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California Death Records: How to perform a California Death Records Search

California Death Records: How to perform a California Death Records Search
November 16, 2022

Death records are public records managed by certain custodial divisions in government agencies. 


These death records are sometimes compiled and used by the government to draft important social intervention programs. 


They also make their way to critical census data and can be relied on to resolve certain court cases.  


These are just a few of the many reasons why the government of California makes its death records available on order, albeit to only eligible persons in most cases.


So if you ever need to find death records in California, you can trust that they'll be found in the Vital Records unit of their custodial agencies. 


This article intends to point you toward these agencies whenever you need to find death records in California.

Death Records In California

Whenever the death of a person is recorded in California, the event is registered in official record databases, and a document is drafted to that effect. 


This document is a legal report of the death containing the deceased's personal information and official confirmation of the details of their death. 


The information is compiled and filed as California death records to be kept in custody at the state's vital records unit. 

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Information Contained In California Death Records

The information provided in California death records is both informational and legally binding. 


This means that the document contains personal details of the decedent and an official index number used in archiving provisions for filing and legal purposes. 


Some of this personal information includes the following.

* The full name(first, middle, and last name) of the deceased, as well as any known alias. 
* Their gender, color, race, and other important biodata details
* The death record's State file number and Local registration number
* Place and date of birth
* Place and date of birth, including age at the time of death
* Occupation and residence as at the time of their death
* Marital status
* Name of Parents or spouse
* Name and license number of the funeral home
* Medically confirmed Cause of death (and relevant health data) and Physician’s certification

How are California Death Records Created?

California death records are created from a combination of efforts by the funeral home where the corpse is deposited, an authorized medical certifier, and the state registrar. 


While the funeral director takes care of the demographic and identifying information aspect of the record, a physician or coroner sees the medical certification. 


The death certificate is later transferred to the state registrar for filing and official registration of the death record/certificate. 

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Where Can I Find California Death Records 

While availability varies across counties, you can find death records at the county office in the county where the death is reported. 


Otherwise, you can resort to the California State Office of Vital Records to find the record. These options are discussed in detail below. 

The County Health Department or The County Recorder


To find publicly available California death records, you can stop by the county recorder in the decedent's county of death and request access to their death record. 


You can also check out the county health department in the county where the death took place and file your request. 


You'd need to have prior knowledge of the service payment and the acceptable mode of request and receipt of the sought-after record. 

The Vital Records Unit of the CPDH (CPDH-VR)

The official place to find death records (dating as far as July 1905) in California is at the state's  Department of Public Health - Vital Records (CDPH-VR). 


You'd be required to complete a document known as the " Application for Certified Copy of Death Record" and submit it to the Vital Records office.  There, you can access both certified and informational copies of these death records.

hands typing on a laptop keyboard in front of a row of large folders


However, you can only be authorized to collect a certified copy of the records by virtue of your direct relationship with the decent or direct interest in the record. 


This service costs $21 per copy to be paid via check or money order and attached to the application packet/envelope. 


Your application must also be accompanied by the sworn statement of a notary public to be granted access to these certified copies. The application can now be sent to the following address:


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

Third-Party Websites

You can find California death records on a host of third-party websites. These websites have dedicated search portals with text fields that take in the search parameters. 


To find California death records using these third-party websites, you'd only be required to provide the name of the deceased person and their last known address. 


This last known address usually translates to the place(state or county)of death and the place where the death record was created.


Once you provide these details and click on the search bar, you'll be directed to a page showing a string of potential results. 


You can trim down the results field by providing additional information about the decedent as prompted and arrive much more quickly at the correct result.

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