A death certificate is an official document that declares the date, location and cause of a person’s death. While different countries have different procedures regarding how a death certificate is produced and reviewed, the document is typically used for purposes such as arranging a burial or cremation, contesting a person’s will, and claiming the life insurance of a family member or spouse. Based on the medical examiner’s report, a person’s death certificate can also be used to determine whether he or she had an accidental death or was murdered. It is therefore recommended that death certificates are translated only by certified translators.
In general, the cause of death in death certificates can be “accidental”, “homicide”, “suicide”, or declared in “absentia” (such as missing persons and victims of mass disasters). All other deaths are only referred to as “natural”. However, in almost every country there are special provisions whereby death certificates can be obtained by immediate family members, law enforcement agencies, and government authorities (such as occupational health and safety groups). On these occasions, specific causes of death are listed in the certificates. In either case, death certificates should be translated clearly, precisely and free or error.