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Are Birth Certificates Public Record In New York

Are New York Marriage Records Public Information

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Certified New York marriage records are not public information. However, members of the public may access informational copies for genealogical or research purposes. To be eligible to access a New York certified marriage record, the requesting party must be named on the document or be legally authorized to obtain it.

How Do I Obtain New York Vital Records

Vital records that are open to the public usually require no additional documentation to access. This is also the case for obtaining uncertified copies to be used for research and informational functions. However, persons seeking access to certified or restricted records are often required to provide additional paperwork before processing their request.

The required documents include a government-issued photo ID , as well as a court-issued subpoena proving their eligibility to access uncertified records and proof of relationship documents . In addition, requestors may be required to cover copy or certification costs.

Publicly available vital records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels.

To find a record using the search engines on third party sites, the requesting party will be required to provide:

  • The location of the record in question, including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
  • The name of someone involved providing it is not a juvenile.

Are New York Divorce Records Public Information

It depends. New York divorce records are generally restricted from the public but are available to the registrants named on the record and people authorized by a New York State Court Order. Persons permitted by eligible persons can make third-party pickups. However, the third party must bear a signed and notarized letter authorizing the pickup and proof of identity, a government-issued ID, or a related document.

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New York State Department Of Health Can Provide Copies Of Birth Certificates For Individuals Born Outside Of New York Citys Five Boroughs

Who is eligible to obtain a birth certificate copy?

  • The person named on the birth certificate
  • A parent of the person named on the birth certificate whose name appears on the birth certificate
  • A spouse, child or other person who has an order from a New York State Court to obtain a copy of a birth certificate

*For births in the five boroughs of New York City, contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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Confidential Or Personal Information

VitalChek Orders

The exemption covers documents that lead to an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy. For instance, an individuals medical history and personal information of government personnel are exempt under the New York Freedom of Information Law. Also, it protects the personal data of crime victims from public access. Furthermore, it prevents record custodians from revealing data protected under attorney-client privilege.

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Authentication By The County Clerk

Authentication of the Record: Documents to be submitted for apostille or certificate of authentication must be authenticated by the County Clerk or a state official. This is the second step in the process. A birth or death certificate must bear a letter of exemplification. A request for authentication must be presented to the County Clerks Notary Desk at 60 Centre Street, Room 141B. The request may also be submitted to the County Clerk by mail if the documents are in proper order, the County Clerk will authenticate them and return them to the applicant by mail. The submission by mail must be accompanied by a certified personal check or U.S. postal order, payable to the County Clerk of New York County, in the amount of $3.00. No other form of payment will be accepted through the mails. Payment of the $3.00 fee in person may be made in cash or by credit card . Mail applications must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for return of the documents by the County Clerk. The County Clerk does not have facilities to return documents by delivery service or postal express mail so the applicant should plan accordingly and submit the proper postage to ensure trouble-free return.

Notification Of Birth Registration

The Notification of Birth Registration form, issued by the U.S. Census Bureau during the first half of the twentieth century, is not a birth certificate. The U.S. Census Bureau designed this form in 1924, at the request of various state vital statistics offices, to promote the accurate registration of births in the United States. The notification was completed and sent to parents of newborns when the state office of vital records received information on the birth and made up a birth registration record. If parents found errors in the information shown on the form, they were asked to correct them and return the form so the states record could be corrected accordingly. The notification was used until the late 1940s and then discontinued once states were keeping satisfactory birth records. The U.S. Census Bureau does not maintain these records. Certified copies of birth records must be obtained from the vital statistics office where the event occurred (contact information for states’ vital statistics offices is available from the National Center for Health Statistics.

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How To Access Public Records For Free

If you are making your family tree or trying to reconnect with long lost family members, you are probably wondering how to find birth records in the United States.

You need to know a few details about the relative you are searching for in order to find and access their US birth certificate.

You will need the following basics, although the more information you have, the easier it will make your search:

  • The name of the certificate bearer that is the family member whose name appears on the birth certificate or other vital record
  • Their date of birth in this scenario, this piece of information will help determine whether the birth record is public or private
  • The place where the birth took place this helps prepare the requirements needed to obtain the birth certificate

Review And Submit The Public Record

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Some public records are not free, and custodian agencies may charge specific fees in line with the New York FOIL. These charges generally cover the cost of printing copies of public documents. Moreover, payment options for obtaining a public record in New York include debit or credit cards, cash payments at the agency’s physical address, money orders, and cashier checks. Record seekers will obtain a written response within five business days of submitting a public record request to a custodian agency.

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Certified Vital Records For Legal Purposes

Regular handling takes 8-10 weeks. The certified copy fee is $30 for a birth, death, divorce or marriage record. You may speed up requests for certified copies of genealogical records for legal purposes by sending the request, with your check or money order , to the address below via an overnight delivery service and including a prepaid overnight express return envelope. Priority handling takes up to two weeks and there is an extra $15 fee per certificate. Proper documentation and proper identification is required.

For priority handling , send overnight to:

New York State Department of HealthVital Records Section/2nd Floor

For regular handling , send to:

New York State Department of HealthVital Records Section, Certification UnitP.O. Box 2602Albany, NY 12220-2602

If you require rush service for a certificate for legal purposes , your order should be submitted via Internet , by phone or by fax . A major credit card is required. Current processing fee is $69.95 for express service or $56.95 for regular mail delivery .

Many city, town or village registrars/clerks can offer more expeditious service.

Births From 1847 Thru 1849

In 1847, New York State passed a law requiring that doctors and midwives report births, marriages, and deaths to the trustees of local school districts. Due to the complexities of this law, it quickly fell into disfavor and few communities reported births after 1850 . Most records that exist for this time period have been collected by the New York City Municipal Archives.

PART A: You know the village, town, or city of birth

Try 1st: Most of the records for Manhattan as well as the towns in Kings, Queens, and Richmond counties have been microfilmed by FamilySearch. Search the Catalog for the name of village, town, or city to see if it is available at your local FamilySearch Center.

Try 2nd: Order a copy of the birth record from New York City Municipal Archives.

If you do not want to order the birth record, you can search other records with birth information.

PART B: You do not know the village, town, or city of birth

If you do not know the village, town, or city of birth, learn more about the family using census, land, probate, and church records.

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Are New York Records Public

New York public records refer to government-generated documents accessible to state residents and non-residents. The New York Public Records Act or Freedom of Information Law is a series of laws that enables public members to access public records. As defined by the New York Freedom of Information Law, public records are any data stored, held, filed, created, or re-created by the state legislature or agency. For example, the following documents are classified as New York public records:

  • Court record
  • Public death records
  • Public New York divorce records

New York Public records may exist as physical documents, such as photographs, maps, graphs, charters, manuals, pamphlets, folders, books, designs, opinions, reports, or letters. In contrast, public members may also access New York public records in digital format, which may include formats such as videos, sounds, and electronic communication . Per the New York Public Records Act, public members can obtain public documents by contacting the custodian agency responsible for maintaining the records.

Note: documents generated outside the government but currently in a custodian agencys possession are subject to the New York Freedom of Information Law.

The Actual Beginning Of Modern Vital Record Keeping

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New York State made continual attempts to incentivize compliance with vital record keeping laws since 1880, and the definitive breakthrough occurred in 1913.

With An Act to Amend the Public Health Law, in Relation to Vital Statistics, New York established substantial fines and even imprisonment for officials found in noncompliance. Additionally, the law outlined processes for the state to take over the vital record keeping practice for jurisdictions that could not comply.

The law also precisely spelled out what information should be included in birth, marriage, and death certificates. Experts agree that this date marks the official beginning of the modern system of vital records management in New York State – some mark 1913 as the first year of full compliance, and others believe that true, full compliance didnt begin until 1914.

It is important to note that after this law, the cities of Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers no longer kept separate vital records – certificates created in these municipalities after 1914 can be found with the rest of New York State vital records.

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What Is Exempted Under The New York Public Record Law

The Freedom of Information Law prevents custodian agencies from revealing certain public information to the public. Furthermore, the exemption may apply to portions or whole documents, and it is the responsibility of the custodian agency to redact or withhold these documents from public access. ) The FOIL exempts the following information from public access:

New York City Vital Records Indexes

Indexes* at the Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy, The New York Public Library:

Index to NYC Births, 18661909 Index to NYC Deaths, 18881948 Marriage Indexes by Groom 18881937 and Brides 18691937

*These indexes can only be viewed in person.

In addition, collections in the Milstein Division feature alternative resources for birth, marriage, and death information, including church records, historical newspaper collections, family files, and genealogy periodicals.

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Contact The Custodian Agency Holding The Record

Record seekers must contact the custodian agency responsible for holding or issuing the preferred record. Next, they must find out the agencies’ method of providing public documents – some agencies maintain online or offline access, while some maintain both types of access. That said, most New York public records are under the purview of the following systems.

The New York Court system has five levels, each with varying levels of jurisdiction and cases. Thus, persons or entities searching for court records must contact the Clerk of the court responsible for handling the case.

How Long Are Birth Records Kept

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Vital records offices keep birth records for roughly 80 to 120 years. Most vital records including birth certificates are available for printed copies to be issued a few weeks after the event is recorded and are easy to obtain online.

Please note that recent records may be restricted to immediate family members or persons with a proven tangible interest especially in states with closed birth records.

Older records are generally available with fewer restrictions and are usually kept in the state archives. Records from the 17th and 18th centuries may be available at local historical societies.

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New York State Birth Certificates

Those seeking New York birth certificates should begin with the state’s index to all birth certificates from 1881. Birth indexes are made available after 75 years, but not all indexes are entirely up to date, and may only go up to the mid-1930s. Another limitation to keep in mind is that not all births were reported in the earlier years of the index – compliance grew over time, and before 1913 was often incomplete in many areas.

The vital records chapter of our New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer goes into detail on when compliance started in every area of New York State, and how researchers should handle research in all areas and time periods.

Fortunately, the New York State Birth Index from 1880 – 1942 was recently added as a searchable database on Images are also available to browse for free on Internet Archive.

Again, these indexes do not cover several notable locations. New York City birth certificates have always been kept completely separate from vital records of other locations in New York State. See the New York City section of this guide for more information.

Additionally, New York State does not have birth records for Albany, Buffalo, or Yonkers before 1914. Click the name of each municipality to find out about obtaining vital records for your ancestors in these cities.

Once you have found the birth certificate number, you’re ready to request a copy.

How Much Do Public Records Cost In New York

Most custodian agencies may charge for providing copies of public records in New York. Generally, it costs $0.25 per page for copying public records ). Note that custodian agencies may charge additional fees for certified and notarized copies of public documents. Also, postage or mailing fees alongside fees for online payments are included when requesting public records.

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When Did Each State Start Recording Birth Records

Most US state bureaus began recording births and deaths around the early 1900s although some have earlier records, as early as the 1600s.

In certain states, birth records go back much further making it easy to find public records online. Most vital records are maintained by the Department of Health of the US state where the event took place.

The table below compiles the dates at which birth records began being recorded in each state, along with other vital records such as death, marriage, and divorce records. For information on vital records before the dates below, please contact the town where the vital event occurred:

Vital records availability by State

Where To Find Public Birth Records

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The vast majority of public records available like birth certificate records and other vital records such as death certificates or marriage certificates are maintained at the local level. That is, in the city, county, and state where the event took place.

There are extensive resources available online that can help you quickly help find birth records or locate other types of public records. Some examples include:

  • National Vital Records Archives:
  • State Department of Public Health where the event was recorded
  • Genealogy websites like or
  • Some private companies offer website search functions with results that aggregate public records from a variety of sources for a fee

In most cases, when the records are public, you will be able to view a birth certificate for free, the same applies when trying to view a death certificate. Nevertheless, obtaining a printed copy may carry a fee.

If you need a legally-valid copy of a birth certificate and know the certificate holders basic details, you may order a certified copy of the birth certificate online.

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Early New York City Vital Records

Where to look and what methods to use can vary depending on the county or borough you’re looking in, as well as the exact year.

If you’re looking for a birth, marriage, or death certificate from the early 1800s or before, a good place to start is Harry Macy’s detailed New York Knowledge Base guide to New York City vital records.

This guide provides comprehensive information on locating vital records in New Netherland, colonial New York, and in the five boroughs of New York City. His suggested repositories and record sets also include many vital record substitutes for periods and locations when official city copies are unavailable.

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