Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Obtaining Vital Records in Los Angeles County

Entrance to LA County Recorder's Office
Digital image, Denise Spurlock, 2011.
Birth, marriage and death records for Los Angeles County are housed at the County Recorder’s Office located at 12400 Imperial Highway in Norwalk. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Los Angeles County provides both certified and informational copies of vital records. If you do not meet the requirements for a certified copy, you may request an informational copy. The only difference is that the informational copy is stamped “informational” across the face of the certificate so that it cannot be used to establish identity. For most genealogical purposes, informational copies are adequate.

If you have all the required information (dates, names, etc.) and want to order a copy of a certificate, I recommend using VitalChek; it is easy to use and, in my experience, turnaround time is 10–15 days. I have also found that if you order more than one certificate, you pay the VitalChek fee for only one.

Los Angeles County also permits viewing of vital records and indexes that are not exempt from public inspection from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This can be a great alternative to purchasing an informational certificate; you can make a transcription instead! There is no charge unless you request that the clerk pull more than five records.

Records available for viewing include births prior to 1905 and from 1964–present, deaths from 1877–present, and marriages from 1852–present. Random searches are not permitted; an application must be completed for each record to be searched and identification shown to the clerk. After submitting the application, you will be allowed to search the indexes for the information needed for the clerk to pull the document (certificate number or marriage book/page). There are restrictions on use of the information; these are listed on the application.

Before placing an order for a certificate or visiting the Recorder’s Office, be sure to review the information posted on the agency’s website for hours of operation, applicable fees, restrictions, etc.

Happy searching!

© 2012 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

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