Obtain a Copy of a Court File

The San Diego Superior Court does not send out court files electronically or by fax. In addition, persons are not allowed to use cameras (including phones with cameras) to take pictures of the contents of a file.

General Order of the Presiding Department Order No. 010123-02 In Re: Procedure Regulating Photography, Recording and Broadcasting in Courthouse

General Order 010123-03 In Re: Prohibiting the Use of Cameras and Other Digital Image-Capture Devices in Courthouse

Copies of sealed and confidential documents or case files may not be available without a court order.

Once you have located the case number and court location (refer to the online case search for assistance with case numbers and locations), there are a number of ways to obtain a copy of a court record.


Some documents in Civil, Small Claims, and Probate cases initiated on or after January 1, 2008, may be available for download from the online Register of Actions. For imaged Family cases filed on or after August 24, 2015, some documents can be purchased online and mailed to you. Please refer to the corresponding Register of Actions link on the Accessing Court Records page.

In Person

For hard copy court files, go to the courthouse where the file is located.

  • If you do not know the case number, you can look up the case number on the public computer at some court locations. For cases from 1880 to 1964, go to Older Records where the index is located.
  • Provide the court staff at the appropriate business office counter with the case number.
  • A picture identification card must be presented to view case files.
  • The clerk will pull a maximum number of 10 cases per request, per customer, per transaction.
  • Record searches requested by a non-party will be assessed a records search fee (GC 70627(c)) for all searches lasting longer than 10 minutes.
    • A "search" is defined as the total time taken to search the system, print and/or locate the information, and provide it to the requestor whether it is one item or multiple items. Refer to the court's current fee schedule for the correct fee amount. This fee is for searches only. The time utilized for making copies is included in the copy fee.
  • Order copies from the microfiche/microfilm or file at 50¢ per page. (A page is defined as one side of a document.)
  • Some copy requests may require a minimum of two court days to process.  You will be contacted by court staff when your copy request has been completed, or given a pick-up date at the time of your request.  You must pay for the copies before they are made.
  • Because of limited space, many case files are stored at an off-site location after a certain amount of time. If the case for which you are searching for is housed away from a court facility, there is a retrieval charge that is due and collected at the time the request is made. Please refer to the Records-Related Fees on the current fee schedule for retrieval costs.

Some Civil, Small Claims, Family, Traffic, and Older Records documents may be available at computer kiosks in the appropriate business offices.

By Mail

In Probate cases, Probate Form PR-189 - Request for Copies (Probate) can be submitted via e-File or by mail to request copies.

For all other case types, send a letter to the court facility where the case was tried. In the letter, include the following:

  • The case number
  • The names of the parties involved
  • The names of the documents that you want to have copied from the court file
  • Your contact information (phone, mailing address and email address)

A research fee may apply if the search for the documents you have requested takes more than 10 minutes (GC§70627(c)).

You must include a self-addressed stamped envelope with sufficient postage to have your copies sent to you by mail AND provide payment for any copy or research fees.

Payment by Mail

  • If you do not know how many pages are in the documents that you are requesting or whether a research fee will be charged, make your check payable to "Superior Court" and write on the Memo line Not to exceed $ _____ (on the Memo line you can specify an amount: $20, $30 or whatever you think will cover the cost).
  • To pay by credit card, use the Credit Card Payment form (SDSC Form #ADM-253)
  • A receipt indicating the fee charged will be mailed back to you with your copies.

Copy requests received by mail may take several weeks to process.


There are additional fees for certification of copies and retrieving older cases from off-site storage.  Please refer to the Records-Related Fees on the current fee schedule for full details on costs.