New York Public Records

Like many states, New York has a statewide Freedom of Information Law. This law helps ensure that the public has access to information contained in public records. However, there is always tension between the public’s right to information and the individual right to privacy. Generally, if the state retains information in its public records, then that information is subject to FOIL requests, unless it has been specifically exempted under state or federal laws, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, interfere with law enforcement, or reveal trade of business secrets.

New York State’s Human Rights Law § 296(16) specifically addresses the use of criminal records in background checks in the employment context. It prohibits employers from inquiring about arrest or criminal records that are not currently pending, which were favorably resolved, which were resolved by a youthful offender adjudicated, or which resulted in a sealed conviction. In addition to employers, insurers, licensing agencies, and credit companies are prohibited from seeking that information.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in New York

More About New York

New York has approximately 19.8 million residents, and is the fourth-most populous state in the United States, it is located in the northeastern United States. It is home to the nation’s largest city, New York City, and the majority of the state’s population lives in the New York City Metropolitan area. New York City, and therefore, the State of New York, are considered cultural, financial, and media leaders, which means that they attract people from outside of the state for visits and to live there. This is important to keep in mind, because any public records search of a New York resident should always consider the possibility that the person came from another area.


New York Vital Records

Vital statistics refer to the type of records that are filed with the government and track people. Birth and death records are considered vital records, but so are marriage and divorce records.

Birth Records

The New York State Department of Health handles birth certificates for all of New York State except for New York City births, which are handled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Death Records

Death certificates for all of New York State except New York City are handled by the New York State Department of Health. New York City deaths records are handled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Marriage Records

The New York State Department of Health handles marriage certificates for all of New York State except for New York City marriages, which are handled by the New York City Marriage Bureau.

Divorce Records

There are two types of divorce records. The actual divorce decree is filed with the County Clerk of the county in which the divorce took place. For divorces occurring after 1963, the State of New York also issues a divorce certificate.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


Learn about New York criminal records, NY Property Records, or read about public records in another state from the list below: