New York Public Records: How to Find Public Records in New York

New York Public Records: How to Find Public Records in New York

New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) legally entitles all residents to public record inspections. According to this law, public records include court records, arrest records, criminal history records, birth and death records, property records, and divorce records. These government-generated documents are also available for access to non-residents. 

These data may exist in physical or digital format and can be accessed through a custodial government agency. The New York record custodians offer paid and free public data searches to the public, and written requests can be submitted to obtain public records.

The following are answers to frequently asked questions covering how to find some of the most common types of public records in New York. 

What records are exempted from New York FOIL? 

Custodians may redact or withhold the following documents from public access, whether in part or whole, as stipulated in Section 87(2): 

Confidential or Personal Information: Includes personal information, such as medical histories or government personnel records, that could lead to an invasion of an individual's privacy are exempt. 

Sensitive Trade Information: Includes trade secrets and financial data belonging to businesses that must be protected from public view under Section 87(2)(d). 

Information on Qualification and Promotional Materials: Includes all testing or investigative materials used to determine appointments or promotions in federal and state government service. 

Law Enforcement Investigative Files: Includes documents compiled during law enforcement investigations that could compromise the case's integrity or jeopardize the safety of the persons involved.


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How long do I wait to receive public records from New York-controlled organizations?

You can expect to receive responses to your public records act requests in New York within a few minutes to five days. The Freedom of Information Law requires state or local agencies to respond to requests within five days and provide the requested document within 20 days. 

However, it is essential to note that eligibility requirements must be met to access public information maintained by a custodian within a short timeframe.

Who maintains birth records in New York? 

The State Department of Health keeps birth indexes dating back to 1881, available for public viewing in different cities nationwide. However, birth certificates for individuals born within the past 75 years can only be accessed by the person named on the certificate or their parents.

The NYC Health Department handles records within the five districts of New York City, while the State DOH is responsible for records outside NYC. 

Can anyone obtain marriage records in New York?

Marriage records of at least half a century old are considered public records and open to the general public. The State Department of Health maintains microfiche indexes of marriages outside of NYC, dating back to 1881. 

Meanwhile, the NYC Marriage Bureau of the city clerk's office holds marriage records from 1950. For older NYC marriage records dating from 1866 to 1949, individuals can request copies through the NYC Records & Information Services.

To obtain an accredited copy of a marriage license in New York, individuals can place an order with either the NY State Department of Health for marriages that occurred outside of NYC or the NYC Marriage Bureau of the city clerk's office for NYC marriages.


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What's the right way to access divorce records in New York?

Divorce records in New York are confidential and sealed from public access. This information is restricted to the parties involved in the divorce proceedings. 


However, divorce certificates, which contain limited information such as the names of the parties and the date and location of the divorce, are available to the general public. Only the parties involved can order a certified copy of the divorce certificate.

For divorces outside of New York City, you can collect them from the New York State Department of Health. For divorces that occurred within New York City, you can order them from the county clerk's office for the county where the divorce was granted.

How to lookup property Ownership in New York

To find property ownership in New York City, search ACRIS online for all boroughs except Staten Island. For Staten Island properties, use the Richmond County Clerk's website. 


Deeds for properties outside NYC can be obtained from the local county clerk. To get a genuine copy of a deed or title, use the appropriate website, depending on the property's location.

The New York State Comptroller deals with unclaimed property for the state. You can search for and report unclaimed property online or by mail, including for individuals, businesses, organizations, deceased owners, and estates. 

Where can you find criminal records in New York?

The Supreme Court and City Court levels handle felony cases. In contrast, City Courts, District Courts, Civil/Criminal Courts of New York City, and Town and County Justice Courts handle misdemeanors and DWI/DUI cases. 

Family Courts exclusively handle juvenile cases. Those seeking a criminal history search can obtain one through the New York State Office of Court Administration for $65 or opt for a country-specific search.


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How can I retrieve court records in New York?

New York's Unified Court System offers a range of tools for individuals to search for court cases online, including local, Supreme Court, criminal, and family cases. 


Users can visit the New York State Courts page to access the court locator feature and search for specific courts by county or type. Before searching, users must provide details such as attorney and index names. 

The online repository only contains non-confidential case information. To access private records, individuals with legal authority must contact the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court where the documents are located. 


In case of any queries related to court records or judicial matters, individuals can reach out to the Unified Court System through their contact us page. 

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