Birth records date back to as early as 1824, though records that old are limited to the areas around Monterey County. As of 1905, the state began keeping records so the majority of certificates that can be found will be after that year.
There are 2 different kinds of California birth records: authorized and informational. You can only get an authorized birth record if you are the person on the certificate yourself, or an immediate relative (parent, grandparent, child, spouse or sibling). To get this kind of copy, you will need a notarized statement proving your identity. The statement you need to have signed and notarized is part of the application form.
Anyone can get an informational copy, which will say "not a valid document for identity" across the front. Either way, they are both considered to be certified copies and they both contain the same information. There does not seem to be a time period where privacy is an issue as it is in many other states. Your access to copies of California birth records isn't restricted to when the births took place.
You can either make an application directly to the California Department of Public Health or to the county office where the birth took place. The CDPH has a list of county recorders offices on their Vital Records website (http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/birthdeathmar/Pages/CountyRecorderOffice.aspx). If you apply at the main office, you will wait up to 10 weeks if the date of birth is from 1905 until 1981. More recent birth records usually take just 2 weeks. You can often get faster results if you put your request to the county office instead.
For applications to the main office, you will have to send your application form to the California Department of Public Health, Vital Records MS 5103, PO Box 997410 Sacramento CA, 95899-7410 USA. You can get a copy of the multi-page application form at the CDPH website (http://www.cdph.ca.gov) and search for birth records.
Along with the application, you need to include the search fee and a notarized statement (if you are requesting an authorized copy). The current fee for a California birth record is $16. You can make your checks out to the Office of Vital Records. To identify the person you are searching for, you should be able to supply their full name, parent's names, date and place of birth to the best of your knowledge.
Several genealogy websites have access to indexes of California birth records but not the content of the records themselves. Basically, you can search for people to see if a record exists before you apply for a proper copy. This is a good idea as you will not get your fee returned if it turns out there is no record for the person you are searching for.
Not all counties recorded the same information with each birth record. Some can be quite sparse. You will get the name, sex and race of the child as well as their parent's names. Doctor's name and place of birth are usually also included. There isn't often much more than that.
To order a copy of your California birth certificate, you will need to:
Download the California Birth Certificate form and complete it.
Have a sworn statement notarized if you are requesting an authorized copy. If you are requesting an informational copy, make sure that the appropriate box is checked or your request will not be filled.
Return the statement and application to the Office of Vital Records, along with a check or money order for the $14 fee.
If you need more information on accessing California birth records, you can contact the office below:
California Department of Public Health
Office of Vital Records – MS 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410
How to Obtain a Copy of California Birth Records
California birth records can be accessed through the California Department of Health. The Department of Health provides two different types of records: authorized copies which can only be obtained by the person listed on the record and select others and informational copies which can be obtained by all other requesters.
How to Request Birth Certificates
To request California birth records, you will need to contact the California Office of Vital Records. Complete the downloadable form and return with a notarized sworn statement and appropriate fee.
Restrictions to Accessing Birth Records
Because authorized copies of California birth records are not part of the public record, the birth records can only be accessed by certain individuals. You must be the person listed on the certificate, the parent or legal guardian, other immediate relative, or someone with legal authority to access the birth record.