California Vital Records Research Guide

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Ordering CA Vital Records
CA Vital Records Background
CA Vital Record Links
State Vital Records

California Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death records, also referred to as vital records, supply details about significant events in your ancestors life. Vital records, typically kept by a civic office, can provide you a more complete picture of one’s ancestor, make it easier to differentiate concerning two people utilizing the same name, and enable you to uncover links to a brand new generation. They can include information and facts like the occasion date and place, parents’ names, profession and residence. The cause of death is also listed in the majority of California death records.

California vital records really are a foundation of California genealogy and family history research because they were normally documented at or close to the time of the occurrence, making the record more likely to be reliable. This web page contains links, details that will help you obtain copies from California state and county vital records keepers. Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the milestones of our lives and are the foundation of genealogy and family tree research.

California Department of Health, issues, documents, and stores certified copies of vital records including birth, marriage, divorce death certificates for occurrences that took place in California.  To verify current fees or for information on how to expedite a document, call (916) 445-2684.California Vital Records

  • Ordering California Birth  Certificates: The Department of Public Health has Birth Certificates from July 1905 to present. The fee  is $18. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder in the county where the event occurred.
  • Ordering California Death Certificates: The Department of Public Health has Death Certificates from July 1905 to present. The fee  is $14. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder in the county where the event occurred.
  • Ordering California Marriage Certificates: The Department of Public Health only has indexes for public marriage certificates that occurred from 1949-1986 and 1998-1999.  The fee  is $14. For all other years, contact the County Recorder in the county where the event occurred; for confidential marriages, contact the County Clerk where the marriage license was issued. Full certified copies may be ordered from County Clerk in county where license was issued. The fee for the copy varies.
  • Ordering California Divorce Certificates:  The Department of Public Health has Certificate of Records between 1962 and June, 1984. The fee  is $13. It only includes the names of the parties to the divorce, the filing date, the county where the divorce was filed, and the court case number. Full certified copy may be obtained from Circuit or Chancery Clerk in county where divorce was granted. For all other years or for a copy of the decree, contact the Superior Court in the county where the event occurred. The fee for the copy varies.

How to Order California Vital Records

  • Physical Address: California Department of Public Health, Vital Records – MS 5103, 1501 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95814; PH (916) 445-1719 or (916) 445-2684; Fax: (800) 858-5553
  • Mailing Address: CA Department of Public Health – Vital Records, MS: 5103, P.O. Box 997410, Sacramento, CA 95899-7410. All mail orders should include a Personal check or money order made payable to CDPH Vital Records. Do not send cash.
  • Website Address:
  • Ordering Vital Records Online – get the certificates within 2-5 days with a credit or debit card from or
  • Ordering Vital Records by Mail: You can download an application online for California Birth CertificateMarriage CertificateDivorce CertificateDeath Certificate Applications. Please allow up to 4-7 weeks for processing of all type of certificates ordered through the mail.
  • In Person:  Stop in the State Office or local County Registrars and Recorders office. Most certificates can be issued while you wait. List of County Registrars and Recorders Office locations. Birth and death records for current-year events and one year prior are available from the county health department; records for all years are maintained by the county recorder. Marriage records may be obtained from the county recorder; confidential marriage records are available only through the county clerk of the county where the license was issued.

Background of California Vital Records

California Vital RecordsVital records in California have been kept by the state registrar of vital statistics since 1 July 1905. Earlier vital records are entered in the county where the event took place. Pre-1905 records in the counties may be quite slim. In Sacramento County, for example, only three births were entered for the period between 1858 and 1874, and only forty-three deaths between 1858 and 1864. Marriages, on the other hand, seem to have been recorded more regularly. Some court-ordered delayed birth certificates have been registered by the state registrar. For all vital records, contact the California Department of Health Services, Office of Vital Records, 304 “S” St., Sacramento, CA 95819 (Mailing address: P.O. Box 730241, Sacramento, CA 94244-0241). There is no statewide index that includes the pre-1905 records held by counties; however, the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City has microfilm copies of many pre-1905 California county vital records.

The early California births kept by the state are indexed and online for selected years at at California Birth Index, 1905-1995, which also has the California Death Index online (1940–97). The California Department of Health Services has a CD-ROM index of births (1905–95) and deaths (1905–90), which is currently available at many libraries. However, because of changing California laws regarding the state’s vital records, the availability of these may change in the future. The website has indexes to California state vital records.

The FHL has microfilm copies of most California marriages kept by the counties. There is an ongoing project to provide a statewide index to these records on the Internet through the BYU-Idaho Family History Center in Rexburg, Idaho, as part of its Western States Historical Marriage Records database. It can be searched at also has a marriage database for California at California Marriage Index, 1960-1985.

Divorce records are available in the office of the clerk of the superior court in the county in which the proceedings were conducted. Subscribers to can search the California Divorce Index, 1966-1984.
There is also an index of California deaths at Subscribers can search this index at California Death Index, 1940-1997.

Searchable California Vital Records Databases and Links

State Vital Records Guides