New York State birth certificate court orders

Every person applying for Italian dual citizenship must provide a “family tree” of documents including certified birth, marriage, death, and naturalization records showing their relationship with a qualifying Italian ancestor.​

Most of these documents are fairly easy to obtain by contacting the relevant county or state.

However, New York State has some of the toughest privacy laws in the nation. These laws severely restrict who has access to birth records belonging to deceased individuals. In New York State, to obtain certified copies of these records the interested party must obtain a court order.

In the legal industry, these are known as “Article 78 Proceedings.” They are used to appeal an agency’s decision – in this case, the Department of Health’s decision not to release a certain record.

Why are they called Article 78 proceedings?​

They are named after the section of New York law that establishes the rules for this kind of case: Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.

A court order may be avoided if the parent of the deceased individual on the record is still alive. A parent can request a certified copy of his or her child’s birth certificate, even if the person named in the document is deceased.

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Do you need an attorney to file an Article 78 proceeding?

No, but Article 78 proceedings are usually filed by attorneys so it may be difficult to file the papers you need by yourself. You can do an Article 78 proceeding on your own, but we strongly recommend you hire us to help.

​Genealogy copies

Without a court order, New York State only issues genealogy copies of deceased individuals’ birth certificates. Additionally, genealogy copies cannot be apostilled. As a consequence, Italy will not accept genealogy copies.

Therefore, if you need a certified copy of a restricted record, you must obtain a court order. Do not trust any service provider that promises they can obtain such a birth certificate without a court order.

​New York State vs. NYC

New York State has some of the most restrictive laws in the nation regarding vital records. However, the five boroughs of New York City are more lenient. Therefore, if your documents are from New York City (and not New York State) you most likely will not need a court order.

If your documents are from New York City, you have an easier time. When you require the birth certificate of a deceased individual, you do not need a court order. Simply provide a copy of the death certificate when making the request.

Court orders for birth certificates in New York State