From: Jobin-Davis, Camille (DOS)
Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2007 2:38 PM
Subject: FW: Freedom of Information Law - fees
Thank you for sending the fax. Because the form referenced "statutory fees", I searched the Public Health Law and found the following provision:
Public Health Law section 4174(3): "For any search of the files and records conducted for authorized genealogical or research purposes, the commissioner or any person authorized by him shall be entitled to, and the applicant shall pay, a fee of twenty dollars for each hour or fractional part of an hour of time of search, together with a fee of two dollars for each uncertified copy or abstract of such record requested by the applicant or for a certification that a search discloses no record."
Accordingly, I believe the Department of Health has the authority to charge for searches for the types of records you have requested. And, based on the statement on the fax you sent, that the Department of Health has authorized City Clerks to search for records, the City, would be permitted to collect the fee on the State's behalf. A quick search of our advisory opinions confirms my opinion: http://docs.dos.ny.gov/coog/ftext/f15231.htm
Because the authority for additional fees is set forth in the statute, I have included a copy of the full text of the statute, set forth after my signature.
My apologies for the initial confusion. Please call me if you have further questions.
Camille S. Jobin-Davis, Esq.
NYS Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany NY 12231
(518) 474-1927 fax
§ 4174. Records; transcripts and certifications by commissioner; fees
1. The commissioner or any person authorized by him shall:
(a) upon request, issue to any applicant either a certified copy or a certified transcript of the record of any death registered under the provisions of this chapter (1) when a documented medical need has been demonstrated, (2) when a documented need to establish a legal right or claim has been demonstrated, (3) when needed for medical or scientific research approved by the commissioner, (4) when needed for statistical or epidemiological purposes approved by the commissioner, (5) upon specific request by municipal, state or federal agencies for statistical or official purposes, (6) upon specific request of the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased or the lawful representative of such persons, or (7) pursuant to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction on a showing of necessity; except no certified copy or certified transcript of a death record shall be subject to disclosure under article six of the public officers law;
(b) issue certified copies or certified transcripts of birth certificates only (1) upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or (2) upon specific request therefor by the person, if eighteen years of age or more, or by a parent or other lawful representative of the person, to whom the record of birth relates, or (3) upon specific request therefor by a department of a state or the federal government of the United States;
(c) upon request, issue a wallet-size certification of birth, in a form and bearing a design provided by the commissioner. Each applicant for a wallet-size certification of birth shall remit to the commissioner with such application, a fee determined by the department;
(d) upon request, issue certification of birth or death unless in his judgment it does not appear to be necessary or required for a proper purpose;
(e) furnish non-identifiable statistical information in tabular or machine readable format for research activities if satisfied that the same is required for a proper purpose, and the commissioner is authorized to fix and to require payment of a fee sufficient to compensate the state for the expense of providing the requested information;
(f) be deemed to have complied with the applicable provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision by the issuance of a certified transcript of the desired certificate or record instead of a certified copy thereof except where the requester shall show, to the satisfaction of the commissioner or his authorized representative, a demonstrated need for such certified copy, or where a court order rendered pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (b) of this subdivision contains an express recital or direction therein that the issuance of a certified transcript of such certificate or record in place of a certified copy thereof shall not be considered to be in compliance therewith;
(g) upon request of a board of elections, issue certification of death.
2. Each applicant for a certification of birth or death, certificate of birth data or for a certified copy or certified transcript of a birth or death certificate or certificate of birth data shall remit to the commissioner with such application a fee of thirty dollars in payment for the search of the files and records and the furnishing of a certification, certified copy or certified transcript if such record is found or for a certification that a search discloses no record of a birth or of a death.
3. For any search of the files and records conducted for authorized genealogical or research purposes, the commissioner or any person authorized by him shall be entitled to, and the applicant shall pay, a fee of twenty dollars for each hour or fractional part of an hour of time of search, together with a fee of two dollars for each uncertified copy or abstract of such record requested by the applicant or for a certification that a search discloses no record.
4. No fee shall be charged for a search, certification, certificate, certified copy or certified transcript of a record to be used for school entrance, employment certificate or for purposes of public relief or when required by the veterans administration to be used in determining the eligibility of any person to participate in the benefits made available by the veterans administration or when required by a board of elections for the purposes of determining voter eligibility.
5. (a) The United States social security administration may obtain information from death certificates needed in the administration of old-age and survivors insurance benefits laws, subject to the provisions of any contract entered into pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subdivision.
(b) In addition, the commissioner or any person authorized by the commissioner is authorized and directed to enter into a contract to furnish the federal secretary of health and human services information concerning individuals with respect to whom death certificates have been officially filed with the commissioner. Such contract shall not include any restriction on the use of information obtained by such secretary pursuant to such contract, except that such contract may provide that such information is only to be used by the secretary (or any other federal agency) for purposes of ensuring that federal benefits or other payments are not erroneously paid to deceased individuals.
6. The federal agency in charge of vital statistics may obtain, at a fee acceptable to the commissioner, information from birth and death certificates for use solely as statistical data.
7. Except as herein otherwise provided, the commissioner is authorized to establish rules and regulations whereby searches may be made and certifications, certified copies and certified transcripts of birth and death certificates furnished without fees to federal, state and municipal departments for official purposes.
8. The commissioner, the commissioner of health of the city of New York, or any person authorized by the commissioner having jurisdiction shall immediately notify the division of criminal justice services in the event that a copy of a birth certificate or information concerning the birth records of any person whose record is flagged pursuant to > paragraph (i) of subdivision two of section four thousand one hundred of this article is requested. In the event that a copy of the birth certificate of a person whose record is so flagged is requested in person, the personnel accepting the request shall immediately notify his or her supervisor. The person making the request shall complete a form as prescribed by the commissioner or, in the city of New York, the commissioner of health of the city of New York, which shall include the name, address and telephone numbers and social security number of the person making the request. A motor vehicle operator's license, or if such license is not available, such other identification as the commissioner, or in the city of New York, the commissioner of the New York city department of health, determines to be satisfactory, of the person making the request shall be presented, shall be photocopied and returned to him or her. The person receiving the request shall note the physical description of the person making the request and his or her supervisor shall immediately notify the local law enforcement authority as to the request and the information obtained pursuant to this subsection. When a copy of the birth certificate of a person whose record has been flagged is requested in writing, the law enforcement authority having jurisdiction shall be notified as to the request and shall be provided with a copy of the written request. The registrar shall retain the original written response.
9. The commissioner may institute an additional fee of fifteen dollars for priority handling for each certification, certified copy or certified transcript of certificates of birth, death, or dissolution of marriage; or fifteen dollars for priority handling for each certification, certified copy or certified transcript of certificate of marriage.