Effective July 1, 2003, the California Health and Safety Code, Section 103526, permits only authorized individuals to receive certified copies of death records. A certified copy of a death record may be required to obtain death benefits, claim insurance proceeds, notify Social Security and obtain other services related to an individual's identity.
The law describes an authorized person as:
- A parent or legal guardian
- 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 government agency, as provided by law, who is conducting official business.
- A child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner of the registrant.
- An attorney representing the registrant or the registrant's estate, or any person or agency empowered by statute or appointed by a court act on behalf of the registrant or the registrant's estate.
- A funeral director ordering 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.
In order to obtain a certified copy you must
complete the sworn statement included with the death certificate application form and sign the statement under the penalty of perjury. If you mail you request, your sworn statement must be notarized. If your mailed request indicates that you would like a certified copy but does not include a notarized statement sworn under penalty of perjury, the request will be rejected as incomplete and returned to you without being processed. (Note: A funeral director ordering copies on behalf of an individual specified in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 7100 of the Health and Safety Code is not required to complete the notarized statement)
Those not authorized by law to receive a certified copy will receive a copy marked "INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY."