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Availability of Death Certificates

Last modified: 12/31/2013 11:55 PM

What’s Available

Certified Death Records (Death Certificates) may be purchased from the Clerk-Recorder for deaths that occurred in Santa Clara County after the year 1873. If you order a death certificate and the requested certificate is not found, you will receive a Certificate of No Record, and the fee will be retained as a search fee.  Recent death certificates are usually available eight weeks after the event. If you need a death certificate earlier than eight weeks after the event, you may contact the Santa Clara County Health Department at (408) 885-2010.

Who Can Purchase Death Certificates

Effective July 1, 2003, the California Health and Safety Code, Section 103526, will permit only authorized individuals to receive certified copies of death records. Those who are not authorized by law to receive a certified copy will receive a certified copy marked "INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY." The law describes an authorized person as:

  • A parent or legal guardian of the registrant.
  • 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 governmental 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 to 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.

Death Certificate Fees

$21.00 each

Methods for Obtaining Death Certificates

The Clerk-Recorder's Office accepts in-person or mail orders at the cost of the fee stated above. If you order a certified copy by mail, you will be required to obtain a notarized statement as detailed in Obtaining a Death Certificate by Mail. 

You also have the option of placing an order on-line on the VitalChek website.  You will enter the desired certificate information and order information.  The Clerk-Recorder's Office will search our records for you as part of your order.  Note that VitalChek is a third-party and there is a convenience fee.  Due to Senate Bill 247,  birth and death certificate orders will require you to download an authorization form, get it completed, and fax it to the Clerk-Recorders Office.  Instructions appear on the VitalChek site.