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 —
- Request the document by mail and wait up to 18 months for it to arrive.
- Request by VitalChek and pay the extra fee. I don’t know the turn-around time for this service.
- 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.