New California (USA) System for Redacting Information on Birth and Death Records

A new California system, Vital Records Image Redaction and Statewide Access (VRIRSA) started in April 2009 requiring redaction of Social Security numbers, any signatures or sensitive health information from informational copies of birth and death records. The system was mandated by legislation enacted in 2002 which authorized informational certificates and established a committee to make recommendations on protecting individual privacy, inhibiting identity theft, and preventing fraud involving birth and death certificates while providing needed access to birth and death record information to those seeking it for legitimate purposes. Those recommendations led to the new, automated system that redacts certain data from birth and death records. At this time marriage records are not included, but if AB 130 passes it is conceivable that marriage records willbe included in the system.

The new system requires anyone requesting an informational copy from the state/local /county registrar, that the registrar request the redacted copy from the state California Department of Public Health, which is the responsible agency for the system. The certificate is then automatically redacted for the specific data (Social Security number, any signatures, or sensitive health information) contained in the certificate and sent to the local/county registrar for printing and submitting to the requester.

The purpose of VRIRSA is a single state-wide system for accessing redacted records. At present, the VRIRSA system fulfills public requests for informational copies of birth certificates from 1985 to present, and for death certificates from 1996 forward. As additional birth and death records are converted to computerized images over the next several years, more informational copy requests will be handled by VRIRSA. The state is in the process of digitizing all back records and will announce the release of the records as soon as they are available in VRIRSA. The records are being processed in yearly batches and will be released on flow basis.

From theFAQs listed on the site, it says manual redaction is not required for records that predate the range of records currently in VRIRSA. However, informational copies must still contain the legend "INFORMATIONAL, NOT AVALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY."

If you are interested in reading more on VRIRSA, go to:

Jan Meisels Allen
Director, IAJGS and
Chairperson, Public Records Access Monitoring Committee


  1. Identity thieves utilize various strategies to victimize you. Stolen wallets and physical documents accounted for 43% of all identity theft.

  2. Document Redaction is becoming ever more important with organizations having to publicly release information whilst at the same time being able to keep sensitive information private. Being able to release documents with certainty that information marked for redaction is permanently removed has become paramount.

    There have been cases where supposedly redacted documents have been made public and sensitive information has been extracted from the documents. Redaction errors are usually attributed to insufficient methods and the lack of information provided to users in regard to document security.

    There are a number of specifically designed software solutions available which make redacting documents a streamlined process and eliminate common mistakes associated with out-dated redaction methods. Once such product is RapidRedact, the website ( provides a plethora of information about redaction and a software demonstration.

  3. Hello. I'm a new member here thinking that maybe someone here can help. The setting of the last and most important section of a book I’m writing for 11-16 year-olds is Elisavetgrad in Belarus (in the Ukraine) on the day of the pogrom in May of 1881. I have myriad information on shtetlach life, Russia, history, the Pale, and even the names of a number families who lived there; I lack one thing: At least one eye-witness account of the what happened to whom and when during the Elisavetgrad pogrom. As I'd like to finish the project before I start teaching in the fall, a speedy reply would be very helpful. I can be contacted at . Thank you. Andrea Eller

  4. P.S. I forgot to mention the names of the families in Elisavetgrad, names I got from this website:



Comments are welcome. Please post responsibly.