How to Find Death Records in California?
The California Department of Public Health has the responsibility for preserving, as well as, issuing records related to all deaths that took place in California. Also, the department only issues California death records copies from the year 1905 to till date. If a person requests for death records post 1970, the request usually takes around 3 weeks to process. However, when someone requests for any record before 1970, it takes around 7 weeks to get the request processed.
Irrespective of whether a person wishes to procure California death records before or after 1970, they can only get them provided they have the required eligibility. However, people can look up online death records in California for reference purposes only.
Restrictions for receiving death certificates in California
According to state law, only specific people have the authorization to get a certified copy of a California death certificate. They are as follows:
- The spouse, sibling, grandchild, child, or parent of the decedent
- The authorized representative, guardian, or the legal custodian of the individual whose name appears on the death record
- A person who requests for the death record on behalf of any other person in the categories mentioned above
Methods to obtain California death certificate1. Visit the office in-person
It is the first way to request and get public death records in California. Visit the local office of the California Department of Public Health, submit the filled up application form to get the death record’s certified copy and pay the necessary fee. Additionally, the applicant may also have to produce a sworn statement. The fee to get a copy of the death records in California is 21 USD.
2. Obtain a certificate by post
The application form for procuring a certified death record copy is available on the website of the state’s Department of Public Health. You need to simply download this application form, get it printed, and then fill it up. Thereafter, send it to the Department of Public Health Vital Records in Sacramento, California with the applicable notarized statement. You have to also enclose a fee of 21 USD to order for California death records.
Certified copies of a death certificate can be of two different types. These are certified information copies and certified copies. A certified copy of a California death record may be used for determining the identity of an individual whose name appears on the death record. These copies need notarized sworn statements mentioning that the applicant is legally authorized to get the death record’s certified copy in California.
While the state’s Department of Public Health will not receive any online orders from any person for death certificates, it recommends you to visit the website of the VitalChek for submitting such online orders.
Visit the home page of VitalChek and choose the record type as “death certificate”. Also, go to the drop-down box next and choose “California” from the list of states. You have to then select the city name where the death took place, as well as the date when the death occurred. Mention the reason for the online request such as for “Legal Purposes” or “Genealogy/Family History”. The certificate types if available will be listed together along with the required fee. Furnish personal details about yourself and the deceased. Finally, go through the payment instruction and complete your order.
4. Obtaining Autopsy reports in California
Autopsy reports are public records in the state unless it has been declared as confidential according to the public-records exemption. Such a record can be considered confidential when there is a pending case where the investigation agency is using it. Get in touch with the Medical Examiner-Coroner Public Services when you wish to procure a copy of the autopsy report in California.