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Medical Certifier Reference - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Medical Certifier Reference

On this page: Authority, Death Registration Requirements, Provide Cause of Death Information, and Change Cause of Death Information.


The state registrar supervises the statewide system of vital records. In addition, the state registrar sets the method for death registration. In Minnesota, funeral directors and medical certifiers must register and certify deaths in Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C). MR&C promotes complete, consistent, and prompt death registration.

Minnesota Statutes, section 144.213.

Death Registration Requirements

Funeral staff and medical certifiers must register and certify Minnesota deaths within five days after death and before final disposition. Minnesota Statutes, section 144.221.

Death registration is a joint effort. Generally, a funeral director enters the legal and demographic data for the decedent into MR&C. MR&C then notifies the medical certifier. The medical certifier adds the cause and manner of death to MR&C to complete and certify the death record.

MR&C use allows medical examiners and coroners to authorize final disposition of the body electronically. And it lets families buy death certificates as soon as the death record is complete. In addition, public health can have access to current death data.

Provide Cause of Death Information

In Minnesota, only licensed medical certifiers may document the cause and manner of death. Medical certifiers are physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, coroners, or medical examiners.

Funeral home staff enter information about the decedent into MR&C. This includes the decedent’s name, dates of birth and death, place of death, method of disposition, and medical certifier’s name.

Medical certifiers must complete death records in MR&C or appoint staff to complete records in MR&C on their behalf. The cause of death is an etiologic explanation of the order, type, and association of events resulting in death. Adding the cause and manner of death is the final step in a patient’s care and your best medical opinion. Medical opinions may vary among individual certifiers.

A medical certifier must have attended the death. Or be an associate of a medical certifier who treated the deceased before death. Or have direct knowledge of the circumstances of death and access to the deceased person’s medical record.

When the manner of death is not natural, a coroner or medical examiner must provide the cause of death. The coroner or medical examiner must have jurisdiction in the county where the death occurred.

Find cause of death guidance information on MR&C for Medical Certifiers, and Additional Resources for Medical Certifiers.

Minnesota Rules, part 4601.1600 and Minnesota Rules, part 4601.1800

Change Cause of Death Information

The medical certifier named on the death certificate may change the cause of death in MR&C at any time.

A medical examiner or coroner with jurisdiction in the county of death who is not the medical certifier must complete Request to Change Cause or Manner of Death (PDF) form. The Office of Vital Records must receive the completed form to make the change.

There is no fee to change cause of death information.

Minnesota Rules, part 4601.2100, subpart 9
Updated Thursday, 28-Oct-2021 09:20:42 CDT