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How to Find a Birth Record in New York?

What Are Birth Records in New York?

A birth record is a report documenting the existence of an individual and providing legal recognition of that person's identity. It is an official document that establishes a legal record of when and where an individual was born and who the parents are. A New York birth record establishes New York residency and US citizenship.

Not only is birth registration a fundamental human right, but the record created thereof is also essential in ensuring that an individual's other rights are upheld, such as rights to protection from violence and essential social services like health care and justice. Birth records are used in aggregating statistics useful in the government's financial planning and developmental programs. Birth records may also be useful in determining which government programs get priority for funding. Birth records are useful for requesters for many purposes, such as filing for keeps or for application processing.

A birth record typically contains:

  • Date of birth
  • Time of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Child's full name
  • Mother's name
  • Father's name
  • Child's gender
  • Type of birth
  • Mother's marital status

Apart from the regular birth certificate, New York issues a long form birth certificate which may be referred to as a vault copy, or certified photocopy of the birth certificate. The long form is the exact photocopy of the original birth record that was prepared by the hospital or attending physician at the time of a child's birth. This copy includes other information such as parents' residential address, parents' birthplace, parents' date of birth, information on the doctor(s) involved in the birth of the child, and other additional information on the birthplace of the child. The long form also contains the signature of the doctor involved and at least one of the patents.

The long form birth certificate qualifies for a New York apostille or embassy legalization with or without a letter of exemplification. An apostille is a means of certifying the authenticity of the signature of the issuing authority, the capacity in which the signer was acting, and the identity of any stamp or seal attached to the document. An apostille for New York State is issued by the New York State Department of State. A Letter of Exemplification is a page attached to the long form birth certificate that certifies that the attached birth certificate is a true copy of the actual record.

A long form birth certificate and a Letter of Exemplification are needed for certain foreign processes such as:

  • Applying for dual citizenship
  • Obtaining apostille document authentication of a public document for use in an overseas country
  • Marrying in a foreign country
  • Adopting a child from a foreign country
  • Purchasing property in an overseas country

How to Find and Request Birth Records Online in New York?

New York does not provide a way for the public to find birth records online. However, there are several ways to request a birth record in the state. Ordering a record online is the quickest and most convenient way to request a copy of a birth record. New York State does not directly provide online access for requesters to obtain birth records. The state uses a third-party vendor to provide access to birth records. For persons born in New York City, the New York City Health Department also uses a third-party vendor to allow requesters to request birth records online.

Considered open to citizens of the United States, public records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:

  • The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
  • The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.

While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government-sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.

How to Get Birth Records in New York?

Apart from online services provided through third-party vendors, relevant authorities maintaining birth records in New York allow requesters to obtain such records by:

  • Walk-Ins/In-Person or third-party pickup requests
  • Mail requests

Walk-in requests generally take far less time to complete than online and mail requests for birth records, with most walk-in requesters obtaining their records on the same day of request.

Note that New York State requires a requester to submit an application for birth record with either one of the documents listed in Category A or two of the documents listed in Category B below:

Category A

  • Driver's license
  • State-issued, non-driver photo ID card
  • Passport
  • U.S. Military-issued, photo ID

Category B

  • Utility or telephone bill
  • Letter from a government agency dated within the last six months

Persons applying from foreign countries that require a passport for travel must submit a copy of their U.S. passports in addition to any of the listed forms of identification. Failure to adhere to these instructions is the most common reason for birth record application denial.

Walk-In Orders and Third-Party Pick-Ups

To make a New York birth certificate request in person, visit the Office of Vital Records. The address is:

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Certification Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

Third-party pickups are not encouraged by the Office of Vital Records. Instead, the Office recommends that requesters make orders online or by mail. However, if a requester insists on obtaining a birth record via third-party pickup, the following guidelines must be strictly followed:

  • Furnish the third party with a signed, dated, and notarized letter stating who will be picking up the record, which record will be picked up, and that the requester grants the third-party permission to obtain the record on their behalf.
  • If the letter is notarized before an official outside of the State of New York, it must be accompanied by a certificate of authentication.
  • Send a completed and signed application form with the third party. Complete, print, and sign the application form (but do not mail).
  • Include copies of the requester's identification.
  • The individual picking up the record will be required to provide proof of identity and will need to co-sign the application form.

Failure to adhere strictly to these guidelines will cause the Vital Records Office to refrain from issuing the requested record.

To make a request for a New York City birth certificate, visit the Office of Vital Records in the city. The Office is located at:

125 Worth Street, CN-4
Room 133
New York, NY 10013-4090

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on the number of persons gathered in one place, in-person requests to both Offices of Vital Records in New York City and the New York State Department of Health have been suspended until further notice.

Mail Orders

The Vital Records Office responds to mail requests for birth records. Requesters using this method are required to complete the Mail-in Application for Copy of Birth Certificate form. Mail completed forms along with payment to:

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Certification Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

Any individual interested in obtaining a record for a birth that occurred in any of the five boroughs of New York City may contact the New York City Health Department. The Health Department issues birth certificates for persons born in the City.

To order by mail, enclose in a self-addressed stamped envelope, a money order or personal check with the completed Birth Certificate Application form. Make the order or check payable to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Mail the application to the address of the Office of Vital Records at:

Bureau of Vital Statistics
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
125 Worth Street
Room 144
New York, NY 10013

Persons who order a birth certificate online but need to obtain an apostille will be responsible for forwarding the document to the New York State Department of State for authentication. Individuals who intend to obtain a Letter of Exemplification must order a long form birth certificate. Requesters are advised to explain the reason for their request in their application. Thereafter, the certificate-issuing authority will determine if a Letter of Exemplification is needed.

Where Can I Find Birth Records in New York?

The Office of Vital Records in New York maintains records of births in the state from 1881 to the present except for births that occurred in New York City. Therefore, records of the boroughs of Manhattan, Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Bronx, and Richmond (Staten Island) cannot be obtained from the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Vital Record. The Health Department in New York City issues birth certificates for all persons born in New York City. Birth records in New York State may also be obtained in person from local Registrars of Vital Statistics where the births occur.

Can Anyone Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate in New York?

A New York birth record is only available to a person named on the record or a parent of the person named on the birth record. Note that the name of the requesting parent must be on the record for the requesting parent to obtain the birth record. A spouse, child, or any other person may also access a birth record by obtaining a New York State court order.

A requester may apply for a New York City birth record if the individual is:

  • Above the age of 18
  • Listed on record as a parent or a child
  • Born in New York City

How Much Does a Birth Certificate Cost in New York?

Online orders cost $45 and an additional $8 vendor processing fee per transaction. Note that the processing fee is per transaction and not per copy. Online payment options include MasterCard or Visa, Discover, American Express, and ACH (Electronic Check).

Walk-in orders for birth certificates in New York State are charged at $45 per request. Payment for orders can be made with cash, check, and money order. Credit or debit cards are not accepted. Mail orders are charged at $30 per birth record. Accepted methods of payment are personal check, postal money order, and certified check made payable to the New York State Department of Health. Payment for an order from any country outside the United States must be made by a check drawn on a United States bank or by international money order. Note that cash is not accepted for international orders for New York birth records.

A person ordering a birth certificate from the NYS Department of Health can have the Department forward the certificate to the Department of State which will return the certificate with apostille to the requester. For this to happen, the requester must order the birth certificate by mail and pay for expedited processing ($45 per certificate copy) by check or money order. The money order must be made payable to the New York State Department of Health. The requester must also enclose a separate check or money order for $10 per certificate to be apostilled, made payable to the New York Department of State. This is in addition to the requester's payment to the Department of Health for the certificate itself. Note that the requester must include a letter in the application notifying the Department of the country in which the apostille is needed.

In New York City, birth record requests by mail orders are charged at $15 per copy. A request made in person costs $17.75 for the first copy and $15 for each additional copy. A requester placing a birth certificate order online must possess a personal credit, debit, or checking account. Online requests are only accepted from persons whose names appear on the requested records. An online birth record request in New York City costs $15 each, and an additional $8.30 fee for each order. For instance, if a requester intends to order two copies of a birth record online, the New York City Health Department charges $15 for each record and only one processing fee of $8.30. Hence, the total cost in this instance would be $38.30.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Birth Certificate in New York?

Online requests for birth records made via the NYC third-party service provider are reviewed within 24 hours on weekdays and shipping time is dependent on the delivery period. The standard delivery is via the US Postal Service, while requesters are charged additional fees for using UPS express mail delivery. Note that express mail delivery is not available for P.O. Box addresses.

Internet requests for birth certificates in New York State are processed within 5 - 10 business days of receipt. Mail requests ordered with priority handling are processed within 2 - 4 weeks from when they are received while mail requests ordered with regular handling are processed within 10 to 12 weeks.

In New York City, mail orders take 20 weeks to complete. This period does not include the mailing time which can take an additional 10 to 15 business days. For further inquiries, call 311 for calls within New York City or (212) 639-9675 for persons calling from outside of New York City to contact the Vital Records Office in New York City. Online requests take about 10 business days to complete. Although UPS express orders are typically shipped by overnight mail, the mailing process can take an additional 10 to 15 business days. Certified copies can be obtained the same day for in-person requests while requests for long-form birth certificates or vault copies take two weeks to complete.

How to Expunge Your Birth Records in New York?

An expungement is a process of permanently deleting a record. This term usually applies to the removal or setting aside of criminal records. New York does not allow the expunction of birth records.

How to Seal Your Birth Records in New York?

Birth certificates are sealed once parents file for adoption in New York. The process required for sealing is included in the adoption filing process.

How to Unseal Your Birth Records in New York?

Previously, for a birth record to be unsealed, a requester was required to obtain an order from the court. Following New York's newly enacted adoptee rights law which came into effect on January 15, 2020, adoptees can now receive a copy of their pre-adoption or original birth certificates when they turn 18. Under the new law, only the following categories of persons can obtain a pre-adoption certificate:

  • An adoptee who is 18 years of age or older
  • Direct line descendants of a deceased adoptee. A direct line descendant is a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild, etc. of the adoptee.
  • A lawful representative of the adopted person
  • A lawful representative of a deceased adoptee’s direct line descendant

The quickest way to obtain an original or a pre-adoption birth certificate is through the third-party vendor service provided by the New York State and New York City. Paper applications are accepted in person or by mail. Certificates are not provided on the same day for in-person applicants. Completed applications should be mailed to:

New York State Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Records, PAC Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

or can be delivered in-person to:

800 North Pearl Street
Menands, New York 12204

Note that although Local Registrars are authorized to issue pre-adoption certificates where available, they may not have access to the complete, sealed files containing pre-adoption birth certificates. The fee is $45 per requested copy.

New York requires the submission of identification with every request for a pre-adoption certificate. Persons applying for themselves through paper application must provide valid photo identification and photocopy of their current birth certificate if available. Additional instructions are contained in the Adoptee Application for Copy of Pre-Adoption Birth Certificate form.

Note that the New York State Department of Health cannot issue a pre-adoption birth certificate for an adoptee born in New York City. Such persons must apply through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In New York City, original birth certificate requests of direct line descendants who are deceased, or requests originating from lawful representatives of entitled applicants must be completed by mail. Completed applications are to be mailed to:

Office of Vital Records
Attention: Sealed Record Request
125 Worth Street, CN-4
New York, NY 10013-4090