Capitol Alert

Paper chase causes shortage of California birth, death certificates

Davida Gomez applies for birth certificates at the Sacramento County Clerk-Recorder’s Office last month. Paper for such documents is in short supply in California.
Davida Gomez applies for birth certificates at the Sacramento County Clerk-Recorder’s Office last month. Paper for such documents is in short supply in California. lsterling@sacbee.con

Californians seeking multiple copies of birth or death certificates could come up short as state officials contend with an unexplained delivery snafu.

A shortage of special paper is putting a strain on county registrars and health officers who must use the material for official documents. State law mandates specific security features for physical copies of “vital records” like birth, death and marriage documents.

But the company that supplies California with paper meeting those guidelines, Northern Bank Note, has not been making deliveries to county officials in the last few weeks. Northern Bank Note is the only United States printer offering a feature involving raised ink called “intaglio print.”

The Ohio-based firm has not returned calls to the California State Registrar in over two months. Inquiries from the Sacramento Bee also went unanswered.

That has caused issues across the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. As the search for a new supplier unwinds, an advisory to locals recommended managing the problem by issuing only one copy of vital records at a time.

“While the state registrar has supplies sufficient to meet demand for records into next year, some counties have reported shortages and the need to possibly limit the number of vital records copies provided to their customers,” Department of Public Health spokesman Matt Conens said in an email.

Sacramento County is in a good position to weather the confusion because a recent shipment has left officials with about nine months’ worth of the required paper, County Clerk/Recorder Donna Allred said.

“We’re good here,” Allred said. “The state is working on a long-term solution, so we’re hoping to get that taken care of soon.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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