Occasionally, we need to find the most important document we own: a Birth Certificate. If you don’t have a New York State driver’s license, your birth certificate may be one of the only ways to prove your identity and obtain such documents as a passport, a property or vehicle title, a copy of your social security card, or even the very driver’s license that you need.
If you're lucky, you had meticulous parents who locked your birth certificate away in a fireproof box years ago and it's still safe in your files. If not, you'll have to get a new copy or you just may find yourself without a birth certificate when you need it most.
In the case of New York City births, if the birth occurred after 1909 (which yours probably did), and occurred within the five boroughs, you can obtain the certificate from the New York City Department Of Health Office of Vital Records.
There are a few ways to go about this:
- The easiest and most current way to get a copy is to apply online, via the NYC.gov website. You can order a copy of your birth certificate online and it will be sent to you by a company called VitalChek. You'll pay $15 for the copy of your birth certificate and a $8.30 processing fee. Additional fees apply for rush processing, FedEx delivery, and multiple copies.
- In some cases, you may need to submit supporting documents to obtain your Certificate, and you may need to apply by mail. These cases include lost or stolen long form certificates, or correcting a mistake on a birth certificate (this not not include changes you want to make). Keep in mind, applications submitted by mail will require at least 30 days to process.
- Some of you may need to quickly obtain a passport, which in turn may require a birth certificate. If you have a booked flight within the next 3 months, you may go to the Vital Records office to obtain the certificate in-person. You’ll need to bring the hard copies of your flight information to prove you need the certificate in a rush. This option may take several hours to complete, so plan the day accordingly.
- If you’re trying to obtain an old birth certificate for genealogy purposes, birth certificates issued before 1910 can be found in the New York State office specifically for older documents: The New York City Office of Municipal Archives.
For a small fee, you can request that the city search for the desired name and certificate, and send you a numbered copy for your records. Be sure to provide accurate and detailed information for the search, and also keep in mind, a century ago, not all births were even reported to the city. If there is no record found of what you are looking for, the city will alert you to a "not found" return.