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Are California Vital Records Open to the Public?

Most vital records are open to the public. However, access to a record will depend on the type of record and the year in which the event occurred. Certified or authorized copies are typically restricted to the named registrant, immediate family members, legal guardians, or any party with written authorization.


What Information Do I Need to Search for California Vital Records Online?

To conduct an online search for California vital records, requesters must be able to provide relevant information associated with the record. Some of these include:

  • Name of the registrant(s)
  • Date of the event
  • Place of the event
  • City or county where the event occurred
  • First and last name of parents
  • Presiding judge (marriage or divorce records)


Publicly available vital records are also accessible from some third-party websites.* These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name


*Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.


What Do I Need to Obtain California Vital Records?

No documentation is required to obtain informational copies of a public vital record. In compliance with the California Public Records Act (CPRA), citizens have the right to inspect or obtain copies of public records. Interested parties can search for public birth, death, marriage or divorce records by contacting the official record custodian or using a third-party company that provides this service. However, to obtain authorized copies of a specific record, requesters may be required to provide a government-issued I.D proving their eligibility. Interested parties may also be expected to submit a notarized certificate of acknowledgment or sworn statement alongside their application.


What’s the difference between a Certified Record and Informational Copy?

Certified copies serve as a legal document that can be used for official identification while informational copies cannot be used to establish identity. As a result of this, certified copies are only issued to individuals who have a “direct and tangible interest.” Most informational copies come with a stamp or large print across the face of the document that reads "Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity.”

Are California Marriage Records Public Information?

Not all Marriage Records are open to the public. There are two types of marriage records: confidential marriage records and public marriage records. Confidential marriage records can only be accessed by parties to the marriage, while copies of a public marriage record can be accessed by a wider group.


How do I find marriage records in California?

In addition to conducting searches online, marriage records can be obtained by contacting the Vital Records department of the California Department of Public Health. It maintains public records of marriages that occurred between July 1905 to 2000 and from 2008 till present. The first law requiring marriage records to be collected was passed in 1850, with all records before 1905 being gathered by the county clerks offices. The state-wide registration of marriages didn’t begin until 1905, at which point records were indexed and copies were kept by California’s Family History Library.

To obtain a marriage record by mail, interested parties must submit a completed Application for Certified Copy of Marriage Record to the:

California Department of Public Health
Vital Records – MS 5103
PO Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

Are California Divorce Records Public Information?

Most California Divorce Records are public information and can be viewed by members of the public. Interested parties can search for California divorce records or obtain copies of a divorce record using basic information such as:

  • The county where the divorce was issued
  • Name of the parties involved in the divorce (as at the time of divorce)


However, there are instances where divorce court records may be sealed from the public. Divorce records may contain redacted information if:

  • They include account numbers, social security numbers, and other financial information
  • They include the identities of victims of domestic violence or child abuse
  • They include proprietary business information


How do I find Divorce Records in California?

Divorce records can be found online using third-party companies that process online requests. Records can also be obtained in person or via mail by sending a request to the California Department of Public Health or contacting the clerk at the court where the divorce was granted. Requesters will be expected to submit a completed Application for Certified Copy of Divorce Records to:

California Department of Public Health
Vital Records – MS 5103
PO Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410

Mail-in requests take an average of 7 weeks to process and sometimes as long as six months.

Are California Birth Records Public Information?

Yes, most Birth Records in California are public information. However, access to certified birth records is typically restricted to only the registrant, spouse, siblings, parents, or legal representatives. California separates its birth certificate records into two sections, early-1905 and 1905-present. Before 1905, all records were gathered from the church and county records of vital statistics. Monterey County actually recorded births as far back as 1824. Since 1905, all records have been gathered from the Family History Library in California.


How Do I Find California Birth Records?

Birth record information can be found online. Certified copies of birth records can also be obtained by contacting the California Department of Public Health, but they do come at a cost. To obtain a birth record online, interested parties must submit a completed Application for Certified Birth Record. Requests for authorized certified copies must also include a notarized statement.

Are California Death Records Open to the Public?

Most California Death Records fall under the umbrella of public information. California death certificates are split into two broad groups, namely early-1905 and 1905-present. Before 1905, records were gathered from the Family History Library, whereas post-1905 records are annually gathered from the California State Registrar and California Death Index.


How Do I Find Death Records in California?

Death records can be found using an online third-party search service. Records can also be obtained from the California Department of Public Health, but they do come at a cost. Death certificate copies cost $21, and can also be obtained, after submission of an Application for Certified Death Record. Mail-in requests take an average of five to seven weeks to process.

Note: Although the California Department of Public Health - Vital Records (CDPH-VR) processes walk-in and mail requests, it does not receive or process online orders.

California State Archives

State Archives

Search Includes

  • Arrests & Warrants
  • Criminal Records
  • Driving Violations
  • Police Records
  • Sheriff Records
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies & Misdemeanors
  • Probation Records
  • Parole Records
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Marriages & Divorces
  • Birth Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Personal Assets
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • Political Contributions
  • Unclaimed State Funds
  • Relatives & Associates
  • Address Registrations
  • Affiliated Phone Numbers
  • Affiliated Email Addresses

Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.


The Mariposa Superior Court in Mariposa has conducted proceedings since 1854. This makes it the longest active courthouse west of Rocky Mountains.