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State law requires the Coroner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner and cause of certain deaths, including any suspected homicide, suicide, accidental death, natural death where no physician is available to sign a death certificate, or the physician is unwilling or prohibited from doing so. A forensic pathologist performs all exams.

In November of 2019, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office received accreditation by the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.

Frequently asked questions:

Why is the Sheriff’s Office involved in the death of my loved one?
There are legal requirements that require the Coroner to investigate certain types of deaths. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the Coroner to positively identify the decedent, determine the circumstances of death, including the cause and manner of death.

Where is my loved one being taken?
Your loved one will be taken to the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Facility, until he or she can be released to the mortuary of your choice.

What do I do now?
Contact a funeral home or cremation service of your choice. Consider asking for advice and assistance from friends or family. You may select a funeral home in a different city or county if desired.

Is an autopsy always performed?
No. Under certain circumstances the pathologist may complete an external examination of the body.

Can I view the decedent at the Coroner’s Office?
Please plan to view the body at the mortuary.

How can I recover personal property belonging to my loved one?
Legal next of kin can make an appointment to meet at the Coroner’s Office or collect property from the funeral home. The legal order for next of kin is: spouse, adult child, parent, brother or sister.

How do I obtain a death certificate?
The Coroner’s Office does not issue death certificates. Certified copies of death certificates are available through your funeral home or from County Vital Records at (831) 763-8430. A pending death certificate is sometimes issued when the Coroner is unable to determine the definitive cause and/or manner of death on the death certificate immediately following our examination; additional tests or investigation is sometimes necessary. In some cases, the final death certificate may be delayed for several weeks. In most cases, this will not delay release of the body for burial or cremation. A pending death certificate may be used as proof of death for most purposes.


Generally, releases occur Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, between the hours of 8:30 am to 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Please call ahead to ensure someone will be available to meet you.

The Santa Cruz Coroner Request for Release of Remains form must be signed by next of kin prior to release. If property is to be released to the mortuary representative, a secondary Property Release form must be signed by next of kin. The signed forms may be faxed or emailed prior to arrival.

Death certificates will not be transferred until after release. Reportable deaths requiring a record number will not be reviewed until the death certificate has been medically attested and accepted in EDRS.


2018 Annual Data Sheet


  • Santa Cruz County Coroner 831.454.7790
  • Santa Cruz County Coroner fax 831.454.7799
  • Death Certificates-Recorder's Office 831.454.2800
  • Victim Assistance-District Attorney 831.454.2400
  • Public Administrator-District Attorney 831.454.3532
  • A Coroner Investigator is available during business hours at 831.454.7790. If you have an emergency, please call 911.