Death Certificate Limit Tied To Supply Chain

SNOW HILL – Supply chain issues have prompted the state to limit the number of death certificates that can be ordered.

The Worcester County Health Department announced late last week that Maryland’s Division of Vital Records was placing a limit of five death certificates per decedent. The limit comes as the state is experiencing a delay in the shipment of death certificate paper.

“This is a temporary action that is necessary to ensure that we are able to service the funeral homes as well as our customers who place mail, online and phone orders until the next shipment of security paper from the manufacturer,” said Chase Cook, acting director of communications for the Maryland Department of Health.

Citizens were quick to question the new limit when the Worcester County Health Department shared the announcement on social media. Several pointed out family members typically needed more than five death certificates to deal with the estate of someone who’s passed away, as certificates can be required by a variety of agencies as well as banks and life insurance companies.

“Most families do require more than five death certificates,” said Jerome Weldon, apprentice funeral director at the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin. “There are many entities, such as banks, courts, and insurance companies, that will not accept photocopies.”

The fact that the limit was put in place abruptly has also made things difficult.

“We have had several families affected by this sudden limit, especially those who had already completed their arrangements and asked for more than five before we were notified of the change,” Weldon said.

Cook stressed the limit was temporary and said that as of Jan. 30., the paper manufacturer had told state officials that Maryland could expect its next shipment in mid-February.

“Once we have the security paper supply necessary to fulfill orders at the normal rate, we will immediately resume normal operations and remove any order limitations,” Cook said.

He said officials realized the limit could impact families during a difficult time.

“While we understand this can impact grieving families, it is our hope that this issue will be resolved as quickly as possible and we can resume providing the level of customer service we strive for,” he said. “In many instances, a copy of the certified certificate can be used by families as proof of death; we encourage funeral homes to work with the families on identifying situations where copies can be used so there is no delay in their ability to proceed with handling the business affairs of their loved ones.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.