California law establishes a specific process for obtaining a certified (or official) copy of a death certificate. Certified copies of a death certificate are necessary if you will be assisting in finalizing the affairs of your deceased loved one. For example, a certified copy of a death certificate is used to obtain insurance proceeds, claim death benefits, notify Social Security of a person’s death, and to deal with bank or other financial accounts.

Who is Legally Qualified to Obtain a California Death Certificate?

Only certain individuals are legally permitted to request a death certificate in California. These include:

  • Spouse or registered domestic partner
  • Adult child
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Adult sibling
  • Adult grandchild
  • Legal guardian (documentation of appointment must be shown)
  • Member of law enforcement
  • Representative of governmental agency conducting official business
  • Individual with a court order to obtain death certificate
  • Attorney representing the estate
  • Funeral home (action on behalf of anyone named above)

An individual requesting a death certificate must sign a sworn statement. The statement indicates the individual’s relationship to the deceased. The individual declares, under penalty or perjury, that he or she is eligible to receive the death certificate. The document must be signed in front of a notary, unless the requesting party is in law enforcement or a state governmental agency exempt from the notary requirement.

Cost to Obtain a California Death Certificate

There is a charge of $21 for each certified copy of a death certificate. Typically, multiple copies are needed, depending on the different financial and legal matters that must be addressed.

Checks or money orders are accepted for a death certificate. Payment is to be made to the CDHP Vital Records.

Information Needed to Request a California Death Certificate

You must provide specific information to obtain a death certificate:

  • Purpose of request
  • Name of applicant
  • Signature of applicant
  • Mailing address
  • Number of copies
  • Daytime telephone number
  • Deceased’s name
  • Deceased’s sex
  • City of death
  • County of death
  • Date of birth
  • State of birth
  • Date of death
  • Social Security number
  • Mother or parent birth name
  • Name of spouse or domestic partner

Applying for California Death Certificate

You can download an application for a death certificate at the California Department of Public Health online application portal. You can download, but not submit, the application via the internet. The document must be notarized.

You can apply in person at the Department of Public Health in Los Angeles, which services not only the metro area but surrounding communities as well. The office is located at:

Department of Public Health
313 North Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

You can download the application and mail it, with the appropriate fee, to:

California Department of Public Health

Vital Records
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899

If you use a courier services, like UPS or FedEx, the delivery address is:

California Department of Public Health

Vital Records
1501 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95814

Allow three to four weeks for delivery.