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Handbooks and Guides for Use With U.S. Standard Certificates and Reports

Handbooks for coding and classification of vital records

A number of training materials were prepared on each of the certificates and reports and were directed at specific individuals responsible for completing vital records. Information on how the registration system operates, item-by-item instructions for completing each item, and rationale for collecting the information were included.

2003 Revisions

  • Guide to Completing the Facility Worksheets for the Certificate of Live Birth and Report of Fetal Deatht [PDF – 577 KB]
    This guide was developed to assist in completing the facility worksheets for the revised Certificate of Live Birth and Report of Fetal Death (birth certificate [BC], facility worksheet for the report of fetal death [FDFWS], report of fetal death [FDR]).
    NOTE: In February 2019, the following clarification was added to Date of the first prenatal care visit (page 10) and Total number of prenatal care visits (page 11): “Information obtained on prenatal care received in countries other than the United States and in languages other than English is permitted and should be used.”
  • Physicians’ Handbook on Medical Certification of Death [PDF – 1.2 MB]
    This handbook is designed to acquaint physicians, medical students, and others with the vital registration system in the United States and to provide instructions for completing and filing death certificates. Emphasis is directed toward the certification of medical information, the primary responsibility of the physician, and a critical piece of information on the death certificate.
  • Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting [PDF – 2.9 MB]
    This handbook is designed to acquaint medical examiners and coroners with the vital registration system in the United States and to provide instructions for completing and filing death certificates and fetal death reports. Emphasis is directed toward the certification of medical information relating to these events when they come within the jurisdiction of the medical-legal officer (i.e., medical examiner or coroner).
  • Funeral Directors’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting [PDF – 1.3 MB]
    This handbook is designed to acquaint funeral directors with the vital registration system in the United States and to provide instructions for completing and filing records of death and fetal death. Emphasis is directed toward the responsibilities of the funeral director in handling these certificates and reports and in obtaining proper authorization for final disposition of a dead body. Background information is included on the importance of these documents for legal and statistical purposes and specific instructions for obtaining the necessary information.

Updated or Supplemental Guidelines

1989 Revisions

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