The Danish word dødsattest means death certificate.
Information in Danish Death Certificates
Genealogists in various countries such as the United States and Australia typically seek out death certificates because they provide information about relationships, possibly even parents' names. In Denmark, the primary purposes of a death certificate are to document that the person was in fact dead, so he/she could be buried, and what the cause of death was. The focus was not on vital information about the deceased because that was recorded in the parish registers.
Danish death certificates usually contain information about:
- Marital status
- The age or birthdate
- Residence, often only the name of the town
- Date and place of death
- Cause of death
- From about 1915: Birthplace
There are two types of death certificates: Ordinary death certificates and medicolegal death certificates. Medicolegal death certificates were issued when the circumstances of the death were suspicious.
Health information, including cause of death, is protected by privacy laws for 75 years. Unless you get special permission, you can therefore not see a Danish death certificate, which is less than 75 years old.
Most Danish Death Certificates Are Not Indexed Yet
Some death certificates have been indexed, but not many, so in most cases you must know approximately when the person died and where he/she lived at the time of death. And then you must patiently examine the images of the certificates one by one.
An index of death certificates from Copenhagen 1860-1912 and the entire country from 1943-1969 is available through the organization Danske Slægtsforskere, free of charge: https://dodsregister.dk
Where to Find Images of Danish Death Certificates
Images of death certificates are provided by the Danish National Archives in this collection: https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/en/other/other-collection/26
The availability of death certificates depends on the place of residence (not the deathplace) and the type of certificate.
Death certificates from Copenhagen:
- Both certificate types are available for 1840 and 1842 to 1943. At the link above, look for the archive Board of Health and for the contents Dødsattester, København (1840-1980).
Death certificates from Southern Jutland:
- Both certificate types before 1864. Follow the guidelines for market towns and rural areas below.
- No certificates seem to be extant from 1864 to 1920, when this area was under German rule.
- Both certificate types from 1921. The same guidelines as for market towns listed below.
Death certificates from market towns (købstæder):
- Both certificate types from 1840 to about 1945, but only sparingly extant from 1840 to 1875. At the link above, look for the archive Board of Health and for the contents which are divided into four groups:
- Towns in Jutland 1840-1915: Dødsattester, Jylland (1840-1915)
- Towns in Jutland after 1915: Dødsattester, Jylland (1915-1980)
- Towns at the islands (except Copenhagen) 1857-1915: Dødsattester, Øerne (1857-1915)
- Towns at the islands (except Copenhagen) after 1915: Dødsattester, Øerne (1915-1980)
Death certificates from rural areas:
- Medicolegal certificates from 1871. Follow the guidelines for market towns above.
- Ordinary death certificates from 1864 to 1919, but only sparingly extant from 1864-1875. At the link above, look for the archive of the relevant medical district.
Images of death certificates from more recent years are added regularly.
Remember that even diligent office workers in the 1800s made mistakes, so some certificates never made it to the archives.
The image at the top of the post: "Digital collections," database with images, The Danish Royal Library (http://www5.kb.dk/images/billed/2010/okt/billeder/object99037/en : accessed 5 April 2022), entry for "Ved Kirkegaarden i August 1853" by Julius Magnus Petersen. The image is public domain.