Frequently Asked Questions

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COVID-19 Service changes and vital record order processing information

  • The public reading rooms are closed. Pending guidance from State and local authorities, re-opening is not expected to take place before late September.
  • During this closure period, the Archives is continuing to process vital record and photograph copy requests submitted by mail and online:

The current processing time to fulfill a request for a copy of vital record or photograph that is available in digital format is five days or less. Please review the chart below to determine the availability of digitized vital records.

The current processing time to fulfill a request for a vital record that has not been digitized, or is required in certified hard-copy format, is approximately eight weeks.

The current processing time to fulfill a request for a copy of a photograph required in hard-copy format is approximately two weeks.

Please do not request status updates or "tracking" information unless the order has not been fulfilled within the time spans specified above. Thank you.

The following vital records have been digitized and are available for quick email delivery in PDF format. Please note that PDF records are not certified.

Borough / County Health Department Marriage Certificates City Clerk Marriage License Death Certificates Birth Certificates
Manhattan 1866-1937 1908-1910; 1938-1949 1866, 1867, 1870-1876, 1920, 1932-1948 1866-1909
Brooklyn/Kings Country 1866-1937 1938-1949 1862-1948 1866-1909
Bronx 1898-1937 Not Digitized 1898-1948 1898-1909
Queens 1898-1937 1938-1940 1898-1948 1898-1909
Staten Island/Richmond County 1898-1937 1908-1911 1898-1948 1898-1909

What should I do if I require a certified hard-copy vital record for a dual citizenship application?

As noted above, the Archives is fulfilling hard-copy requests; however, due to continuing restrictions on access to the building and transportation, the current processing time is about eight weeks.

How do I place an order if the date of birth, death or marriage is not known and/or the certificate number is not known?

Patrons can now search indexes to most vital records on-line, for free, courtesy of the local genealogy organizations the Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogical Group, as well as www.Ancestry.com and other commercial sites.

How do I order the record of a birth after 1909?

All inquiries regarding birth certificates after 1909 - copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the Department of Health.

How do I order the record of a death after 1948?

All inquiries regarding death certificates after 1948 - copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the Department of Health.

How do I order the record of a marriage after 1949?

All inquiries regarding marriage records after 1949 - copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the City Clerk.

What should I do if I have not received the complete order?

The Municipal Archives often ships vital record copies separately even when ordered at the same time.

What do I do if my credit card was denied?

Many patrons from outside the U.S. have difficulty with the credit card processing service that we use. Please contact us for further instructions if your credit card has been denied.

What is the difference between Health Department marriage certificates and City Clerk marriage license records?

Prior to 1908 there is only one available marriage record, the "certificate" recorded by the Health Department. Beginning in 1908, in compliance with N.Y. State Law, couples planning to marry were required to obtain a license. In the five boroughs of New York City, the City Clerk issued the license. The City Clerk marriage record series typically includes an "affidavit" filled-out by the couple, the "license" issued by the Clerk, and a "certificate" filled-out by the person performing the wedding ceremony.

The Health Department continued to record marriages until 1937. Consequently, there are potentially TWO entirely separate records of a marriage for the time period from 1908 through 1937—the Health Department Certificate and the City Clerk License/Affidavit/Certificate. Although the information in both series is duplicative, the City Clerk series includes additional information: parents' country of birth, and the bride's occupation.

The two series are filed and indexed separately. On-line searchable indexes to Health Department marriage records are available for free, courtesy of the local genealogy organizations the Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogical Group; indexes to the Marriage License series are available via www.Ancestry.com and other commercial sites.

How do I request records of birth, death, or marriage that took place in New York State outside of the City of New York?

Contact the New York State Department of Health for vital records from jurisdictions outside New York City.

How do I obtain divorce records?

For information about divorce records contact the County Clerk in the County where the divorce action was heard, or, contact the New York State Department of Health (divorce after 1963).

How do I request a correction or amendment to information on a birth, death or marriage record?

Birth records prior to 1910, death records prior to 1949, and marriage records prior to 1950 cannot be amended or corrected. Please contact us for information about obtaining a 'no amend' letter if needed for the dual citizenship application.

How do I get a letter of exemplification?

The letter of exemplification is only required for dual citizenship applications. If required, check the appropriate box on the application form (the fee for the letter is $5.00).

Is it true that the New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) has photographs of every house in the city, taken around 1940 and again in the 1980s? How can I see them and/or order copies?

Yes, between 1939 and 1940, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) staff photographed every house and building in the five boroughs for property tax assessment purposes. The City photographed every house and building again in the 1980s. The photographs can be searched and viewed in the agency website.

Will I get a refund for the shipping cost when I agreed to accept a PDF copy of the vital record instead of the hard copy I originally ordered?

No, the additional charge covers administrative processing and will not be refunded.