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Frequently Asked Questions 


 

Status of request for vital record or photograph

Due to the volume of requests, the current processing time for birth, death and marriage certificate copies is approximately eight-to-twelve weeks.

Orders for photographs are processed in three-to-five weeks.

Please do not request status updates or "tracking" information unless the order has not been fulfilled for considerably longer than the periods specified above. Thank you.

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Did not receive complete order
The Municipal Archives often ships vital record copies separately even when ordered at the same time.

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Credit card denied
Many of our patrons 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. Contact us

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Date of Birth, death or marriage not known and/or certificate number 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 Ancestry.com and other commercial sites.  Please note that the on-line indexes to marriage records pertain only to marriages reported to the Health Department between 1866 and 1937.   Although there is not a searchable database index to the City Clerk license series (1908 - 1949), a pdf version of the original ledger-style index is available at the following website: https://archive.org/details/nycmarriageindex.

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Birth record from 1910 to present.
All inquiries regarding a birth certificate from 1910 to present – copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the Department of Health.

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Death record from 1949 to present
All inquiries regarding a death certificate from 1949 to present – copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the Department of Health.

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Marriage record from 1950 to present
All inquiries regarding a marriage record from 1950 to present – copies of certificates, amending the certificate, "long-form" certificate, etc. must be directed to the City Clerk.

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Marriage certificate versus marriage license
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” form 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:  the bride and groom's parents' country of birth and the bride’s occupation.  

The two series are filed and indexed separately.  On-line searchable indexes to the Health Department Certificates (1866-1937) are available for free via the local genealogy organizations Italian Genealogical Group and German Genealogical Group, as well as Ancestry.com and other commercial sites.  Please note that these on-line indexes to marriage records pertain ONLY to marriages reported to the Health Department between 1866 and 1937.  Although there is not a searchable database index to the City Clerk license series (1908-1949), a pdf version of the original ledger-style index is available at the website: https://archive.org/details/nycmarriageindex.

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How to Order a Marriage License Record, 1908 - 1949
The City Clerk marriage license/affidavit/certificate can be requested by mail order only:
 
Request a Search and/or Certified Copy by Mail - (in PDF).

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Requesting 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 outside New York City.

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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):

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Requesting 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 1930 cannot be amended or corrected.

All inquiries regarding amending a birth from 1910 to present, or death certificate from 1949 to present must be directed to the Department of Health.

Contact the City Clerk for all inquiries regarding amending a marriage record from 1930 to present.

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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).

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Using a camera or portable scanner in the Municipal Archives and Municipal Library. WiFi services
The use of a camera or portable scanner in the Municipal Archives reference room is not permitted. Municipal Library patrons may use a camera or scanner to copy documents.

We regret that WiFi service is currently unavailable in the Municipal Archives reference room and the Municipal Library.

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Copy services
When visiting the Archives, patrons may request certified paper copies of vital records over-the-counter for a charge of $11.00 each. There is not a self-service option for vital records. Patrons researching collections other than vital records may use the coin-operated self-service copy machine in the reference room. The charge is $.25 per copy. Self-service microfilm copies are $.50 per page (not available for vital records). The Municipal Library has a coin-operated self-service copier. The charge is $.25 per copy.

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House and building photographs
In 1939/40 and again in the mid-1980s the City photographed every house and building in all five boroughs. For information about the collection and how to view and/or order copies go to our Order Form

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Is it true that the Municipal Archives has photographs of every house in the city, taken around 1940? How can I see them and/or order copies?
Yes, between 1939 and 1940, New York City photographed every house and building in the five Boroughs for property tax assessment purposes. The photographs are not currently available on-line, but you view them on microfilm at the Municipal Archives during their regular opening hours. You can order copies of these photographs at the Municipal Archives, or by mail.

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How can I submit a FOIL Request to the NYC Department of Records and Information Services?
Please contact our FOIL Officer, Kenneth Cobb, via email (kcobb@records.nyc.gov).

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