If you want to order a certificate, you first have to know that there are some exceptions. The State Department of Health does not have vital records from the Cities of Albany, Buffalo and Yonkers prior to January 1, 1914. To obtain records from these cities for those dates write to:
- Albany City Clerk, Room 202, City Hall, Albany, NY 12207
- Buffalo City Clerk, Room 1308, 65 Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY 14202
- Yonkers City Clerk, Room 107, City Hall, Yonkers, NY 10701
You then have to decide if you want to write to the Town or the State. The Town is going to be faster but they are going to send you an extracted record which sometimes doesn’t include all the information. Plus the record might not be recorded in the place of residence. The only way to be sure of where it is recorded is if you have checked the vital record index. If you order from the State Department of Health, you will get a copy of the original but currently they are taking 5 months or more to reply. At one time they were a year behind in sending certificates so they have been getting better. A certified copy is $30 but there is an uncertified genealogy copy that is slightly cheaper. The current price structure for a search for the State is $22 for search of 1 to 3 years; $42 for searching 4 to 10 years and upwards from there. There is an online order form (in PDF format) that can be used to order a certificate.
What if you want a certificate more recent than the 75 years for birth certificates and 50 years for death and marriage certificates? You may be able to get them but it is difficult as you have to have proof of relationship. To obtain a birth certificate, you have to submit a death certificate. To obtain a marriage certificate, you have to submit death certificates of both the bride and groom.
Since about 1995 or 1996 a death certificate was required to be filed with all probate cases brought in Surrogate Court. That is the court in NY State that deals with estates. Those courts will make uncertified copies of the death certificate for $1 or less. The main problem is that you would have to go to the Court Clerk in person as that Court charges a fee of $90 for searches via mail.
With all the hurtles that New York State puts on you it is possible to obtain vital records if you spend the time and money to go through the process correctly. For further research see the NY State Department of Health web page.