Overall, the state of New York began to collect vital record registrations in 1880 but it took about a decade for all areas to start doing it regularly. Many smaller counties have their own records from this time, and occasionally quite a bit older. In some towns, there may even be some birth records that date to the mid 1600s (though they are pretty rare).
The main source for New York birth records from 1880 to the present is the Vital Records section of the Department of Health. There are strict regulations on who can request a birth record though, and you can only do so if the record is your own or your child. Even other immediate family members are not permitted. This is for an official certified copy of a birth certificate.
You can also get older records without the red-tape, for any that are at least 75 years old and the person on the record is now deceased. These records are free to access by anyone and are considered to be part of public record. You can also get a non-certified copy of a New York birth record if you are a direct descendant of the person though you will have to provide proof to this effect.
For the certified copies, you will have to put in an application with the Department of Health. You will be sending all your forms, fees and documentation to: New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Certification Unit, PO Box 2602, Albany NY 12220-2602 USA. This is for regular applications. They accept Priority applications at another address for faster processing: New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Certification Unit, 800 North Pearl Street, Menands NY, 12204 USA.
A standard request for a New York birth record will cost you $30 and a Priority one is $45 USD. A regular request can take between 6 and 8 weeks to get processed and a priority one will take 2 to 3 weeks. You can also include a pre-paid mailer for overnight service if you can't wait for the mail. The fees have to be paid by check or money order, made out to the New York State Department of Health.
Forms for a certified record can be found on their website (http://www.health.state.ny.us/vital_records/forms/doh-4380.pdf) and all the current fee and regulation information is on them. Fill out the required information, include a copy of your own identification and the fees.
As mentioned earlier, you can also get older New York birth records and non-certified records with less difficulty. These are referred to as genealogical copies and require a different form (http://www.health.state.ny.us/vital_records/forms/doh-4384.pdf). These applications are sent to the same address as the regular requests mentioned above but to the Genealogy Unit instead of the Certification Unit. The cost for a genealogy record is $22 USD. There are added costs if you don't know the birth date and need them to search beyond 3 years (a 3 year search is included in the base fee).
When requesting a genealogy record, the wait time can be several months (currently the wait is 5 months) but you can get faster service if you contact the local county registrar instead of the central office.
Requesting New York Birth Certificates By Mail
To order a New York Birth Certificate by mail for a person born in New York but outside of New York City, you will need to complete a New York Birth Certificate form.
Identification must be included with your request. You can include a copy of your government-issued photo ID or two of the alternative forms of identification, such as utility bills or letters from a government agency.
For non-expedited orders, you will need to include a check or money order in the amount $30. Return the application, identification, and payment to the Department of Health.
If you need additional help accessing New York birth records, then you can contact:
New York Department of Health
New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Section
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602
How To Obtain New York Birth Records
If you are looking for a New York birth record for someone born in the state, then the New York State Department of Health can help with the access for all records, except those for persons born in New York City. New York birth records for persons born in New York City can be obtained through the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Ways To Place An Order
There are three ways that you can place an order for New York birth records for persons born outside of New York City: mail, internet, and telephone. Internet, telephone, and expedited mail orders are subject to an additional fee.
Who Can Place An Order?
Unless there is an order by a New York State Court, the only people allowed to request New York birth records are the person listed on the record and his or her parents. Spouses, children, and other interested parties can only request New York birth record requests with a court order.