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    « A Rather Boring Death (Certificate) | Main | Why Save Old Negatives? »
    Friday
    Sep212012

    Obtaining a Vital Record for Los Angeles Genealogy

    LA Co Recorder

    Last week I dutifully drove to the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk to order a death certificate for my great-grandfather Eliphaz B. Kinsel. My helpful D.A.R. genealogist urged me to add it to my application documents, and clued me in on the fast-track to L.A. vital records.

    Obtaining a birth, marriage, or death certificate in Los Angeles County requires a certain amount of stamina. The documents are held by the L.A. County Recorder Offices and regulations for access varies.

    One has several choices --

    1. Request the document by mail and wait up to 18 months for it to arrive.
    2. Request by VitalChek and pay the extra fee. I don't know the turn-around time for this service.
    3. Order the document in person at one of the L.A. County Recorder offices. Older documents are mailed within 20 working days. Some records can be viewed at no charge.

    My closest option would have been the East Los Angeles facility, (7.7 miles / 21 minutes by city streets), but my D.A.R. friend suggested the Norwalk office (22 miles / 21 minutes by freeway). If you know L.A., this makes perfectly good sense. 

    I left Pasadena after rush hour, and made the drive in about 20 minutes. There was a large FREE parking lot adjacent to the building. I noticed that the lot was patrolled by uniformed guards. I also noticed a variety of hecklers, protestors, and yelling people on the walkways and grounds. 

    The vital records request service is located in the foyer. To order a record, you walk directly to one of about 20 computer terminals, enter the information you need, and swipe your drivers' license. A machine prints out your receipt. 

    I dutifully filled out the computer request, and went to the que to wait for a cashier. The Recorder's Office is a busy place midweek, but the facility is set up to accommodate the traffic. In a short time, I paid $14 per record and was on my way home to wait for the documents to arrive.

    Exactly one week later, a certified photocopy of E.B.'s death certificate arrived in the mail. My time to drive to Norwalk and request the document was about one hour, well worth the expedited delivery. 

    Next: What I learned from E.B.'s death certificate.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Good information to know.

    I used VitalChek five years ago to get a copy of my parent's marriage certificate for my dad after my mom passed away. He needed to have it for Social Security. As I recall, I ordered the certificate on a Monday and received it on Saturday. It's definitely a good service if you need something quickly, but I wouldn't want to spend the extra money for their fee on top of the cost of the certificate all the time.

    September 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinger James

    Thanks! I didn't know how the ordering process works. For my own research, since I live locally and have never needed a certified copy, I just go through the lobby to the elevators, and go down to the basement office. After filling out a form and showing ID, I search the bound indexes or computer indexes (depends on year basically), add the Certificate # to my form, and the staff brings me back the certificate. Then, I just extract the info; photo or photocopying is not permitted. It's quick and free! The staff are extremely nice, patient, and helpful.

    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMHD

    Thanks MHD for the info on how to view records. I read that the service was available, but since I needed actual copies, I had to go through the ordering process. It's too bad you can't make your own photo or photocopy when you view records; that would save some time and $.

    September 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    Thanks MHD for the info on how to view records. I read that the service was available, but since I needed actual copies, I had to go through the ordering process. It's too bad you can't make your own photo or photocopy when you view records; that would save some time and $.

    September 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

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