About the National Death Index

National Death Index graphic

Working with state offices, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) established the National Death Index (NDI) as a resource to aid epidemiologists and other health and medical investigators with their mortality ascertainment activities.

The purpose of the NDI is to provide the public health and medical research community with an opportunity to obtain mortality follow-up information on their study participants, without having to go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

A database of all deaths in the United States

As the most complete source of death information in the United States, the NDI currently holds the following:

  • All death records from 1979-latest for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Records from select years for Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas
  • Recent data from out-of-country deaths of U.S. military personnel
  • Belated records (when available)

Vital Mortality Information for Researchers

The NDI assists investigators in determining whether persons in their studies have died and, if so, provides:

  • Names of the states in which those deaths occurred
  • Dates of death
  • Corresponding death certificate numbers
  • Cause(s) of death, if using the NDI Plus service

The NDI has been used to determine the mortality status of participants in thousands of studies, including:

  • Survival time among people with health conditions (e.g., cancer and heart disease)
  • Mortality risk among certain occupations (e.g., radiologists, pesticide applicators, and auto workers)
  • Effectiveness of surgeries (e.g., gastric bypass and bone marrow transplants)
  • Impact of dietary factors (e.g., sodium, vitamins, coffee, and antioxidants) on risks of death
  • Intersection of healthcare and mortality, such as the costs associated with end-of-life care

Mortality risks among vulnerable populations, such as children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, people released from prison, and psychiatric patients

Includes the latest mortality data available

Our data come from death certificates submitted by states and territories through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. We release NDI data in final files and  in preliminary (early release) formats.

NDI Final File: Death records are added to the NDI final file annually, approximately 11 months after the end of the calendar year. Historically, before a particular calendar year of deaths can be made available for NDI routine searches, NCHS must receive, process, and edit death records from all vital statistics offices.

NDI Early Release File(s): To allow for faster access, NCHS’ Division of Vital Statistics established the NDI Early Release Program in 2014. This program makes death records available for searches when at least 90% of the year’s death records have been received and processed. The Early Release Program facilitates the work of health researchers to determine the vital status, and cause(s) of death, of their study participants more quickly. However, it is subject to change until finalized. More recently, quarterly updates to the Early Release Files are being implemented.

See our fact sheet for more details about NCHS and the NDI.

Learn more about how to apply for a search, or find detailed answers to questions and payment information in our Frequently Asked Questions

Reach Out to Us

Please send us an email at ndi@cdc.gov to submit any requests or questions you may have concerning the NDI. Please include your name, address, and phone number in your email request. You can also reach us by calling (301) 458-4444.