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Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Public Records

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Are California Vital Records Open to the Public?

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

How Do I Obtain California Vital Records Online?

Requesters must provide relevant information associated with the record to conduct an online search for California vital records. Some of these include:

  • The registrants' name
  • Date of the event
  • Place of the event
  • City or county where the life event occurred
  • First and last name of parents
  • Presiding judge (for marriage or divorce records)

Publicly available vital records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. To find a record using the search engines on third party sites, the requesting party will be required to provide:

  • The location of the record in question including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
  • The name of someone involved providing it is not a juvenile.

What Do I Need to Obtain California Vital Records?

There is no documentation 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 publicly available birth records, death records, marriage records, or divorce records by contacting the official record custodian. Alternatively, interested requesters may use 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 ID 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 an Informational Copy?

Certified copies serve as a legal document that can be used for official identification, while parties cannot use informational copies to establish identity. As a result, certified copies of vital records are only issued to individuals who have a "direct and tangible interest" in the document. One way to recognize informational copies of vital records is that most 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?

California marriage records are not generally 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 the persons named on the marriage record, while a wider group of people can access copies of a public marriage record.

How Do I Obtain Marriage Records in California?

In addition to conducting searches online, parties can obtain marriage records by contacting the Vital Records Department of the California Department of Public Health. The Vital Records Department maintains documents on marriages that occurred between July 1905 to 2000 and from 2008 to date. To obtain a marriage record by mail, interested parties must complete an application for a certified copy of the marriage record. Then, the requester must enclose the document in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mailed to:

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

Marriage records collected before 1905 are gathered and maintained in county clerks' offices because California's first law indexing vital records designated county clerks as record custodians. The statewide registration of marriages didn't begin until 1905 when records were indexed, and the California Family History Library kept copies.

Are California Divorce Records Public Information?

Most California divorce records are public information and can be viewed by public members unless restricted by statute or court order. Interested parties can search for California divorce records or obtain copies of a divorce record using basic information such as:

  • The county where the court issued the divorce
  • 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 Obtain Divorce Records in California?

Interested parties can obtain divorce records in person or via mail by sending a request to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or contacting the clerk at the court where the divorce was granted. Mail requesters must submit a completed application for certified 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. Thus, many requesters find divorce records online using third-party companies that process online requests.

Are California Birth Records Public Information?

Yes, most California birth records are public information. However, access to certified birth records, also known as birth certificates, is restricted. Typically, only the persons named on the document, legal spouses, siblings, parents, or legal representatives can order birth certificate replacements or new birth certificates.

How Do I Obtain California Birth Records?

Interested requesters may submit a request for certified copies of birth records by contacting the California Department of Public Health. This service comes at a cost, and the requester must provide identification documents to process the request for a birth record. To obtain a birth record online, interested parties must complete an application for certified birth records. 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 death records created before 1905 and death records created from 1905 to present. Before 1905, records were gathered from the Family History Library; these death records are open to the public. On the other hand, post-1905 records gathered from the California State Registrar and California Death Index are not available for public perusal without prior authorization.

How Do I Obtain Death Records in California?

The CDPH is the central custodian for public death records, and eligible persons may obtain death records for a nominal fee. The Department charges $21 per copy for a death record search, and requesters must attach payment with the mail-in application form.

Note that mail-in requests take an average of five to seven weeks to process if the application packet is complete. Furthermore, the CDPH-Vital Records division(CDPH-VR) only processes walk-in and mail requests. The agency does not receive or process online orders. However, requesters who wish to obtain online copies of death records may use independent aggregate websites.

California State Archives

State Archives

Search Includes

  • Arrests & Warrants
  • Criminal Records
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies & Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Marriages & Divorces
  • Death Records
  • Birth Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • 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.

California

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

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