Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Who is buried on Hart Island?

Individuals are buried on Hart Island (1) because their identity is unknown at the time of their death and a next of kin could not be located to arrange for burial services; (2) because the individual's family could not afford burial costs; (3) or because the individual's family preferred that their loved one be buried on Hart Island.

The burial location of each individual since 1977 is recorded and maintained in the Hart Island database.

I'm having trouble determining whether my loved one is buried on Hart Island, who can I contact for help?

You can contact the Office of Burial Services – Hart Island Division by calling 929-221-6860 or by submitting a request online.

Can I get help paying for a burial or cremation of a loved one who passed away ?

Yes. Burial assistance is available to help pay for funeral expenses/burials/cremations of eligible low-income New Yorkers. Applications, along with your documents, will be reviewed by the HRA Office of Burial Services to see if eligibility criteria for a burial allowance are met. To learn more about burial assistance and apply for a burial allowance, visit HRA's Office of Burial Services website. If you call outside of regular business hours, please leave a message and your call will be returned the next business day. You may also visit the Office of Burial Services in person at:

HRA Office of Burial Services
33-28 Northern Boulevard
3rd Floor
Long Island City, NY 11101

Who are considered chosen family members? Does NYC Parks allow chosen family to visit?

Chosen families are non-biological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of mutual support and love. Chosen family members have the same access to Hart Island as biological family members.

I am not a relative but would like to visit the gravesite of a close friend or co-worker. Am I eligible for a gravesite visit?

Individuals with close personal ties to a specific decedent are eligible for gravesite visits, however, visits for family members, chosen family members, and partners are prioritized. To discuss individual visits, please contact hart.island@parks.nyc.gov or by calling 212-360-3428.

How many visitors sign up to visit Hart Island?

Reservations to visit Hart Island may be scheduled by using the Visit Request Form online.

How many people can visit Hart Island during a visitation period?

NYC Parks works to accommodate each request submitted for a visit to Hart Island. In order to allow for safe social distancing, a maximum of 15 visitors can be accommodated for each gravesite visitation period.

Can I take personal items on a gravesite visit?

Visitors are permitted to leave the following mementos at gravesites: flowers without vases, small stuffed animals, photographs, prayer cards, small flags, and blankets. When requesting a visit, requestors may seek permission to bring other mementos, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Can I take pictures while I'm on Hart Island?

Photos and videos are permitted on Hart Island.

I'm having trouble determining whether my loved one is buried on Hart Island, who can I contact for help?

What happens if my preferred visit day is unavailable?

Visits to Hart Island are scheduled on a first-come-first-served basis. When a visitation period reaches capacity, a waitlist is created for that visitation period. As scheduled visitors notify NYC Parks of a cancellation, Parks reaches out to visitors on the waitlist to notify them that a scheduled visit has become available on their preferred day and add them to the schedule accordingly. Alternately, Parks will offer to schedule the visitors on a later date.

Does NYC Parks charge a fee for visits to Hart Island?

All visits to Hart Island are free of charge and are authorized solely and entirely by NYC Parks. Parks does not work with third-party vendors or outside organizations to schedule or provide visits to Hart Island. All visits to Hart Island should be scheduled directly with Parks.

What is NYC Parks doing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during visits?

The safety of our staff and visitors is NYC Parks' top priority and several policies have been put in place to ensure visits are safe and respectful. All staff and guests are required to wear a face covering and maintain safe social distance for the duration of the visit and will be sanitized between each visit. If you have any questions or concerns related to the health and safety measures in place for gravesite visits, please contact NYC Parks by emailing hart.island@parks.nyc.gov.