The Coroner is an independent official with responsibility under the law for the medico-legal investigation of certain deaths occurring in San Mateo County.

The Coroner's office must inquire into the circumstances of sudden, unexplained, and unnatural deaths. This inquiry may require a post-mortem examination or an inquest into the medical history of the decedent.  The Coroner's inquiry is concerned with establishing whether the death was due to natural or unnatural causes.  If the death is due to natural causes, the decedent's primary care physican may certify the death.  If a death is due to unnatural causes (for example a violent death, a road traffic accident, an accident at work, by drowning, etc.) then an inquiry must be completed per the California Government Code.

Hours of Operation:

The Coroner's Office is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  A deputy coroner can be reached by telephone 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The Pathology Division releases decedents from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, excluding Christmas.   Please contact the Coroner's Office to confirm release hours, or if other arrangements are required.

Hospice Deaths - When to Report

Beginning February 1, 2012, hospice deaths relating to natural causes with kin notified do not need to be reported to the Coroner's Office.  The When to Report Form should be filled out for all hospice patients to ensure that proper reporting is done in the matter of deaths relating to trauma, communicable diseases, medication misuse/abuse, and when no kin is known or able to act.  If you have any questions, please contact the on-duty deputy coroner at (650) 312-5562.

Autopsy by Family Request

Autopsies are available for deaths which are not within the Coroner’s jurisdiction.  These autopsies are performed after written request from the legal next of kin has been received, and the requestor pays customary charges for the autopsy (California Government Code Section 27520).

As of the fiscal year 2014-2015, the charge for a complete autopsy is $3,675.00.  Depending on the circumstances and testing required, there may be additional charges.  The cost of examination and all additional charges are paid by the legal next of kin.

For further information, contact the Coroner's Office at (650) 312-5562.