Death certificates are needed for Social Security, life and health insurance, and other time sensitive purposes. You can purchase a certified or informational only copy of a death certificate in person or by mail.
Who Can Request and Receive an Authorized Certified Copy of a Death Certificate?
The law is very strict about who may request and receive authorized certified copies of death certificates. Its intent is to protect an individual’s privacy. That’s why only those listed below are authorized to obtain certified copies of death certificates.
- A parent or legal guardian of the registrant
- A child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner of the registrant
- Person(s) entitled to receive the record as a result of a court order
- 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
- A member of a law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business
- Any funeral director that orders certified copies of a death certificate on behalf of any individual specified in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code
- Conservator of the person or estate appointed under Part 3 of Division 4 of the Probate Code
- Surviving Next of Kin – competent surviving spouse or parent(s), sole surviving adult child or adult sibling and surviving competent adult person(s) respectively in the next degree of kinship
- An agent under power of attorney for health care who has the right and duty of disposition
Informational-Only Copies of Death Certificates
Those who do not meet the criteria for an authorized certified copy may receive an informational only copy. The words “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity” will be imprinted across the face of the copy.
The Office of Vital Statistics can provide authorized certified or informational only death certificates for deaths from 1966-present. For certificates prior to 1966, you must contact or go to the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.
Public and non-public agencies: $26
Government agencies: $26
Permit for disposition of human remains: $12
Transit Letters: $15
Payment types accepted are cash, checks, and credit cards (Visa and Mastercard only).
Application Process: (Note: For requests pre 1966 records, contact County Clerks Recorder’s Office 650-363-4500)
A completed application and a notarized Certificate of Identity form signed under penalty of perjury by the authorized requestor are required for all orders sent by mail. Mail the notarized application, a self-addressed envelope, and the required payment by a check or money order only (payable against a USA bank) payable to Office of Vital Statistics. Mail to: Office of Vital Statistics at 225 37th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403
Mail processing time is 3-5 days. If you wish to have us expedite your request, please enclose a pre-paid priority envelope with the required completed mailing forms from the US Postal Service along with your notarized application and check or money order. We are unable to expedite mail using UPS or FedEx.
In person processing time is 5-15 minutes. If you are an authorized individual, you may come into our office to purchase a certified death certificate. You must complete the application form online at the Kiosk in our office, which includes a sworn statement under penalty of perjury, in order to receive an authorized certified copy.
For the public and non-public agencies – For mail in requests only
The California Secretary of State provides an Apostille to authenticate California public officials’ signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. These requests are processed and issued by the California Secretary of State office located in Sacramento.
Note: If a birth or death certificate has the signature of a Health Officer or County Registrar (e.g. Local Registrar, Registrar of Vital Records), prior to presenting to our office for authentication, one of the following will be required:
- have that birth or death certificate certified by the county clerk’s office in the county in which it was issued; or
- obtain a certified copy of that birth or death certificate from the county recorder or State of California Department of Public Health.
Resources Intended for Funeral Homes/Directors Only
Death Registration Hours
Weekdays 8:30 – 4:00
Emergency Filing and Burial Permit Issuance
San Mateo County offers emergency filing to accommodate religious and cultural beliefs that require interment within 48 hours of death. The emergency filing and burial permit issuance process is completed by staff at the San Mateo Medical Center located at 222-39th Avenue in San Mateo, 2nd floor in the PBX Office. This service is for after hours, weekends, and observed holidays. Call (650) 573-2222 for assistance.
Your package must include a Drop to Paper Death Certificate with a physician’s black ink signature, a Disposition of Remains (Burial Permit), and the filing fee. For additional information call (650) 573-2395 during regular business hours.
- The form can be used by an authorized person to unlock or revise an EDRS or FDRS record. Completed forms should be faxed to (650) 573-2576. For more information, call (650) 573-2395.
Procedure for Requesting a Transit Letter
To transport human remains across state lines, an authorized individual will need to request a letter of non-contagious disease. For more information call (650) 573-2395.
Other Places to Get Death Certificates
Clerk-Recorder’s Office (note: only certificates prior
555 County Center, First Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063-1665
PO Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899
1501 Capitol Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95814