Search Public Records
Where can I search for free public records?
You can sift through New York’s public records of birth, marriage, and divorce certificates to obtain the information you are looking for, but be prepared to dedicate ample time to examine the records.
Are New York Vital Records Open to the Public?
In New York, most state records are generally open to the public; however, the amount of access will depend on the record type and the year of birth, death, or marriage. Many vital records in New York are free and readily available to the public after 75 years.
Third-party websites can be a great place to begin your research. These websites offer an extensive range of records making it easier to find the records you need – though they may differ from official government reports. Generally, to access these records, you will need to provide the following information:
- The location of the record you are looking for, including the city, county, or state where it was recorded.
- The person’s name on the record, if it is not a minor.
How to Verify if Your Vital Record is Official
Each state, county, and municipality keeps specific vital records. Depending on which entity issued your birth, death, or marriage certificate, verify what it should look like to guarantee you possess the official version.
What Are the Differences between Authorized Copies Versus Informational Copies?
To distinguish an informational copy from an authorized copy, look for a stamp or bold print that reads something similar to “Informational, Not a Valid Document to Establish Identity.”
Certified copies constitute legal documents accepted for official identification, whereas informational copies cannot be used to verify an individual’s identity. Therefore, only those with a “direct and tangible interest” are authorized to receive certified copies of vital records.
If you need an official birth, death, or marriage certificate, you may be required to obtain a notarized sworn statement proving legal entitlement to the authorized copy. Any person requesting an authorized birth, death, or marriage certificate copy must include the signed and notarized sworn statement, declaring under penalty of perjury, that they are legally entitled to receive an authorized copy. Without the notarized sworn statement, the request cannot be accepted and will be returned to you, resulting in further delays.
You do not need to provide a sworn statement if you request an informational copy. The New York State Public Officers Law’s Article 6 Sections 84-90, known as the NY Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), grants the public the right to access records held by government entities – with some exceptions. The Freedom of Information Law does not provide access to birth, death, marriage, and dissolution of marriage certificates. You can find out how to get Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Records by visiting the Vital Records section of the New York State Department of Health.
Please review the resources section to find more references regarding birth, death, and marriage certificates.