Schenectady County

Schenectady adds rush fee for birth records

Want a birth certificate this minute? You’ll have to pay more for it at Schenectady City Hall.

Want a birth certificate this minute? You’ll have to pay more for it at Schenectady City Hall.

But those who are willing to wait two weeks will get their certificates in the mail without paying extra.

The priority fee will be $20; records that can be mailed to the applicant will cost $10.

With layoffs and vacancies left unfilled, City Hall workers are asked to do more. The change will allow a counter clerk at the city clerk’s office to more efficiently search for records, while leaving the counter immediately for only those records that are needed right now.

The clerk must usually search the vault for the correct records and then print out new copies. It’s far more efficient to search for a dozen records than to walk back and forth all day, the city says.

“They fill out the form, then when staff are available, they mail them all out,” City Clerk Charles Thorne said. “It would free people up. My deputy registrar, most of her day is birth and death certificates. There’s less manual labor to doing them in bulk.”

But, he said, many residents want their records immediately. Generally they tell him they need a birth certificate to get a license or passport, he said, and they want to finish their application s soon as possible.

He estimated that 60 percent of the customers would want to pay the extra $10 to get their records at once.

That would translate to about $120,000 in additional revenue for the city, he said.

Although birth certificates are the most popular record, the clerk can also provide legal copies of death and marriage certificates.

Those doing genealogical research can also purchase certificates dating back to 1882 for $22. Before a birth certificate can be purchased by someone other than a direct relative, the record must have been on file for at least 75 years and the person listed in the record must be deceased. An obituary can be used to prove the person has died.

A death certificate must have been on file for at least 50 years before it can be purchased by researchers, while a marriage certificate must have been on file for 50 years and both the bride and groom must be proven deceased.

The time periods are waived for direct descendants, who can generally prove their ancestry with their birth certificate, because it lists their parents.

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