It’s not a mystery that the state with the one of the most diverse, expansive populations that gang violence and the death rate would get out of hand. Forget what happened in the 1980’s and 70’ in LA, gangs and violence are so common that the one History Channel’s most watched show is “Gangland”—a show that outlines and details the most gruesome gangs in the United States. More often than not, it seems like CA is the setting.
For both the companies and individuals who are performing background checks and gathering information for those that that have lived in California, one might think it would be a tenacious task with the sheer number of people (nearly 37 million in 2009).
With an average of over 230,000 people dying in the state of California (ca.gov 2009) a year, since 2006, the state has become good at streamlining its death records for backgrounds checks and genealogical data. For those that are looking to compile the information for him/herself, the process is streamlined for the consumer as well.
You can apply for a death record through the California State government’s Office of Vital Records. The California state government website is very detailed in explaining this process, or you can apply through the County recorder’s Office if you know the county where the death took place and it isn’t too far of a drive.
To begin with, you will obviously need to know specific information about the person that you are requesting a death record for.
You will need to know
- the name
- the city of death
- the county of death
- date of birth
- and some other personal information, which varies from county to county
Without some of this information, they may be unable to locate the record. The application fee for a death certificate is $12 and this is non-refundable. The Office of Vital Records has kept “permanent and public records of every (birth) and death that has occurred in California since July 1905, and has more than 50 million records on file.”
You can see why this takes time, effort and costs money to obtain a death certificate—but it’s a process a professional background checker would be familiar with if the consumer would rather someone else do the thorough legwork.
There are two types of death records, a certified authorized record and a certified informational record. For obtaining either, it is necessary to complete an application form as well as complete a notarized statement for the authorized record. These forms can both be found on the state website. For the application form, you will have to state information about the registrant as well as about yourself and your relationship to the said person. The notarized sworn statement is you “swearing” that you are allowed to receive this information and it also states your relation to the person, a relationship that has to be of a specific “type.” So don’t be surprised when they ask for it.
You will also need to determine whether you are able to obtain a certified (authorized) copy or a certified informational copy. There are only certain individuals who are able to obtain a certified (authorized) copy (and this relates to the “type” of relationships that I mentioned above).
- The person on the record and the parents of the individual on the record.
- Other persons who may be able to obtain an authorized death certificate are:
- the children
- domestic partner of the individual on the record
- A person acting on behalf of a court order or an attorney, government officials and police officers carrying out “official business,”
- An attorney representing the registrant or his/her estate or anyone acting (officially) on behalf of the registrant or his/her estate.
Requesting a death record under Power of Attorney, requires a copy of the power of attorney form. If you are acting on behalf of a funeral agency, then you may also be able to obtain a marriage record of the registrant. You must submit documentation to prove any status that you claim from the above.
Anyone is able to obtain a certified informational death record. This is a certified, “un”-authorized record that contains the same information as the authorized one. But, on it will be printed as “Informational” and will not be a valid document to establish identity. An informational copy does not need a sworn statement.
As with applying for marriage records, it is quicker to apply for a certified death record from the county clerk’s office of the county where the death took place. This would be better than the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Vital Records if you need it in an expedient manner. The CDPH vital records will also only accept applications done by mail—I know another hassle best left for someone else.
According to Alameda County’s website, ordering a death certificate requires only that you know the decedent’s name, date of death, and city of death. This would seem a better route to go as it requires that you know less information about the person when performing a background check. Also, when you apply through the county, you can apply online instead of only by mail and they say that death records will be available “approximately two weeks after filing.”
Another important thing to note is that it takes about six months for the CDPH to be updated about someone’s death record from the County recorder’s office. For the first six months, they advise to request the death certificate from the county recorder’s office in the county where the death took place. If you request it from the CDPH before this time period, you will most likely get a “Certificate of No Public Record,” as clearly, it will not yet be in their system.
Categories: State News and Tips