Rules about access to New York City vital records (births, deaths)

Reclaim The Records filed this request with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of New York City, NY.
Tracking #




From: Reclaim The Records

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the New York State Freedom of Information Law (1977 N.Y. Laws ch. 933), I hereby request the following records:

1) Please provide a copy of all laws, documents, memos, e-mails, and other files related to public access to vital records (birth certificates, birth indices or extracts or books or databases, death certificates, and death indices or extracts or books or databases) held by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
2) Please include any agency documents related to past, present, or proposed future privacy restriction time periods for these records.
3) Please include any agency documents about the potential differences between an extract or book or database of these records, as compared to the actual certificates.
4) Please include any agency documents that may relate to the status of New York City records compared to New York State's more lenient policies for non-NYC records.
5) Please also include any agency documents about the distinction between public access to a non-certified "genealogical" or informational copy of these records, and certified copies only available to qualified members of the public, such as the direct descendants of a deceased person.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. Please be advised that this FOIL request is being filed publicly through the website, and all correspondence about this request will be immediately published to the general public.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.


Brooke Schreier Ganz
Founder, Reclaim The Records

From: Chari Anhouse

Dear Ms. Ganz:

Please be advised that access to vital records is within the jurisdiction of the New York City Board of Health. Advice on applicable laws and their meaning is beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Law (NYS Public Officers Law Article 6, "FOIL").

You request for documents related to vital records access in the possession of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is denied because they are either:

1. Intra-agency communications not containing statistical or factual tabulations or data; instructions to staff that affect the public; final agency policy or determinations; or external audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government (FOIL § 87(2)(g)); or

2. Attorney-client communications protected and/or attorney work product protected by NYS Civil Practice Law and Rules § 4503 and § 3101 respectively (FOIL § 87(2)(a)).

You may file a written appeal of this denial within 30 days of the date of this message. The appeal should be addressed to:

Thomas Merrill, Esquire

Appeals Officer & General Counsel

42-09 28th Street, CN-30

Long Island City, NY 11101

The notice of appeal should include the request control number, the date of this denial message, a description of the records that were the subject of the request, the specific legal grounds for your appeal, and the full name and address of the original requester.

Thank you,
Chari Anhouse
Associate General Counsel/Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
General Counsel's Office
42-09 28th Street, CN-31
Long Island City, NY 11101


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