January 2016 Vital Records News

January 2016

Vital Records News

Home funeral care and home births

Home funeral care

The majority of people choose to use the services of a mortician when someone dies, but some people want to perform the funeral care process on their own, at home. Home funeral care may be undertaken by the decedent’s family and friends, regardless of where the death occurs. It is important to distinguish between a ‘home funeral’ and a death occurring at home.

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) receives a number of calls and inquiries about home funerals and answers questions about the regulations and requirements related to the activities involved in the final disposition of a dead human body. Staff in OVR inform people that they have options. Each year, Minnesota experiences about 42,000 deaths but only a handful of home funerals occur. In the last five years, there have been a total of 25 documented home funerals; five home funerals occurred in 2015.

All deaths that occur in Minnesota must be registered. The fact that someone died must be registered with the state within five days of the death or before burial, entombment or cremation, whichever comes first. To register a death, two things must occur:

  1. The mortician, funeral director or other person in charge of disposition of the body must complete the documentation of death, including demographic information about the decedent, according to Minnesota Rules, part 4601.1500.
  2. A physician, coroner or medical examiner must provide the cause of death according to Minnesota Rules, part 4601.1800.

Morticians and funeral establishment staff use the Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) system to record information electronically and to register the fact of the death in real-time. Physicians (or their designees) also use MR&C to enter the cause and manner of death.

When a family chooses a home funeral, OVR directs the family to the documentation of death worksheets on the Minnesota Department of Health Death Registration Information website. OVR assists the family in completing the fact of death worksheet. The family identifies the physician who will provide the medical information. OVR staff then create the death record in MR&C. The family must request the physician to complete and submit a paper cause and manner of death worksheet to OVR, or, the physician may file the cause and manner of death in MR&C.

Once the record is filed, OVR assists those choosing home funeral care with printing the necessary permits and authorizations for final disposition.

Home funerals may include public or private visitations.  If the body is not buried or entombed in a legally recognized cemetery or cremated within 72 hours of the time the body is released from the place of death, the body may require preservation with dry ice.

When a burial is desired on private property, advance preparation is needed. A private cemetery must be established on private land; this requires surveying, mapping or charting the land and registering it with the county or city. Local zoning officials may need to be consulted. Cremations require the services of a licensed crematory. Some crematories accept human remains directly from the family; other crematories work with a licensed funeral establishment.

Home funerals may involve transportation of the body, reporting the death to the medical examiner or coroner, and other required documentation. Costs may be incurred for transportation of the body, disposition, and other items such as a marker, casket, or urn.

Information about home funerals and the requirements and regulations for the disposition in Minnesota is available online in the MDH Mortuary Science publication, Choices.

Home Births: a small and important population in Minnesota

Each year in Minnesota, a few more mothers are choosing to have a home birth. In 2015, 818 (just over one percent) of the 69,038 live births in Minnesota was a planned home birth. The majority of births at home are planned, and attended by midwives, partners or family members.

Regardless of where they occur, all births must be registered in Minnesota. Statutes require registration within five days of the birth. For most births this means that a hospital registrar or other staff person collects data from the mother and the mother’s and newborn’s medical record. The hospital birth registrar enters (registers) the birth information into the state web-based vital records system, Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C). For home births, the required birth information is collected on Office of Vital Records (OVR) worksheets by the certified nurse midwife present at the time of birth, or the parents of the child, submitted to OVR to be validated, and then registered in MR&C. Sometimes, home births take longer to register because documentation is required to support the facts of the birth.

When a home birth record is filed before the child’s first birthday, proof is required to show that the mother was pregnant, that the mother was present in Minnesota at the time of the birth, and that the child was born alive. In addition to completed and signed OVR worksheets and attendant affidavits, other documents needed may include prenatal and pediatric clinic records. If the mother did not have prenatal care and the infant has no well-checks, immunizations, or pediatric visits, providing documentary evidence can be challenging.

If a birth, home or otherwise, is not recorded within the first year of life, OVR considers the registration ‘delayed’. Delayed birth registrations require more extensive documentation and a $40 fee. Different documents may be requested depending on the age of the subject and the age of the documentation being used as evidence. Collection of proper documentation and authentication of the documentation may be time consuming.

When processing a delayed birth registration, OVR makes sure that no birth record is already registered for the individual and reviews the documents submitted. The documents submitted may include: an official transcript or certified school or pre-school record; a valid United States passport; a hospital or clinic record; a United States census record; a certified copy of a marriage certificate issued by the office where the application for marriage was made; or a tribal enrollment card or record. The birth will be registered if the documentation meets the requirements of Minnesota law.

Birth records establish identities so fraud prevention is a high priority for OVR. Professionals such as hospital staff are key in protecting the integrity of the vital records system. Users of the system are trusted to record vital events accurately and promptly in MR&C. When a birth occurs at home or when a registration is delayed, OVR must authenticate and validate the documentation. If OVR is unable to determine with confidence that a birth occurred in Minnesota, the application to file a home birth may be rejected. If OVR refuses to file a record, the person presenting the home birth or delayed registration may petition the court.

OVR staff provide technical support and instruction to hospital staff statewide for efficient registration in MR&C. When home births occur, OVR staff work closely with the midwives and with the families to verify the authenticity of documentation received and to ensure the prompt registration of the home birth records.

New collection items for registering birth and death records in MR&C

Birth records have long had fields to capture the mother’s name before first marriage. Now, both parents’ names before first marriage can be collected in MR&C. The Office of Vital Records (OVR) added the ‘names before first marriage’ fields to the Father's Demographic Information page to offer better service to all parents. The fields for the father/parent two are optional. The mother’s last name before first marriage is required by national vital record standards. If provided, the second parent’s ‘name before first marriage’ will print on the birth certificate and the birth transcript in the father/parent two areas.  MR&C has the data fields available now. OVR will be updating all worksheets soon. Watch the Minnesota Department of Health Birth Registration website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/osr/birthreg/refdocs.html.

Death records now include the current legal name of a decedent's spouse to help surviving spouses settle estate matters. The new field is available in MR&C now. The spouse’s current legal name and name before first marriage will both print on the death certificate. The Documentation of Death worksheet is being updated to reflect the new data element.


February 2-4: OVR will exhibit and do a vital records presentation at the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) Winter Conference in Bloomington.

February 8: OVR will give a presentation on the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry (MFAR) at the Minnesota Fathers & Families Network Summit in St. Cloud.


Closed on Monday, January 18, 2016 for the Martin Luther King Holiday.


FAX only the final and correct Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form to the Office of Vital Records. Each ROP printed gets a unique sequence number. The ROP with the most up-to-date sequence number (the last ROP printed and signed by the couple) will file automatically. ROP forms faxed with sequence numbers that are prior to the last ROP printed for the couple will not file. ROP forms not generated from MR&C may still be sent to OVR; the manual filing process just takes a little longer. 


"Was or will the decedent be embalmed?" was added as a new data element in the death record with the release of MR&C Enhancements on December 30, 2015. This data field is for funeral establishment use only. The funeral home selects the appropriate response on the “Enter basic information for death record” page in MR&C. The question also appears on the Finalize Filing page after the physician or physician’s designee files the cause of death. Physicians and designees do not need to respond to the question.


Two positions are open for a Customer Service Specialist Senior in the Office of Vital Records (OVR) Issuance Unit. These positions are responsible for processing requests for vital records documents, issuing certificates, collecting fees, and other activities.

A Field Services Representative position will also be open soon; responsibilities include education and awareness activities, training, communications, special projects, and stakeholder support including technical support with MR&C.

Experience with the MR&C System and Minnesota vital records is a plus for these positions. Please check the Minnesota Management and Budget website for state employment opportunities and for more information or contact OVR by emailing molly.crawford@state.mn.us.

Volunteers needed!

The Office of Vital Records is seeking volunteers to review drafts of worksheets and application forms as OVR assesses and updates our collection of documents. Email health.MRCAdmin@state.mn.us if you are interested.


State Registrar
Molly Mulcahy Crawford

Deputy State Registrar
Heidi Granlund

Issuance Unit Supervisor and Anti-Fraud Coordinator
Brenda Shinaul

Registration & Amendments Supervisor
Krista Bauer

Adoptions & Birth Amendments
Birth Certificates
Death Amendments
Death Certificates
Local Issuance Help
MR&C Help