Delayed Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates
This guide does not cover adding or changing names and information on birth, death, or marriage certificates. It does not cover situations where no marriage certificate was ever issued, only where the certificate was never filed at the time of the event.
For information on adding or changing names on a certificate, visit the Department of Public Health’s website at:
Births, marriages, and deaths are recorded by the Office of Vital Statistics, and evidenced by an official certificate. Occasionally, these certificates are not submitted promptly, or are destroyed or unavailable. If so, any “beneficially interested” party can register it by using the appropriate Court Order Delayed Certificate. (California Health and Safety Code (H&S) §§103450-103490.)
The party must first file a court Petition to establish the fact of birth, marriage, or death, then submit either Order Establishing Fact of Birth (Form VS-108), Order Establishing Fact of Marriage (Form VS-122), or Order Establishing Fact of Death (Form VS-109) to the California Office of Vital Statistics.
This step-by-step guide details how to get a Court Order Delayed Certificate of birth, marriage or death in California. The forms and steps are almost identical, so this step-by-step guide addresses all three situations.
- Fill out Order Establishing Fact of Birth (Form VS-108), Order Establishing Fact of Marriage (Form VS-122), or Order Establishing Fact of Death (Form VS-109), as appropriate.
- Gather documents and affidavits to prove the date and place of the birth, marriage, or death.
- File the appropriate Petition and Declaration in court along with the filing fee.
- Attend a court hearing, where you will present the court with a completed Form VS-108, VS-122, or VS-109 and your documents and affidavits.
- Mail a certified copy of the signed Order (the top half of VS-108, VS-122, or VS-109) and the new certificate (the bottom half of the VS form) to the California Office of Vital Records. The form will be processed in approximately three months.
Fill out the Vital Statistics form
- Fill out the appropriate form from the California Department of Public Health:
- Court Order Delayed Registration of Birth (Form VS-108)
- Court Ordered Delayed Certificate of Marriage (Form VS-122)
- Order Establishing Fact of Death (Form VS-109)
You can download the fillable form from the above links or pick up the form from the County Recorder’s Office. You must type or write in black ink, with no eraser marks or corrections.
The Department of Public Health offers detailed packets on completing these forms.
Gather evidence to prove the event
Gather evidence that proves the date and place of the birth, marriage, or death. Ask marriage witnesses, physicians, or others with personal knowledge of the event to sign Declarations under penalty of perjury, using the Judicial Council form for Declaration in Support of Petition to Establish Fact, Time, and Place of Birth (BMD-001A), Marriage (BMD-002A), or Death (BMD-003A).
Types of evidence that may be useful include:
- A copy of the marriage license, or of the birth, marriage, or death certificate, if available.
- Declarations under penalty of perjury from witnesses, physicians, officiants (clergy or judge), and relatives or close family friends about the date and place of the event. Attach as many as you need. They can be typed or written on the standard form Declaration (MC-030). Additional pages can be typed or written using Additional Page (MC-020).
- Evidence of entry in family bible, other family books or charts, or the like.
- Evidence of statement in church record concerning christening, marriage, or interment.
- For birth: request an age search from the United States Census Bureau Age Search Service.
Complete the necessary forms
Do you need to notify anyone of the hearing?
If you plan to use this order in another case, such as a probate or family law case, research your situation or hire a lawyer to determine if other parties need to be notified. The judge in the other case might not let you use the order if the parties didn’t receive notice in time to object.
The Petition must include:
- The place and date of the birth, marriage, or death.
- How you will benefit from establishing the fact of the birth, marriage, or death.
- A statement signed by you under penalty of perjury to verify all of the information in your Petition.
- Declarations confirming the place and date of the birth, marriage, or death or a copy of the birth, marriage, or death certificate, if you have one.
Sample filled-in forms for the Petition and Declaration to establish marriage are attached to the end of this guide; the forms for establishing birth and death are almost identical.
File your documents
File the original and two copies of your Petition to Establish Fact, Time, and Place of birth, marriage, or death, as appropriate. (Keep a copy for yourself, as well.)
The Petition must be filed in the Superior Court in either the county of residence of the person whose birth, marriage, or death is being established, or in the county where the birth, marriage, or death took place. In Sacramento County, file it in the Probate Department at the Family Relations Courthouse, 3341 Power Inn Road, Sacramento, CA 95826.
There will be a filing fee for the Petition. As of August 2023, the fee is $225. Current fees can be found on the Sacramento County Court Fee Schedule. If you are low income or receive government benefits, you may qualify for a fee waiver. See our Fee Waiver guide for more information: Fee Waivers.
When you file the Petition, the clerk will write a hearing date and time on your Petition. It will usually be between five and ten days after you file the Petition.
Attend the hearing
Attend the court hearing. Bring the filled-out VS-108, VS-122, or VS-109, along with any documents you have that support the date and place of the birth, marriage, or death. When the judge calls your case, walk to the counsel table and give the clerk your completed Order and documents. If satisfied, the judge will sign the Order.
After the hearing, take the signed Order to the Probate Department and file it. While you are there, you should purchase at least one extra, certified copy of your Order.
Mail your court-approved forms to California Office of Vital Records
(1) a certified copy of the Order (the top half of VS-108, VS-122, or VS-109); (2) the new certificate (the bottom half of VS-108, VS-122, or VS-109); and (3) a $26 check or money order payable to CDPH Vital Records to:
California Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410
For additional copies, add $29 for a Birth Certificate, $24 for a Death Certificate, or $17 for a Marriage Certificate.
You can expect an acknowledgement postcard in about six to ten weeks. The entire processing time is about three months.
The Department of Public Health offers detailed packets on completing this process at Delayed or Court Order Delayed Vital Events. If you have questions after reading the applicable packet, call the Department of Public Health at (916) 557-6078 and leave your name, telephone number, and question. After the three-month processing time, you can call the Department of Public Health at (916) 445-2684 to check on your request.
For more Information
California Forms of Pleading and Practice, KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
- “Marriage,” Chap. 359, Sections 114, 270-271
- “Birth and Death,” Chap. 99.
Electronic Access: On the Law Library’s computers, using Lexis Advance.
Sample Filled-Out Forms
In addition, the California Department of Public Heath offers
This material is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance consult a lawyer.