Vital Records and Indices
California passed a new law in 2003 regarding access to vital record indices
(indexes), requests for birth and death records, and what types of birth
and death records are available. These notes will hopefully clarify it
a little bit.
MARRIAGE RECORDS and INDICES
BIRTH and DEATH INDICES
There are no restrictions as to who may see the indices, request certified
copies of the records, or share any information gathered from the indices
Some county departments may let you transcribe the information from the
certificate if you visit their office.
BIRTH and DEATH RECORDS
Any previous indices that were available to the public before the current
law went into effect are NOT subject to the new restricting conditions
imposed. These previous indices are
available at various places on the internet and in printed publications.
The State has three different current indices, but only one for general
public consumption (the other two are for governmental agencies, law enforcement,
and fraud prevention). The ones for the general public are "Non-Comprehensive
indices." They include the following information:
BIRTH: first, middle, and last name, sex, date of
birth, and place of birth.
DEATH: first, middle, and last name, sex, date of
birth, place of birth, place of death, date of death, and father's last
To access the current indices, you must submit a sworn statement with the
form and sign the statement under penalty of perjury. If you mail your
request, your sworn statement must be notarized.
ANY INFORMATION gathered from these current
indices CANNOT BE SOLD, ASSIGNED OR OTHERWISE TRANSFERRED.
is, it is confidential information. You cannot share it with your cousin,
publish it in a family tree or history, post it on the internet, or yell
it on a street corner, under penalty of law.
There are two different types of records available: Certified Copies
and Certified Informational Copies.
The only difference in the information presented on these copies is that
certain signatures on the Certified Informational Copies will be
redacted (that is, marked out).
The Certified Informational Copies will include the phrase "INFORMATIONAL,
NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY."
The only other difference is the paper that is used.
If you are requesting a Certified Copy, you must
Be an authorized person:
the registrant [the person listed on the document] or a parent or
legal guardian of the registrant;
a child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner
of the registrant;
a party entitled to receive the record as a result of a court order, or
an attorney or a licensed adoption agency seeking the birth record in order
to comply with the requirements of Section 3140 or 7603 of the Family Code;
a member of a law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental
agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business; or
an attorney representing the registrant or the registrant's estate, or
any person or agency empowered by statute or appointed by a court to act
on behalf of the registrant or the registrant's estate.
Submit a sworn statement with the application form and sign the statement
under penalty of perjury. If you mail your request, your sworn statement
must be notarized.
If you are requesting a Certified Informational Copy, you must
Merely submit an application, in person or via mail, without any sworn
statement or notarization.
DISCLAIMER: Ron Filion and Pamela Storm are not
lawyers, work for any govermental agency, or advising anyone on legal matters.
We are merely presenting our impressions of the state law regarding vital
records and indices. We highly recommend that you read the law yourself
at California's website. If you
feel any of the notes above are incorrect, PLEASE feel free to contact
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