California Vital Records

Discover your
family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

choose a state:
Start Now

Vital records, as their name suggests, are connected with central life events: birth, marriage, and death. Maintained by civil authorities, they are prime sources of genealogical information; but, unfortunately, official vital records are available only for relatively recent periods. These records, despite their recent creation in the United States, are critically important in genealogical research, often supplying details on family members well back into the nineteenth century. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, by Loretto Szucs and Sandra Luebking.

Birth Records

Birth Records Available: Effective July 1, 2003, there are two types of certified copies of birth and death records. The first type is a regular certified copy identical to those issued prior to July 1, 2003. These will be issued only to authorized individuals as defined by California Health and Safety Code Section 103526. The second type is also a regular certified copy; however, it will have a legend across the face with the statement “INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY.” Both of these documents are certified copies of the original document on file with our office. With the exception of the “legend,” they are exactly the same and contain exactly the same information.

Restrictions: In order to obtain a Certified Copy after July 1, 2003, you MUST complete the sworn statement included with the death certificate application form and sign the statement under penalty of perjury. If you mail your request, your sworn statement must be notarized. If your mailed request indicates that you want a Certified Copy but does not include a notarized statement sworn under penalty of perjury, the request will be rejected as incomplete and returned to you without being processed. (Note: A funeral director ordering copies on behalf of an individual specified in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code is not required to complete the notarized statement.)

The new law describes an authorized person as:

  • The registrant or a parent or legal guardian of the registrant.
  • A party entitled to receive the record as a result of a court order, or an attorney or a licensed adoption agency seeking the birth record in order to comply with the requirements of Section 3140 or 7603 of the Family Code.
  • A member of a law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business.
  • A child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner of the registrant.
  • An attorney representing the registrant or the registrant’s estate, or any person or agency empowered by statute or appointed by a court to act on behalf of the registrant or the registrant’s estate.

Cost: The fee for a birth certificate is $14. Please do not send cash when applying by mail.

Information Required: Please provide as much of the following information as possible for them to locate the birth certificate:

Send To: Send a check or money order (made payable to Office of Vital Records) with the application form to:

California Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

In California? Customers requesting vital records at the public counter should use the L Street entrance between 15th and 16th Streets.

California Office of Vital Records
1501 Capitol Avenue, Suite 71.1110 – 1st Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Questions: If you don’t have the ability to print the form, call the Customer Service Unit to have a copy mailed to you ( 916/445-2684 ).

Need your certificate quickly? Because of the large volume of requests that is processed at the state level, most of the county offices can provide a faster processing time than the state office (often within one week). Also, many of the county offices will accept requests (using a credit card) by phone, fax, or on-line.

  • For Birth, Death, and Public Marriage Certificates: Contact the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the event took place.

    • Note: If your record has been amended due to an adoption, court ordered name change, or paternity action, we can’t guarantee that the county office will have your record. In these cases, you may want to submit your request to the (state) office for processing.

Death Records

Death Records Available: Effective July 1, 2003, there are two types of certified copies of birth and death records. The first type is a regular certified copy identical to those issued prior to July 1, 2003. These will be issued only to authorized individuals as defined by California Health and Safety Code Section 103526. The second type is also a regular certified copy; however, it will have a legend across the face with the statement “INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY.” Both of these documents are certified copies of the original document on file with our office. With the exception of the “legend,” they are exactly the same and contain exactly the same information.

Deaths prior to 1940 will take from 4-6 months (or longer) to process, depending on the amount and accuracy of the information provided. These records require manual search of the files.
We suggest that you order from the County Recorder’s Office for records older then 1940.

Restrictions: In order to obtain a Certified Copy after July 1, 2003, you MUST complete the sworn statement included with the death certificate application form and sign the statement under penalty of perjury. If you mail your request, your sworn statement must be notarized. If your mailed request indicates that you want a Certified Copy but does not include a notarized statement sworn under penalty of perjury, the request will be rejected as incomplete and returned to you without being processed. (Note: A funeral director ordering copies on behalf of an individual specified in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code is not required to complete the notarized statement.)

The new law describes an authorized person as:

  • The registrant or a parent or legal guardian of the registrant.
  • A party entitled to receive the record as a result of a court order, or an attorney or a licensed adoption agency seeking the birth record in order to comply with the requirements of Section 3140 or 7603 of the Family Code.
  • A member of a law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business.
  • A child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner of the registrant.
  • An attorney representing the registrant or the registrant’s estate, or any person or agency empowered by statute or appointed by a court to act on behalf of the registrant or the registrant’s estate.

Cost: The fee for a death certificate is $12. Please do not send cash when applying by mail.

Information Required: Please provide as much of the following information as possible for them to locate the death certificate:

Send To: Send a check or money order (made payable to Office of Vital Records) with the application form to:

California Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

In California? Customers requesting vital records at the public counter should use the L Street entrance between 15th and 16th Streets.

California Office of Vital Records
1501 Capitol Avenue, Suite 71.1110 – 1st Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Questions: If you don’t have the ability to print the form, call the Customer Service Unit to have a copy mailed to you ( 916/445-2684 ).

Need your certificate quickly? Because of the large volume of requests that is processed at the state level, most of the county offices can provide a faster processing time than the state office (often within one week). Also, many of the county offices will accept requests (using a credit card) by phone, fax, or on-line.

  • For Birth, Death, and Public Marriage Certificates: Contact the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the event took place.

Marriage records

Marriage Records Available:

  1. Public Marriage Where County is Unknown (Years 1905 Through 1986, 1998, and 1999):
    1. We suggest that you look up the county record by accessing the database at the California Database of marriage records. Then order the marriage certificate through the County Recorder’s Office.
    2. If you’ve exhausted all efforts and still can’t identify the county that issued the license, you can submit your request to our office for processing. To ensure that they don’t return your request to you for referral to the county office, it is imperative that you include a note that indicates you are unable to identify the specific county where the license was issued. These requests will be processed by the state, but the processing time can take up to 2-3 years.
  2. Public Marriage From 1987-1997 or From 2000 to Present: The state office does not maintain records of public marriages for these years. You must contact the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the license was issued.
  3. Confidential Marriage: The state office does not maintain records of confidential marriages. You must contact the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the license was issued. The following links will connect you to a list of the County Clerk’s Office in each county:

Restrictions:

Cost: The fee for a marriage certificate is $13.

Information Required: Please provide as much of the following information as possible for them to locate the marriage certificate:

  • Full name of husband
  • Full maiden name of wife
  • Date of marriage
  • County where marriage license was issued
  • Your name
  • Your signature
  • Address where the certificate is to be mailed
  • Your daytime phone number

Send To: Send a check or money order (made payable to Office of Vital Records) with the application form to:

California Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

In California? Customers requesting vital records at our public counter should use the L Street entrance between 15th and 16th Streets.

California Office of Vital Records
1501 Capitol Avenue, Suite 71.1110 – 1st Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Questions: If you don’t have the ability to print the form, call the Customer Service Unit to have a copy mailed to you ( 916/445-2684 ).

Need your certificate quickly? Because of the large volume of requests that are processed at the state level, most of the county offices can provide a faster processing time (often within one week). Also, many of the county offices will accept requests (using a credit card) by phone, fax, or on-line.

  • For Birth, Death, and Public Marriage Certificates: Contact the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the event took place.

  • For Confidential Marriage Certificates: Contact the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the marriage license was issued.

Divorce Records

Records Available: The state office issues a Certificate of Record for divorces that occurred only between 1962 and June 1984. A Certificate of Record includes the names of the parties to the divorce, the county where the divorce was filed, and the court case number. A Certificate of Record is not a certified copy of the divorce decree.

If you need a certified copy of the actual divorce decree, you’ll need to contact the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was filed.

If you’ve exhausted all efforts and still can’t identify the county where the divorce was filed, you can submit your request for a Certificate of Record (1962 through June 1984 only) to our office for processing. Due to budgetary constraints, our processing time can take up to 2-3 years.

Restrictions:

Cost: The fee for a Certificate of Record is $13.

Information Required: Please provide as much of the following information as possible for them to locate the divorce certificate:

  • Full name of husband
  • Full maiden name of wife
  • Date of divorce
  • County where divorce was granted
  • Your name
  • Your signature
  • Address where the certificate is to be mailed
  • Your daytime phone number

Send To: Send a check or money order (made payable to Office of Vital Records) with the application form to:

California Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

 

In California? Customers requesting vital records at our public counter should use the L Street entrance between 15th and 16th Streets.

California Office of Vital Records
1501 Capitol Avenue, Suite 71.1110 – 1st Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Questions: If you don’t have the ability to print the form, call the Customer Service Unit to have a copy mailed to you ( 916/445-2684 ).

Need your certificate quickly? Because of the large volume of requests that are processed at the state level, most of the county offices can provide a faster processing time (often within one week). Also, many of the county offices will accept requests (using a credit card) by phone, fax, or on-line.

  • For Divorce Certificates: Contact the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was filed.

California Vital Record Databases

California Subscription Genealogy Databases
Try the US and Canada Collection for 14 Days Free!



MLA Source Citation:

AccessGenealogy.com United States Vital Records. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/vital-records/california-vital-records.htm - Last updated on Feb 26th, 2014


Categories: ,


Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Page Contents

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.