Skip Navigation LinksData Types and Limitations

Vital records data and statistics

California Cancer Registry (CCR)
Researchers may apply to receive death record data linked to the CCR.  For information related to the CCR contact

Data Types and  Limitations

To receive announcements when new CDPH Vital Records data files become available please subscribe to the Vital Records Data e-mail LISTSERV at the following link:

For information regarding the availability of data and the data request process, see the Vital Statistics Request Guide.

Data Limitations

Vital Statistics data is derived from the registration process and includes confidential and non-confidential identifiers, demographic information, and medical/health data from the certificate.  The information on the certificates are provided by informants and clinicians; accuracy and completeness is dependent on the reporting parties. Vital Statistics data may not be accurate or complete due to a variety of circumstances, including amendments to the legal records that may have been filed after the production of the data files. Data files are not legal records and should not be used as substitutes for the legal records from which they were derived.

Vital Records Data Available from CDC WONDER

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (CDC WONDER) is a web-based resource that provides state and county level vital statistic data for births, deaths, and infant mortality. CDC WONDER may serve as an alternative resource for data inquiries. The Vital Records Data Available from CDC WONDER chart (PDF) summarizes common data query capabilities from CDC WONDER.

Vital Records Data Applications

 Applications differ based on your affiliation with an entity and the use of the data. For more information regarding Data Applications and Data Dictionaires please go to the Data Applications and Data Dictionaries webpage.

Vital Records Data File Types:

Birth Data Files

The birth files include all state registered births, and births to California residents that occurred out-of-state.  These files contain detailed demographic information related to the child, mother, and father, as well as medical data related to the birth.  CPHS and VSAC approvals are required to obtain the confidential data fields.  In addition, Public Use and Anti-Fraud data files are available.

For information about the data sources available for request, please see the Birth Data Sources Comparison Chart (PDF).

Birth Cohort Data Files ​​ ​​

The birth cohort files contain data for all live births and the infants who died in the first year of life (linked to the birth). Fetal death data is only included in years 2004-2011.  CPHS and the VSAC approvals are required to obtain the confidential data fields.    

Death Data Files

The death files are available with in-state California deaths only, a combination of in-state deaths and deaths of California residents that occurred in other states or jurisdictions, or out-of-state deaths only.  CPHS and the VSAC approvals may be required to obtain the death files. In addition, Public Use and Anti-Fraud data files are available. 

For information (including the years available, data format, data contents and limitations)  on the four California Death Data sources available to be requested; the Death Statistical Master File (DSMF), the California Comprehensive Death File (CCDF), the California Comprehensive Master Death File (CCMDF), and the out-of-state File (OOS) please see the Death Data Sources Comparison Chart (PDF).

For further information about the DSMF, CCDF, CCMDF, the OOS death file, or the availability of other vital statistics data files, please contact the Health Information and Research Section at

Fetal Death Data Files  

The fetal death files contain data obtained from fetal death certificates registered in California each year.  These files contain demographic information related to the fetus, mother, and father, as well as medical data related to the fetal death.  The medical data includes the underlying cause of the fetal death.  CPHS and VSAC approvals are required to obtain the confidential data fields.  Fetal death files do not include induced abortion data.

​​Multiple Causes of Death Data Files (MCOD)

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) codes all causes of death according to the International Classification of Diseases, version 10 for Mortality (ICD-10) using the literal text from the death certificate.

NCHS produces a California customized MCOD file which is generally made available 12-18 months after the close of the calendar year. This file includes entity-axis, record-axis codes, group cause of death codes, infant group cause of death codes, positional information, and race/ethnicity codes.

Effective 2016, the entity-axis codes and record-axis codes data are available in the CCDF and CCMDF data files; sequence number 201-240.

Contact Information

Please contact the Health Information and Research Section (HIRS) at for more information related to data. ​
Page Last Updated :