How to Find California Death Records
How to Find United States Deaths California Deaths
Statewide registration of deaths began in 1905 with general compliance by 1920.
Next Step: When did the death occur?
Deaths before 1905
Before 1905, some counties in California kept death records. Search California, County Births and Deaths Records, 1849-1994 to see if your ancestor's death record was included. If not, you will need to search substitute records to locate your ancestor’s death date and place.
|Records that give death information:|
Deaths after 1905
Statewide registration of births began in 1905 with general compliance by 1920. The Vital Records office of the California Department of Public Health has copies of deaths from 1905 to present day.
STEP ONE: Find Death Information
For deaths that exist during this time period, try the following database.
|California Death Databases - Includes Indexes and Images|
|1849 - 1994 - At FamilySearch.org||Free; images of county death indexes, certificates, registers, and coroner's inquests.|
|1905 - 1939 - At FamilySearch.org||Free; images of an index of death records created by the Office of the State Register, Sacramento.|
|1940 - 1997 - At FamilySearch.org||Free; index of death records created by the California Department of Health Services.|
|Can't find your ancestor in the online index?||Tips for searching online indexes|
STEP TWO: Obtain the Certificate
|To Order Death Certificates|
|County Registrar and Recorder offices||Vital Records office of the California Dept of Public Health|
|May be less expensive and faster than ordering from the state||County websites can be more difficult to use||Has an expedited service on Vital Chek||May be more expensive than ordering from the county|
Restrictions for death certificates:
To obtain an authorized copy of the death certificate, you must be:
- The decedent's spouse, parent, child, grandchild, or sibling
- A legal party (attorney, law enforcement or representative of the government) with authorization or court order
- The legal custodian, guardian, or authorized representative of the person named on the record
- An individual who orders the certificate in behalf of an individual in the above categories
NOTE: An authorized copy of the death certificate cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above. If you cannot obtain an authorized copy, you can order an informational copy.
If you do not want to order the death record, there are other records with death information you can search.