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Frequently Asked Questions – General

We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, excluding holidays. Please arrive no later than 4:00pm when conducting your business, same day service is not guaranteed. Transactions must be completed by 4:30 p.m.
Our phone number is (805) 568-2250 and our fax is (805) 568-2266.
Please visit our Contact Us page for a list of locations and mailing information.
Our email address is Clk-RecHelpDesk@co.santa-barbara.ca.us
We no longer accept passport applications. For more information on how to obtain a passport please visit your local post office or the USPS website .
In Santa Barbara passports are processed at the following post office:
US Postal Service
836 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 961-0748

You can also visit the U.S. Department of State Passport Information website .

The Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder is a different office than the Clerk of the Court. We do not handle divorce records. Divorce records are maintained by the Superior Court.

Visit the Superior Court website for more information or call the Santa Barbara location at (805) 882-4520 or Santa Maria at (805) 614-6414.

The Recorder's Office is prohibited by law from providing you with legal advice. We can only provide you with the recording requirements for a recordable document. We recommend you contact a legal advisor for assistance when preparing documents to be recorded.
We do not provide notary public services in either of our offices.
We do not have a list of foreclosures. You may search our index by document title using our Real Estate Records Index . Images of the recorded documents are available on our lobby kiosks only. We also maintain a paper list in both of our lobbies. This list is not for purchase but can be viewed by the public.
Yes, we accept Visa, MasterCard or Discover. We do not accept American Express. For documents or copy orders sent by mail or fax a completed Credit Card Authorization form is required.

Frequently Asked Questions – Real Estate Records

General

You should have received your deed at the time you purchased the property. When you pay off the loan on your property, the lender should record a release document (a Reconveyance or a Release of Mortgage) with the County Recorder. You may want to search the Real Estate Records Index to see whether a release has been recorded.
The County Recorder did not file a lien against you; we are only responsible for recording liens that are submitted which meet recording requirements. All questions regarding the lien, including how to have it released, should be directed to the creditor or party filing the lien.
A parent to child transfer itself is not exempt from transfer tax. Please review the list of exemptions to documentary Transfer Tax.
You can order a copy in person, by mail, or fax. Please visit our Copy Order page for more information.
We do not have a list of foreclosures. You may search our index by document title using our Real Estate Records Index . Images of the recorded documents are available on our lobby kiosks only. We also maintain a paper list in each of our lobbies. This list is not for purchase but can be viewed by the public.

Recording

You may bring in the document in person to one of our two Santa Barbara county locations:
  • Santa Barbara: 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara 93101
  • Santa Maria: 511 E Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria 93455 (Government Center)

Or send by mail

USPS First Class Mail:
Santa Barbara Clerk Recorder
P.O. Box 159
Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Express or Courier Service Mail:
Santa Barbara Clerk Recorder
Hall of Records
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Visit our Document Recording page for more information.
Any document affecting title to real property that is authorized or required by law to be recorded. This includes, but is not limited to, Grant Deeds, Deeds of Trust, Mechanic's Liens, Tax Liens, and Reconveyances. The recording requirements for documents are established by the codes for the State of California. Documents presented for recording must meet certain basic requirements and be recorded in the county where the real property is located. Recorded documents become part of the public record. The Recorder has a reasonable time to record documents. Although most documents record at the time of presentation, more complex documents may require more research which could require a few days.
Wills are not recorded in California. Wills can be lodged in the Superior Court .

Document Preparation

Recorder staff cannot prepare the document or provide the necessary forms for doing so; nor can they offer legal advice or assistance in filling out or completing the document. We recommend that you contact a legal advisor for assistance in preparing your document.
We do not provide notary public services in either of our offices.
In order to change title, you will likely need to have a new document prepared and recorded. The Santa Barbara County Recorder does not provide forms for recording.

We recommend that you seek legal advice/assistance from an attorney or a professional document preparation service before filling out documents that affect the ownership of your property. Members of the Santa Barbara County Recorder's Office are forbidden by California legal codes to practice law or provide legal advice; this prohibition includes giving advice about what forms you might need or how you should fill them out.

Change in Ownership - Legal Advice Notice (PDF)

Your document may require an accompanying completed Preliminary Change of Ownership Report in order to be accepted for recording.

Frequently Asked Questions – Vital Records

General

Certified Informational copies will be imprinted with "INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY" across the face of the copy.

For more information please see our page regarding Who Can Request Copies.

Our office does not accept online applications or requests through third party sites.

For more information on how to order copies please see the following pages:
Application Method Processing Time
In Person Same Day to 1 Business Day
By Mail 1 to 10 Business Days
By Fax 1 to 3 Business Days
If you are not able to come in person, the fastest method of requesting a record is to fax your request.
No. All certificates must either be picked up in-person or delivered by mail. Please note, our staff does not perform searches or provide information regarding a record over the phone or via email. For more information, please visit our pages on how to request:
If you request USPS Express shipping, our office may provide you with a tracking number upon request which can be used to track your shipment through the United States Post Office We are not able to provide tracking information for requests sent USPS First Class.
A completed application is required for all requests. There are additional requirements for requesting authorized copies of a record:

If you are requesting authorized copies in person, you should be prepared to show valid government issued identification.

If you are submitting your order for authorized copies by mail or fax, please complete the sworn statement portion of the application in the presence of a notary public. The notary public must also complete the Certificate of Acknowledgment portion of the application, verifying the identity of the applicant.

Extended family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews are not able to obtain authorized copies of a certificate. For more information please see Who Can Request Copies?
The Verification costs $14.00 and may be requested in person at any of our office locations or by mail. If you are sending your Verification request by mail, please include a $2.00 fee for first class mailing. Checks should be made payable to Santa Barbara Clerk-Recorder.

Amendments (Changes to Vital Records)

Amendments to Birth and Death Certificates are handled by the California Department of Public Health. For more information, you may visit their website: CDPH - Correcting or Amending Vital Records
If you are interested in making a change to your name as part of the marriage process, please see our page on name changes.

If you are interested in a court ordered name change, information can be found on the Santa Barbara Superior Court website.

If you would like to correct or amend a name on a birth, death, or marriage certificate, please visit the California Department of Public Health's page on Correcting or Amending Vital Records .

Court ordered name changes are handled by the Santa Barbara Superior Court. Please see their website for additional information: Name Changes

Available Records

Divorce records for divorces finalized in Santa Barbara County can be requested from Superior Court .
We can only issue copies of birth and death certificates if the birth or death occurred in Santa Barbara County. We only issue copies of marriage certificates if the marriage license was issued in Santa Barbara County. Keep in mind that the county in which the license was issued may be different from the county where the marriage ceremony took place..
Make the request in the adopted name and list the adoptive parent(s) in the appropriate fields. If you are requesting a copy of the original birth certificate, you must provide a court order releasing the original sealed record.

Please note, the record should be requested from the county in which the birth took place, not the county where the adoption occurred. If you are unsure of the location of birth, the request can be made through the California Department of Public Health .

For more information, please see our page on Birth Certificates.

International Orders

Frequently Asked Questions - Marriages

Licenses

  • Regular (Public) License - $100
  • Confidential License - $111
There is no blood test requirement for a marriage license in the State of California.
You do not need to present a birth certificate to obtain a marriage license, only a valid government issued photo ID.
Both parties are required to appear together in person to purchase the marriage license.
You may not use a California marriage license in another state. Marriage licenses issued in California are only valid within this state.
Your marriage license expires 90 calendar days from the date it was issued by the Clerk-Recorder's Office. You may use the license on the expiration date. If the license expires before a ceremony is performed, you must purchase a new license. There is no grace period or extension available.
If you are under the age of 18, you must present a certified copy of the court order granting you permission to obtain a marriage license. Emancipated minors are not exempt from this requirement. Minors may only apply for a regular (public) marriage license. For more information contact the Family Law Division of Superior Court.
Only unmarried couples can apply for and purchase a marriage license. If your marriage license was issued in Santa Barbara County and you would like to purchase a copy of the certificate, please visit our Marriage copy order page.
If the marriage license is lost before the wedding ceremony is performed, then you must purchase a new marriage license.

If the license is lost after the ceremony, but before it is registered with the Clerk-Recorder's Office, then the person solemnizing the marriage (officiant) must apply for and purchase a duplicate marriage license for $56.

If you notice a mistake on your license before your ceremony, you may choose to purchase a brand new license for the applicable fee.

If you see a mistake on your license after your ceremony, you may file an amendment for a public marriage license at the Clerk-Recorder's Office or the California State Department of Vital Records . You can use an amendment to correct erroneous information only.

Amendments for confidential marriage records are processed at the Clerk-Recorder's Office only and are subject to a $50 fee.

  • Regular (Public) License - $100
    • Is a public record and anyone may obtain a copy
    • At least one witness is required for the ceremony
  • Confidential License - $111
    • Parties must be living together as spouses
    • Both parties must be at least 18 years old
    • No witness is required
    • Copies of the record are not available to the public
    • Certified copies may only be issued to one of the parties to the marriage or upon court order

Ceremonies

Ceremonies are performed by appointment only during regular business hours, Monday-Friday. Please refer to our hours for more information.
Our staff cannot confirm available appointments or take payment over the phone, nor can we accept the request form and payment via email. If you submit your request and your first or second choice are not available, we will contact you via email with alternate dates and times.
Once your license is recorded, you do not automatically receive a certified copy of your certificate. You may submit your request for copies in person, by mail, or by fax. Please refer to our Vitals Page for more information on requesting copies.

Please note that it takes approximately 2-3 weeks to record the marriage license once it is received from the officiant.

Marriages in other countries are legally binding, provided all requirements for marriage within that country are met. If you were married in another country and met all legal requirements for marriage, your marriage is still valid in the State of California. If you not sure if all legal requirements were met we recommend you seek legal advice.

Our staff cannot provide legal advice per California Government Code Section 24004 and California Business & Professions Code Section 6125 expressly prohibit the County Clerk-Recorder and his deputies from the practice of law.The California Supreme Court has defined "the practice of law" to include legal advice and the preparation of legal instruments. (Baron v. Los Angeles (1970) 2 Cal.3d 535, 542-543.)

Officiants

Unfortunately, our office cannot make recommendations for officiants within the area. However, if you have difficulty finding an ordained officiant, you may wish to have a friend or family member deputized as a Civil Marriage Commissioner for a Day.
Yes, you may perform a marriage ceremony in California as long as you meet the requirements defined in Family Code Section 400 . We do not require proof of your ordination.
Yes, online ordinations are acceptable provided you meet the requirements defined in Family Code Section 400 .
For more FAQ's visit the California Department of Public Health's FAQs by Marriage Officiants

Name Changes

You will be responsible for changing your name after marriage on all of your legal documents. The marriage certificate is used by multiple local, state, federal and private agencies, each of which has different requirements regarding which documents are acceptable to change your name on their records following marriage. Please contact these agencies to verify their requirements prior to applying for a marriage license.

If you did not opt to change your middle or last name at the time you purchased the license and you have not had a marriage ceremony performed, you may choose to purchase a brand new license for the applicable fee.

If you did not opt to change your name and you have already had your marriage ceremony, you may wish to seek legal advice or speak to the Clerk of Superior Court regarding legal name change processes.

Our staff cannot provide legal advice per California Government Code Section 24004 and California Business & Professions Code Section 6125 expressly prohibit the County Clerk-Recorder and his deputies from the practice of law. The California Supreme Court has defined "the practice of law" to include legal advice and the preparation of legal instruments. (Baron v. Los Angeles (1970) 2 Cal.3d 535, 542-543.)

Frequently Asked Questions – Fictitious Business Name

General

No, it does not reserve the name for your exclusive use. The filing is for consumer protection, and is a requirement under law. Applicants are responsible for verifying that the business name used is unique. The applicant is also responsible for verifying that the name does not violate any trademark protocols. The County Clerk's Office cannot refuse to file a fictitious business name statement because the name is already being used by someone else.

For more information regarding trademarks visit the US Patent and Trademark Office website

Fictitious business names that have been filed in Santa Barbara County can be searched using our online Fictitious Business Name Search .
It is the same thing. A fictitious business name is just another name for doing business as.
For information about requesting FBN Copy orders please visit our FBN Copy Order page.
Non-profit corporations/associations/organizations are not required to file ( BPC 17911 ). For more information, please seek legal advice.
A fictitious business name statement shall be filed with the clerk of the county in which the registrant has his or her principal place of business in this state. This does not preclude a person from filing a fictitious business name statement in a county other than that where the principal place of business is located. If the business is out of state, you must file with Sacramento County.
No. A Fictitious Business Name statement is valid for 5 years from the date of filing as long as all publication requirements have been met.
The address must be a physical address. It cannot be a PO Box or PMB. For mobile businesses, this is often where the books are kept. It is acceptable for the business address to be your home address.
The Santa Barbara County Clerk does not issue business licenses. Please see the business license page for further information on business licenses.

Publishing

The Fictitious Business Name must be published, by the registrant, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the principal place of business is located within 30 days after filing.

The first publication must appear in the paper within the 30th day after filing. Newspapers require lead-time before publication, and it is your responsibility to meet the newspaper deadline so that publication occurs in time. If you miss the publishing deadline, you must re-file with us, paying all fees again.

Publication requirements are once a week for four successive weeks. Our Publishing page shows newspapers that circulate in the area the business is to be conducted.

An affidavit showing the publication of the statement must be filed with us within 30 days after completion of publication.

No. You are only required to publish in one newspaper.

Renewals

You must complete a new FBN statement. Visit our Renewal Filing page for further information on renewing a fictitious business name statement.
Fictitious Business Names can be searched online using our Fictitious Business Name Search . If you need a copy of your previous filing please visit our FBN Copy Order page for instructions and forms.

Changes/Transfers/Abandonments

The statement of Abandonment or Withdrawal shall be executed in the same manner as a fictitious business name statement and shall be filing in the same county the original FBN statement was filed and published in the same manner This can only be filed for an active FBN statement. For further information visit our Abandonment or Withdrawal Filing page.
A change to the information on a Fictitious Business Name statement would require a new filing and republishing in the newspaper.
A fictitious business name statement cannot be transferred. An active statement can be abandoned by the owner listed on the FBN statement and a new filing can be completed the new owner. Visit our Abandonment or Withdrawal page for further information on abandoning fictitious business name statement.