Death certificates are needed for Social Security, life and health insurance and other time sensitive purposes.
There are two types of certified copies available to a requestor: Official and Informational.
California law defines individuals who can obtain an official copy of a birth or death certificate as:
- The registrant (person listed on the certificate) or a parent or legal guardian of the registrant. A child, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister, spouse or domestic partner of the registrant.
- A party entitled to received the record as a result of a court order, or an attorney or license adoption agency seeking the birth record in order to comply with the requirements of Section 3140 or 7603 of the California Family Code.
- A member of law enforcement agency or a representative of another governmental agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business. (Companies representing a government agency must provide authorization from the government agency.)
- 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. (If you are requesting a Certified Copy under a power of attorney, please include a copy of the power of attorney with the application form.)
- Any agent or employee of a funeral establishment who acts within the course and scope of his or her employment and who orders certified copies of a death certificate on behalf of an individual specified in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code.
If you cannot obtain an authorized copy under California law, you can obtain an informational copy. An informational copy contains the same information as an authorized copy, but will have a legend across the face with the statement “informational, not a valid document to establish identity.”
Authorized and informational copies are both “certified copies.”
Signatures and social security numbers will be redacted.
Please be advised that the County Clerk-Recorder Division maintains death records that occurred in San Mateo County only.
You may obtain a death certificate by mail request or by using VitalChek, INC.
Requests for pre-1966 Death Records require a 24-hour notice to retrieve from our off-site facility. Persons wanting to order copies of these records are requested to fill out an Application for Certified Copy of Death. Copies of these forms are available online or in our office. Records will be available the following business day upon receipt of the application.
Recent Death Records: Recent death records are available approximately 2-3 weeks after the birth date from the San Mateo County Vital Statistics/Health Department Office in San Mateo at 650.573.2395. Otherwise, the record will be available from our office usually 4 weeks after the date of death.
We do not accept telephone requests/orders.
Request by Mail
Official certified copy: you must complete Application for Official or Informational Certified Copy of Death Record, sign the Sworn Statement before a Notary Public and have your signature acknowledged by the Notary (Certificate of Acknowledgement).
Informational certified copy requests, you must complete Application for Official or Informational Certified Copy of Death Record.
If you are unable to download the form, please call 650.363.4000 (ext 1893) and we will mail you the application form.
Mail the completed application with acknowledgement and the required payment of money order, cashier’s check or a personal check (preprinted with the account holder’s name from a U.S.A. issued bank) payable to San Mateo County Clerk-Recorder. We do not accept foreign checks. Do not send cash by mail. Include a self-addressed stamped/prepaid envelope to our address below:
San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Office
Attn: Vital Records
555 County Center, 1st Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
Processing time may take several days. Please expect to receive your copies via regular mail in approximately two weeks. Certificates from the year 1865 to 1965 may require an additional two days for processing.
If no record is found, the fee will be retained for searching the record (as required by Health & Safety Code Section 103650) and a “certificate of no public record” will be issued to the applicant.
If you require return tracking or guaranteed delivery of your fulfilled order, you must provide a prepaid return air bill guaranteeing tracking and deliver, i.e. Federal Express, USPS Priority, UPS or other. If you wish to expedite your request, you must include a prepaid overnight return envelope.
Acknowledgements executed by Notaries Public outside of the U.S.A. are not accepted. Sworn Statement must be taken before an Ambassador, Minister, Consul, Vice Consul or Consular Agent of the United States, or before any Judge of a Court of record having a seal in such foreign country (CA CCP 2014).
Online with VitalChek Network, Inc.
San Mateo County Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder’s Office does not accept online orders; however, for your convenience, you can process online requests through an independent company that we have partnered with to provide you this service: VitalChek Network, Inc.
An additional fee of $7 is charged by VitalChek for using this service. All major credit cards are accepted, including American Express®, Discover®, MasterCard® and Visa®.
Neither our office nor VitalChek have control over the services and fees other Internet vendors offer and charge, nor can we guarantee the confidentiality of any vital record data provided to vendors other than VitalChek. Processing time for orders is approximately 5 – 10 business days from receipt of completed application and payment. Records not on file with our office will require additional processing time. We are not responsible for non-delivery or non-receipt of fulfilled orders by your chosen return delivery method.
If no record is found, the fee will be retained (as required by Health & Safety Code Section 103650) for searching for the record and a “Certificate of No Public Record” will be issued to the applicant.
Common examples of situations requiring a birth certificate amendment include: change of paternity, adoption, court-ordered name change, or gender reassignment, among others. The final approval and registration of all amendments must be completed by the California State Office of Vital Records. After State review and approval of the application, all new or amended certificates originate from the State Office after about two months of processing time. The State will provide our office with a copy of the amended certificate for our local files.
Please see the state’s website for instructions and official forms.