Access to New York City Vital Records Could be Restricted

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) wants to bring awareness to an amendment that could restrict your access to New York City vital records. They ask that genealogists sign a petition and register an official comment online about the amendment.

The NYG&B describes the situation this way: “In 2017, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene proposed a new rule that would affect when birth and death records are made available to the public and transferred to the Department of Records and Information Services.”

“Although we fought this proposal hard, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently voted in March to pass the new rule – public access to birth records is now restricted to 125 years, and access to death records is now restricted to 75 years.”

“Thanks to your support in 2017, a new amendment to this rule proposed would allow more relatives access to birth and death records, but we don’t think this amendment goes far enough: These expansion still unnecessarily limit the ability for individuals to access these records for research purposes.”

The amendment proposes to expand the group of family members who can access birth and death records prior to their public release. The proposed group is within a close degree of consanguinity (blood relation) to the individual whose records are sought.

Relatives who can request a death certificate will be expanded to include: great-great grandchildren, nephews & nieces, aunts & uncles, grandnephews & grandnieces.

Relatives who can request a birth certificate of a deceased individual will be expanded to include: spouses & domestic partners, parents of children over the age of 18, children, siblings, nieces & nephews, aunts & uncles, grandchildren & great grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews.

The NYG&B feels that the amendment doesn’t go far enough for the following reasons:

Researchers often need to view the information on a person’s birth or death record before being able to correctly assert their relationship to that individual.

The categories exclude important family relationships. For example, the exclusion of step-relations from the list discriminates against thousands of families living in New York today. It also prevents adoptees from accessing information regarding their family history.

The amendment discriminated against non-family research. These rules may exclude entire groups and communities from having their history preserved. The greatly expanded time periods (which are among the most restrictive in the nation) prevent individuals from researching and educating others about important historical information such as military veterans, Holocaust survivors, and immigrant communities.

The deadline for sending in your comment about this amendment is April 23, 2018. Visit the NYG&B website to learn about how and where to send your comment, and to sign a petition.

Related Articles at

* OldNYC Maps Historic New York City

* New York City Marriage License Index

* Collections From New York City Library

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.