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Death Certificates and Electronic Reporting (EDRS)

Important Information on Cremation Authorizations

Updated Cremation Module Information (August 2020)

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has provided the following information about recent changes to the Cremation Module in EDRS.

For over a year, OCME worked with Vital Records and organizations representing the funeral industry to develop and implement a module in the Electronic Death Record System (EDRS) to authorize cremations electronically when requested. This module will improve the efficiency of the cremation authorization process and address issues raised by VDH internal audit regarding prompt and complete review as well as duplication of effort. Recommendations and testing by local medical examiners, funeral directors, and OCME district staff were essential in module development.

Implementation of the electronic cremation module occurred on June 22, 2020 and only electronic cremation authorizations are valid for deaths occurring after that date. The system assures that only active appointed medical examiners are able to authorize cremation and supports timely review by assistant chief medical examiners. Additionally, it eliminates redundant examination for medical examiner cases by requiring cremation authorization by the medical examiner performing the official medicolegal death investigation and examination.

We are still working with Vital Records to institute an electronic payment system for cremation and other medical examiner services. Until this system is in place, please continue to arrange payment with the local medical examiners and/or district offices

The attached powerpoint is a guide for using the electronic cremation module.

Ensuring Active Status of Local Medical Examiners (March 2020)

The OCME issued this correspondence to the Board related to verifying the active status of local medical examiners.

Additional Information About Cremation Authorizations (February 20, 2018)

Click here to access the OCME’s February 2018 memo regarding cremation authorizations.


Updates to the Electronic Death Reporting System (EDRS)

June 9, 2020 - The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has asked for assistance in distributing the following information to funeral licensees, Using the New and Improved Cremation Module in EDRS: Information for Funeral Directors. The cremation module in the Electronic Death Reporting System (EDRS) is set to be updated around June 15, 2020.   If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.


Using the New and Improved Cremation Module in EDRS: Information for Funeral Directors

From the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia -
For over a year, OCME worked with Vital Records and organizations representing the funeral industry to develop and implement a module in the Electronic Death Record System (EDRS) to authorize cremations electronically when requested. This module will improve the efficiency of the cremation authorization process and address issues raised by VDH internal audit regarding prompt and complete review as well as duplication of effort. Recommendations and testing by local medical examiners, funeral directors, and OCME district staff were essential in module development.

Implementation of the electronic cremation module occurred on June 22, 2020 and only electronic cremation authorizations are valid for deaths occurring after that date. The system assures that only active appointed medical examiners are able to authorize cremation and supports timely review by assistant chief medical examiners. Additionally, it eliminates redundant examination for medical examiner cases by requiring cremation authorization by the medical examiner performing the official medicolegal death investigation and examination.

We are still working with Vital Records to institute an electronic payment system for cremation and other medical examiner services. Until this system is in place, please continue to arrange payment with the local medical examiners and/or district offices.

This PowerPoint is a guide for using the electronic cremation module.


Update to Code of Virginia regarding filing death certificates; medical certification; investigation by Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Effective July 1, 2018, changes have been made to Virginia Code §32.1-263 regarding filing death certificates. The new language states that “if a licensed funeral director, funeral service licensee, or representative of the office of the state anatomical program completes the certificate of death, he shall file the certificate of death with the State Registrar of Vital Records electronically using the Electronic Death Registration System and in accordance with the requirements of subsection A. If a member of the next of kin of the deceased completes the certificate of death, he shall file the certificate of death in accordance with the requirements of subsection A but shall not be required to file the certificate of death electronically.” Click here for more information and to view the complete text.


Death Certificates with "Pending" Cause of Death

Death certificates must be filed with Vital Records within three days. There is no exception for death certificates which have a “pending” cause of death. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) notified the Board that when they send the final cause of death to Vital Records, they are often finding that the “pending” death certificate was never filed. The OCME states that they will be referring these incidents to the Department of Health Professions (DHP) for investigation.

Please keep in mind, a filed death certificate that has a “pending” cause of death can meet many of the needs of the families that you are serving, so a delay in filing these death certificates may cause undue hardship and stress on families.


Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS)

Click here to read the letter and information regarding the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) from Janet Rainey, Director and State Registrar, Division of Vital Records.

For questions regarding the EDRS, please contact the Office of Vital Records. The EDRS website provides the following support and contact information:

VVESTS support is available during the normal business hours of VDH-DVR; Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. with 24/7 online support for EDRS.

VDH-DVR Contact Information:
Telephone number: (804) 662-6200, press option 5
Fax: (804) 662 - 7269
Email: vitalrec.edrs@vdh.virginia.gov


Read the letter from the State Health Commissioner and the Board of Medicine's Executive Director on the Completion of Death Certificates.

Death Certificate Information:

Memorandum dated March 18, 2011 from Janet Rainey, Director and State Registrar, VDH Division of Vital Records, regarding computer generated death certificates PDF file

Letters from Karen Remley, MD, MBA, FAAP, State Health Commissioner:
* June 27, 2011, letter regarding death certification-related regulations taking effect July 1, 2011 PDF file
* August 3, 2010, letter to physicians regarding timely completion of death certificates PDF file
* August 3, 2010, letter to funeral service providers regarding development of a plan to improve the death certification process PDF file

Death Certificate Training for practitioners

Reference Article Regarding Death Certificates PDF file