Deaths and General Vital Statistics Provisions (Articles 205 and 207) - Records of Death Information

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Monday, January 12, 2015
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 



Statement of Basis and Purpose


These amendments to the New York City Health Code (the Health Code) are promulgated pursuant to sections 556, 558, and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the Charter).  Section 556 of the Charter grants the Department jurisdiction to supervise and control the registration of deaths.  Sections 558(b) and 558(c) of the Charter empower the Board of Health (the Board) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the Department) extends. Section 558(c) of the Charter also empowers the Board of Health to provide for the examination and issuance of death certificates.  Section 1043 grants the Department rule-making authority.        


The amendments to sections 205.7, 207.11, and 207.13 of Articles 205 and 207 of the Health Code are intended to: (1) expand access to confidential medical reports of death for deaths that occurred prior to January 1, 2010; (2) clarify who may obtain a copy of a death certificate; and (3) expand access to fact-of-death information for specified benefit-paying parties, licensed doctors and attorneys, upon payment of a fee. 


The amendments amend Health Code section 205.07(a) to add siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren to the list of people who may access confidential medical reports of death.  Currently, section 205.07(a) allows the Department to release confidential medical reports of death for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2010.  Because there is no reason to treat reports of deaths occurring earlier differently, the amendments also delete the reference to that date and would allow the Department to release any available confidential medical report of death to an entitled person.


Health Code section 207.11 currently allows “persons or their representatives, who are agents of, or who otherwise have a legal or fiduciary obligation to such persons, as a relative, person in control of disposition, heir or beneficiary…” to inspect death records.  The current language has led to confusion about who is entitled to a decedent’s death record.  The amendments to section 207.11 clarify the classes of people entitled to inspect a confidential medical report of death, and align that list with the amendments to section 205.07.


Finally, Health Code section 207.13(e) allows the Department to issue verifications of information contained in death certificates and other vital statistics certificates to other governmental agencies upon request.  The amendments to that section will expand access to benefit-paying parties such as annuity companies and pension plans to terminate benefits upon death of a recipient, physicians and hospitals who demonstrate that such information is needed to determine whether a patient they are treating has died, and licensed attorneys who demonstrate that the information is necessary to administer an estate.  Additionally, because the Department anticipates providing verifications through an electronic system maintained by The National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, language has been added authorizing the Department to enact rules describing how the verifications will be provided.