find that most people who have died between 1936 and 2014 can be found on the Social Security Death Index. This does however only hold true if the person had a Social Security number when they died.

It is estimated that since 1973 the SSDI recorded 93% to 96% of the deaths of individuals aged 65 or over. The index was updated frequently and by June of 2011 there were 89,835,920 records available.

The index can be found on websites such as FamilySearch and and offers details such as:

  • Given name and surname (middle initial since the 1990s)
  • Date of birth
  • Month and year of death (Full date of death for accounts active after 2000)
  • Social Security number
  • State or territory Social Security number was issued
  • Last place of residence when alive including ZIP code

Click here to search Social Security Death Index 1935 – 2014

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

This is more or less an extension of the information you can find from the Social Security Death Index. It has been extracted from the SSDI records but features more details. It does not include all of the names found in the SSDI however but there are at least 49 million names included.

In this record you may find additional information such as:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names who, if deceased, would have been over 75 when you are viewing the records (may be redacted if under 75)
  • Citizenship status
  • Gender
  • Sometimes race or ethnic group

Click here to search U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

Assorted Virginia Cemeteries

The Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Indiana may not be a local resource to Virginia but it has managed to develop a database of links to burial records for all of the other states as well as their own. This is a great source of information for anyone looking to research death records in Virginia or in fact any other state.

Click here to search Assorted Virginia Cemeteries

Virginia Death Certificates, 1912-1993 and Death Records Index, 1912-2014

This collection from the paid membership site is made up of two sets of data. The first is a set of extracted records for Virginia deaths between 1988 – 2014. In the more extensive second collection you will find digital images of death records from 1912 – 1991.

The digital images fall outside the 25 year privacy law regarding Virginia death records so they are available to view. This is why they ceased in 1991. In this collection you can find out some basic biographical details about the deceased and information on when they died.

Click here to search Virginia Death Certificates, 1912-1993 and Death Records Index, 1912-2014

Virginia Death Certificates, June 1912-1987

This collection of almost 2 million records was gathered from the Virginia State Department of Health and displayed on the FamilySearch website. It includes images of death certificates from the early years of state vital record keeping until the late 1980s.

You may be able to discover additional information such as the names of the deceased parents and where they were born as well as other family details. FamilySearch is completely free to use as long as you have a registered account at the website.

Click here to search Virginia Death Certificates, June 1912-1987

Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County

When looking for death records that pre-date state mandated vital record keeping you often have to look at the county level. This is because prior to the early 1900s county clerks would record births, deaths and marriages in specific registers.

It is important then to see what information is available at the county level especially if you can determine that your ancestors likely died in that county. Early deaths won't have death certificates so the information you will find will be part of death indexes, burial records and obituaries.

County Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemeteries by County
  • See Winchester County
Fredericksburg City
  • See Prince William County
New Kent
  • See Portsmouth City
Petersburg City
Portsmouth City
Prince William
Richmond City
Williamsburg City
Winchester City
  • Wythe County Cemeteries from the Kegley Library


Virginia has a long history as it is one of the original 13 colonies so there is a great deal of recorded history which can be interesting to genealogists in the state. Within certain years you can find digital free copies of death certificates as well as other records that can answer questions about your ancestors.

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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