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Frequently Asked Questions

Birth Certificates

Death Certificates

Genealogy

Birth Certificates

Q. How can I obtain a birth certificate?
A. There are several ways to obtain a new birth certificate from this office. Click here to visit our main page, then click on “How to Order a Certificate” in the menu on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

Q. I have a birth certificate, but it doesn’t have a raised seal. How can I get a raised seal on my current birth certificate?
A.
We are not able to stamp your old birth certificate with a raised seal. To get a raised seal copy, you will need to order a new certificate. Click here to visit our main page, then click on “How to Order a Certificate” in the menu on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

Q. I don’t have a valid picture ID and I need to obtain a birth certificate. What other forms of ID can I use? Can I use an expired driver’s license?
A.
An expired license cannot be used for identification. If you do not have another form of photo ID with signature, you can instead submit copies of 2 forms of signature ID. This could include your social security card, a benefits card, a sheriff's ID, even a credit card. In cases where the signature is on the back you will need to photocopy the front and back. Another option is to have your signature notarized and submit that document as proof of identification.

Q. Who is entitled to get a copy of a birth certificate?
A.
The only individuals who are able to receive certified copies of birth certificates are those listed on the original birth certificate (mother, father or child). The person (applicant) making the request must be one of the above.

Q. Can I order a birth certificate on behalf of someone else?
A.
Yes, but you must order the certificate in person and you must have a signed letter from the entitled person authorizing you to obtain the certificate on their behalf. You must also have a copy of that person’s identification.

Q. I am the legal guardian of someone, but I’m not listed on their birth certificate. How do I get a copy?
A.
In order to obtain a copy of the birth certificate, you must provide court certified legal guardianship papers that have been date stamped within the last year.

Q. How can I make corrections to a birth certificate that I have?
A.
If the birth was recent (within the past year), you should contact the birth hospital to see if they will make the changes. If not, you will need to contact the New York State Department of Health Office of Vital Records at: vr@health.ny.us, or by phone at (855) 322-1022. They will let you know what documentation is required to make the appropriate changes.

 

Death Certificates

Q. How can I get a copy of a death certificate?
A.
To get a copy of a death certificate, you must be an entitled party. Entitled parties include the spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased. If you are the child of the deceased, you must provide a copy of your birth certificate showing your parents' names as proof of your relationship. If you are not one of the above, a letter or document on letterhead from the office or agency that needs the death certificate for a legal purpose must be submitted with the request. They must specifically state that they need a copy of the decedent’s certificate and it must be signed by a representative of the agency or office. Click here to visit our main page, then click on “How to Order a Certificate” in the menu on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

Q. How can I make a correction to a death certificate?
A.
If the death was recent, you should be able to have the correction made by contacting the funeral director who handled the arrangements.

 

Genealogy

Q. How can I request a genealogy search?
A.
Genealogy searches can be requested in person or by mail. Click here to visit our main page, then choose “Genealogy” in the menu on the left-hand side of the page for more information.

Q. How far back do your records go?
A.
Records for the City of Syracuse date back to 1873. For the rest of Onondaga County the earliest record date varies; records can go back as far as 1883.

Q. How do I know if the record exists before paying for the search?
A. The Onondaga County Public Library, Central Branch, houses the Local History and Genealogy Department. Because our search fee is nonrefundable, you may wish to contact them to determine if the record you are looking for exists and where it is located prior to placing your order with the Office of Vital Statistics. You can reach the library at lhg@onlib.org or 315-435-1900.

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