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Vital Records in California

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California Department of Public Health
Vital Records – M.S. 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA  95899-7410
(916) 445-2684
Internet: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Pages/default.aspx

Availability of California records (all counties):

Births and deaths July 1905 to present (15 business days to process).

Marriages 1998-1999 and 2010 to present (1 month to process).

For marriages that took place 1949-1986 it can take longer than 6 months to process, so it is recommended you request these records from Los Angeles county (see below).

The CDPH no longer processes requests for marriages that took place 1905-1948, 1987-1997, and 2000-2009 (you must go to Los Angeles county for these).

Divorces 1962-June 1984, but this is only a limited abstract of the divorce, and it can take over 6 months to process (it is recommended you also go to Los Angeles county for these).

All records you get from CDPH are considered “Certified,” but you can choose between an “Authorized” copy and an “Informational” copy (they contain the same information, but Authorized has restrictions on who can obtain one; Informational is easier if you don’t need the record for official purposes)

Get as much information as you can find from the following resources before you make your request:

The California Birth Records index 1905-1995 is available online at:
https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2001879?collectionNameFilter=false

Some indexing on deaths prior to 1905 is available online at:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~cabf1905/counties.htm

The California Death Records index 1905-1939 is available online at:
https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1932433?collectionNameFilter=false
The index number you’ll find here will apply to the Sacramento collection of records (not county-level)

The California Death Records index 1940-1997 is available online at:
https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2015582?collectionNameFilter=false

The California Divorce index 1966-1984 is available online at:
https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2015584?collectionNameFilter=false

FamilySearch.org

The Family History Library has been digitizing vital records, and they have several for Los Angeles County available for free online.  Here, for example, is how you can find a death certificate:

            Get the death place and date information from an index first (see resources above for this)

            From the www.familysearch.org home page, click:

Search >

Browse All Published Collections >

United States of America >

California >

California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994 >

scroll to the bottom and click “Browse through ____ images.”

DO NOT PUT YOUR PERSON’S NAME IN THE SEARCH BLANK! 

Choose your county or city (“Los Angeles” for L.A. county; “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” for the city of L.A.).

Scroll to the bottom of this big list of birth and death certificates to find the INDEX for your time frame and open it. 

Find your person alphabetically, and then note his/her index number. 

Click back to get to the main list of all the birth and death certificates and choose the year and index range for your person, and click. You will be able to find your person by the INDEX NUMBER.

The index number you may find in the state-level California Death Index will not correspond with these death certificates because these are county-level; you need to use the index number found in this data set.

 

Ancestry.com

For persons you find in the California Birth Index and California Death Index 1940-1997, you can order a copy of the death certificate via ancestry.com for a fee. Just go to Ancestry.com and find your person by using keywords (name) and other info you have. Then click “Order Original Document from VitalChek” on the left side of the record.

Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk
12400 Imperial Highway
Norwalk, CA 90650
(562) 462-2137 or (800) 201-8999
Internet:  http://www.lavote.net/RECORDER/BDM_Records.cfm

Availability of Los Angeles County records:

Births 1866 to present

Deaths 1877 to present

Marriage 1852 to present

In 1971, confidential marriages became an option in addition to conventional marriages. Confidential marriage records are available only to the spouses or by court order and cannot be searched using the marriage indexes.

See the website (above) for forms and complete information about fees, procedure, and processing times.

There are several County Clerk offices at which you can place your order in-person, but only the Norwalk address (above) has records available for viewing.

Birth records for persons who were adopted or had a name change are only available from the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento (contact info at the top of this handout).  See this pamphlet for information about adoption records: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Documents/AdoptionPAMPHLET-(04-16)-MERGED.pdf

      No divorce records here

For county-level divorce information

Available at the Los Angeles Superior Court where the divorce was filed.  If the Superior Court location is not known, information can be obtained at the County Courthouse by calling at (213) 830-0803 or going to 111 North Hill St., Los Angeles, CA, 90012.  Or try the California Divorce Index found at this free website: https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2015584?collectionNameFilter=false

Divorce filings that took place within the Central Los Angeles area are transferred to the County Record Center (Archives) normally within two to three years of the filing.  The Archives can be contacted by phone at (213) 830-0803 or in-person at 222 North Hill St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Divorce filings outside of the Central Los Angeles area can take five or more years for transfer to the Archives. Records are transferred to the Archives when storage space at the courthouses becomes limited. 

 

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