California Public Records

California’s freedom of information law is called the California Public Records Act. Though referred to as a single act, it is actually a series of laws that are designed to ensure access to public records. The Act is codified as California Public Records Act, California Government Code § 6250-6268. It requires the release of all public records, but exempts purely personal information. Generally, the Act does not regulate how the public information, once obtained, can be used. It does, however, contain certain exemptions for information that include, but are not limited to: law enforcement investigations, litigation, personal privacy information, and proprietary business data.


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Public & Vital Records for Counties in California

More About California

California, the third-largest state in the United States, and the most populated of all the states, is located on the West coast of the county. It has a population of over 39,000,000 people and the largest economy of any state in the United States. It is home to the nation’s second largest city, Los Angeles, and its fifth-largest city, San Francisco. California is considered a world leader in the entertainment, music, technology, aerospace, and engineering fields, as well as a leading center of agricultural production. California has a number of residents who have come from other areas of the United States, as well as a large immigrant population. This is important to keep in mind when conducting public records searches in California; they generally will not contain information prior to a person’s arrival in California.


Public Records in CA

The State of California does not have a single type of public record or a single public record repository. Instead, California public records can be divided into three types: criminal records, vital statistics, and property records.

Property Records

As the name suggests, property records are records that detail things about property. Deeds are property records, but so are other records that impact ownership or title, including tax records, land records, and any liens. In California, property records are maintained by county-level government

Land Records

California land records fall into multiple categories: property tax records, which indicate the owner of a parcel of land, any assessments on the land, and whether property taxes are current; deed records, which indicate ownership, transfers, and liens; property sales listings and characteristics; maps of property; and historical Tax Collector information.

Property Tax Records

Property tax records are available through the office of the County Assessor or Recorder in which the property is located.

Deed Records

Deeds are recorded at a county level and are held in the county where the land is located. In California, deeds are maintained by the Office of the County Recorder. To search for deed records in California, one can look at county clerk records or records from the Office of the County Recorder. The clerk holds the records that the recorder obtains.


CA Vital Records

Vital statistics include basic personal information that helps the state keep track of people. Birth and death records are the two most basic types of vital statistics, but California also considers marriage and divorce records to be vital statistics.

Birth Records

For the state of California, birth certificates are handled by the California Department of Public Health.

Death Records

In California, the California Department of Public Health handles death certificates.

Marriage Records

Although some states handle their marriage records through county clerk offices, in California the California Department of Public Health maintains a central marriage registry.

Divorce Records

There are two types of divorce records. The actual divorce decree is filed with the County Clerk of the county in which the divorce took place, and is needed if seeking details about the divorce. The California Department of Public Health also maintains divorce records.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


Learn about California criminal records or read about public records in another state from the list below: