Since this system is still new for most town officials each office may need time to learn their part of the process and it may be slightly different in various places. Patience and persistence are needed.
MA has recently instituted as Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), as have many other states. Since it is so recent in MA, there are two parallel tracks to accommodate the transition time: one for physicians (online) who are familiar with and have access to the EDR system, and the other track for physicians (offline) who have not yet signed on.
This track is for the physician who must certify the cause of death and is part of the EDR system, and can input the proper information electronically. That can be the Primary Care Physician, an oncology doctor, the hospice Medical Director, nursing home medical doctor, medical examiner etc.
When the family, hospice, medical facility, or other official contacts the Town Clerk in the town where the death occurred, that Town Clerk can directly access the information.
The family provides the Town Clerk with very specific biographical information which the Town Clerk will enter as part of the record for the death certificate. A form called the “Informant Worksheet for Certification of Death” has been created to help families with providing this information.
After the Town Clerk inputs all the data, she/he then downloads and gives the Burial / Transport Permit to the family member, allowing them to legally transport their loved one to the crematory or cemetery.
In this case the attending physician is not part of the EDR system, and so a paper process will begin. The doctor will give the family a “Death Certificate Medical Certifier Worksheet” (formerly called the death certificate).
That document plus the “Informant Worksheet for Certificate of Death” linked above must be filled out by the family and taken to the Town Clerk where the death occurred so that all the information may be entered into the EDR system. After entering the information the Town Clerk will give the family a Burial/Transport Permit.
The official death certificate is available after the death has been registered with the Town Clerk as described above. The family must apply for the death certificate through that same Town Clerk. A local fee of varying amount is required either by going directly to the Town Clerk or, in some cases, applying online.