California

Open Public Record Act:

The California Public Records Act enables members of the public to inspect public records at any time during business hours. Government bodies are also required by this law to provide copies of public records upon request. A response to any request must be made within 10 days of receipt. However, there are some exceptions to the rule such as personnel records, litigation records, criminal investigations, and real estate appraisals.

Birth Records:

The California Department of Public Health is responsible for housing all birth records of individuals born within the state. The records go as far back as July 1905. Individuals can obtain copies of birth certificates by submitting a request by mail. Take note that only individuals specified in law are able to obtain an authorized copy of a birth record such as the individual named on the record and parents of the individual. All other individuals not specified by law can only obtain informational copies.

To request for a birth certificate, you’ll need to complete the application form and submit it along with a notarized sworn statement (not necessary if you’re getting an informational copy) as well as the appropriate fee. The cost of a certified copy is $25 per copy requested. Only money orders and checks made payable to CDPH Vital Records will be accepted. The processing time for this request is 6 to 7 weeks upon receipt of the request.

Marriage Records:

The CDPH Vital Records office is responsible for maintaining all public marriage records of marriages that have occurred in the state with the exception of those that occurred from 2002 to 2009. Records that fall within that timeframe will be housed in the County Recorder’s Office where the marriage license was issued. In addition, marriages that are no older than 6 months may not have a record available yet with the CDPH Vital Records office. Take note that confidential marriage records are not available at this office as well; you will need to obtain a certified copy in the County Clerk’s office where the license was issued.

To obtain a copy of a marriage record, you will need to submit a completed application form, a notarized sworn statement (if you are requesting an authorized copy), and a $15 fee (cost per copy). Only checks and money orders made payable to CDPH Vital Records will be accepted. Fees are non-refundable.

Divorce Records:

Copies of actual divorce decrees are not available from the CDPH Vital Records office. You can only obtain a certified copy of such a record from the Superior Court where the divorce was filed. What you can obtain from this office is a Certificate of Record which only lists the names of the parties involved, the county where the divorce was filed, and the court case number. This record will not indicate if the divorce was finalized. Also, only divorces that happened between 1962 to June 1984 will be filed with this office.

If you still wish to obtain a Certificate of Record, you will need to submit a completed application form as well as a $14 fee. Only checks and money orders made payable to CDPH Vital Records will be accepted. Fees are non-refundable.

Death Records:

The California Department of Public Health is responsible for housing all records of deaths that have occurred within the state. The records go as far back as July 1905. Individuals can obtain copies of death certificates by submitting a request by mail. Take note that only individuals specified in law are able to obtain an authorized copy of a birth record such as the individual named on the record and parents of the individual. All other individuals not specified by law can only obtain informational copies.

To request for a death certificate, you’ll need to complete the application form and submit it along with a notarized sworn statement (not necessary if you’re getting an informational copy) as well as the appropriate fee. The cost of a certified copy is $21 per copy requested. Only money orders and checks made payable to CDPH Vital Records will be accepted. The processing time for this request is 6 to 7 weeks upon receipt of the request.

Missing People:

The Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit of the California Department of Justice has a searchable database of missing persons that allows you to look for a missing person by name, description, county, and other categories. Each file in the database contains a photo (if possible), name, missing since date, date of birth, height, weight, and other physical attributes. In addition, the file will contain contact information of the law enforcement agency handling the case.

Elected Officials:

If you wish to get information on the elected officials of California, you can search the California State Legislature’s database to locate your legislator according to your address. You can also do a map search to locate California Senate Districts and Assembly Districts. If you don’t want to do a search, you can check the California State Legislature website to see links for the legislators’ websites and rosters.

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Court Records

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Recorder