vital records

California Vital Records

In California, vital records are kept at the California Department of Public Health and at a local level at county recorders offices or county health offices.

In California there are almost no government websites with searchable databases for locating vital records.

California Department of Public Health

The California Department of Public Health in Sacramento keeps statewide birth, death and marriage certificates, as well as indexes of divorces.

You cannot just view the records, you have to purchase a copy of the certificates.

The office does not put its indexes of vital records online. 

The office does have a website with instructions on how to order records:

Birth, Death, Fetal Death, Still Birth & Marriage Certificates

County Records

In California, a county recorder's office will keep an index of births, deaths and marriages that occurred in that county (divorce records are civil actions filed separately in a county superior court).

For recent births and deaths, the records are kept by the county health department.

Some counties allow you to check the index yourself at the agency's office, but at others you have to ask a clerk to look up a name.

There almost always is a charge for getting a copy of any of the records. Most counties will not let you just view the records. You have to purchase a copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate (divorce records are civil filings and those can be reviewed for free at a county superior court).

The indexes and records rarely are available online.

A list of each of the county health departments and recorder's offices that index birth, death and marriage certificates can be found at the state Center for Health Statistics Web site:

County Registrars and Recorders

Here are Web sites for some county agencies in the Bay Area that handle vital records: