About the National Death Index
The National Death Index (NDI) is a central computerized index of death record information on file in the state vital statistics offices. Working with these state offices, NCHS established the NDI as a resource to aid epidemiologists and other health and medical investigators with their mortality ascertainment activities.
- Available to investigators solely for statistical purposes in medical and health research. Not accessible to organizations or the general public for legal, administrative, or genealogy purposes.
- A national file of identifying death record information (beginning with 1979 deaths) compiled from computer files submitted by State vital statistics offices. Death records are added to the NDI file annually, approximately 12 months after the end of a particular calendar year.
The following, more recent years of death are (or will be) available for routine searches or NDI Plus searches:
- Contains a standard set of identifying information on each death to be used in searches of the file to identify and locate death records in the state offices. Refer to the NDI matching criteria [PDF - 117 KB] to see how records are selected as possible.
- NDI users are encouraged to submit as many of the following data items as possible for each study subject: first and last name, middle initial, father's surname, social security number, month, day, and year of birth, race, sex, marital status, state of residence, and state of birth.
- Assists investigators in determining whether persons in their studies have died and, if so, provide the names of the States in which those deaths occurred, the dates of death, and the corresponding death certificate numbers. Refer to the NDI retrieval report [PDF - 64 KB] for a sample of how possible matches are presented.
- Investigators can then make arrangements with the appropriate State offices to obtain copies of death certificates or specific statistical information such as cause of death.
- Investigators can also obtain cause of death codes using the NDI Plus service.
To use the system, investigators first must submit a NDI application form to NCHS. Applicants should allow about 2 months for their applications to be reviewed and approved. Once approved, users may submit their study subjects' names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and related information to NCHS on diskette or CD-ROM.
The fees for routine NDI searches consist of a $350.00 service charge plus $0.15 per user record for each year of death searched. For example, 1,000 records searched against 10 years would cost $350 + ($0.15 x 1,000 x 10) or $1,850. Fees for the NDI Plus service are slightly higher. Refer to the NDI fee schedule [PDF - 1.1 MB] for all fees and for a worksheet to assist in calculating your total charges for a NDI search.
Send us an email at email@example.com to obtain a free NDI User's Manual and/or more information about the NDI. You can also reach us at:
National Death Index
Division of Vital Statistics
National Center for Health Statistics
3311 Toledo Road, Room 7316
Hyattsville, Maryland 20782