Translate This Page Print This Page Email a Friend Newsletter Sign-Up
Text Size : Sm Med Lg
Press Releases

New York City Seal
Press Release
New York City Department of Health
Office of Public Affairs
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin (DOH) | (212) 447-8232
Ellen Borakove | (OCME) (212) 447-2041
Tuesday, September 25, 2001


Under the leadership of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the New York City Department of Health (DOH) has worked with the City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and the Mayor's Criminal Justice Coordinator to ensure that families of victims of the World Trade Center disaster receive expedited copies of death certificates to aid with insurance and other issues.

Many families of victims of the tragedy may want death certificates to document the death of loved ones, even in the absence of human remains. To establish a method by which death certificates can be issued without jeopardizing the integrity of the proof required to legally verify death, the Health Department together with the OCME and the Mayor's Criminal Justice Coordinator has established a simple procedure that will allow the City to issue certificates to most families who request them. Volunteer legal assistance for this process will be made available by the American Bar Association, which will place lawyers at the Family Assistance Center to make this process as convenient for the victims' families as possible.

Mayor Giuliani said, "I want to thank Governor Pataki for his efforts to make it easier for families to obtain benefits even before death certificates are issued, and to thank all the City officials for their efforts in helping families who request them to get expedited copies of certificates. I would also like to express my gratitude to the American Bar Association and other legal organizations for making volunteer lawyers available for this process."

Beginning on Wednesday, September 26, 2001, families can go to Pier 94 at 54th Street and 12th Avenue to receive help in securing a death certificate. Volunteer lawyers at that site will help families to file affidavits on behalf of those who are missing. The certificates will be expedited through a court process, be delivered to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and then be delivered to the Health Department for registration. By order of Mayor Giuliani, ten certified copies of the death certificate will be sent overnight mail, free-of-charge, to the designated family member. The goal is to expedite this process within a week's time. Families who live outside of New York City can access the affidavit forms from the City's Web site ( All families can call (646) 710-6245 if they need additional information.

For each missing person, two affidavits will need to be completed. One affidavit will have to attest to personal information about the missing loved one; the second will have to be filled out by the missing individual's employer or, for airline passengers, certification by the airline will be required. In these cases, it is expected that the Court's action will be quickly decided without a court appearance and without the need for a hearing or other legal proceedings.

Where employment records are unavailable or a missing individual was visiting the World Trade Center, family members or others with personal knowledge of the individual's whereabouts will be asked to file an affidavit attesting to the fact that the missing loved one was in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, and has not appeared since. In this instance, it may be necessary for the Court to hold a hearing on the facts surrounding the individual's disappearance, to determine the basis for the belief that the individual was in the World Trade Center, and to establish the efforts to locate the missing loved one.

For legal advice related to wills, settlement of estates and other related issues in New York, individuals can call the New York State Bar Association (877) HELP-321, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York County Lawyers Association, the latter two of which can be reached at (212) 626-7373. For estates to be probated in New Jersey, individuals can call the New Jersey State Bar Association at (888) 541-1900. For estates to be probated in Connecticut, the Connecticut Bar Association is at (203) 327-7041.

Additional information about this process is available on the City's Web site at