FAQs Death Certificates


As of 3/20/2023, the Office of Vital Records has moved to:

5560 Overland Avenue, Suite 130
San Diego, CA 92123

 FAQs Related to Death Certificates

For more information send us an email or phone 619-692-5733.

Q:         How can I correct an error on the certificate or add information?

A:         Our office must evaluate each situation in order to determine what can be done and which forms may apply to your particular needs. Call our office and we will assist you in any way possible. Our telephone number is: (619) 692-5733.


Q:         When is a Permit for Disposition of Human Remains (Burial Permit) needed?

A:         Each death occurring within the State of California must be registered prior to disposition. A Permit for Disposition of Human Remains (Burial Permit) must be issued for each death at the time of registration for burial or cremation. If cremated remains are divided for placement at more than one location, a Permit for Disposition of Human Remains (Burial Permit) must be issued for each location. In addition, a burial permit is needed for the following: 1. Shipping the remains out of the state or country. 2. Scattering cremains on land or at sea. 3. Deeming the remains for scientific use. 4. Shipping the remains into the State of California. 5. When disinterment is required for moving the remains to another location other than a new location within the same cemetery. 6. When remains are temporarily stored.


Q:         Do I automatically receive a free copy of a decedent's death record?

A:         No. State law requires a fee for all certified copies or record searches with the exception of a copy for the Veteran's Administration, if required, which is sent directly to their office.


Q:         What happens if at the time of registration, my family has not made a decision on the location of final disposition?

A:         If, at the time of registration, a decision on the final location for the remains has not been made, the remains must be placed in temporary storage. A burial permit is needed for temporary storage, even if the temporary storage is at a hospital, mortuary, Public Administrator's facility or the Medical Examiner's facility.


Q:         I am changing location of the remains of a family member. They are presently at my home and I am moving the remains to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. What do I need to do?

A:         On a death that occurred in the State of California and you are changing the location of disposition from what was originally stated on the death certificate, you must submit a Permit for Disposition of Human Remains (Burial Permit), in addition to, an Affidavit to Amend a Record form reflecting the new location of disposition. You may come into our office for the form and we will give you proper and accurate instructions or we will mail one to you. Instructions are on the back of the form. Our office telephone number is (619) 692-5733. If the remains were handled through a local mortuary, the Funeral Director can either submit the paperwork for you, or supply you with the forms.


Q:         What is the fee for a certified copy of a death record?

A:         The fee is $24.00 per certified copy or a record search. If ordering by mail, payment may be check or money order payable to: County of San Diego Public Health Services. PLEASE DO NOT SEND CASH.


Q:         Who may order a certified copy of a death record?

A:         Only those persons who qualify as an "authorized" person (Law Effective July 1, 2003) may order a regular certified copy. Anyone may order an Informational copy.


Q:         How can I order a certified copy of a death record through Vital Records and Statistics and what information is needed to order the record?

A:         You may order additional copies of the death record through the mortuary that handled the disposition, in person at our office or by mail. The application form Application for Certified Copy of Death Record and Sworn Statement and Acknowledgement are on line for your convenience. ALL information is required in order to process your request for certified copies. 


Q:         How long does it take to change a death record by the State after it has been registered?

A:         It can take up to eight weeks for the State Office of Vital Records to process an amended record. It is especially IMPORTANT to be sure all the information you give to the Funeral Director is accurate due to the time involved to process the correction at the State level.


For more information send us an email or phone (619) 692-5733.