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See ya, Trenton! Jersey City making birth certificates available

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JERSEY CITY — For the first time in nearly 20 years, people who were born in Jersey City between 1918 and 2015 don’t have to go to Trenton for a copy of their birth certificate.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight announced Monday that the birth certificates can now be obtained directly from City Hall, eliminating delays and added costs of ordering them from the State Registrar’s Office in the state capital.

The state Department of Health (DOH) ceased all operations from the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics in 2004 when an investigation uncovered a county-level scheme to create and sell fraudulent birth records within the county office.

Fulop said the City Clerk’s Office worked with the State Registrar’s Office to obtain the birth records and establish a localized database enabling the city to provide anyone born in Jersey City between 1918 and 2015 with certified copies of their birth certificates from City Hall, at 280 Grove Street.

The city first announced the effort in September 2019 with a major press conference.

“This is an important day for Jersey City as we have worked to create a comprehensive system that removes the potential for future corruption while rectifying an unfair situation where, for two decades, the community ultimately suffered the consequences as a result of county-level corruption,” Fulop said.

Following a 2004 scandal in which county workers sold fake birth certificates, the Motor Vehicle Commission began refusing to issue or to renew driver’s licenses and identification cards to anyone offering birth certificates issued before 1965 by the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics in Jersey City as proof of identity.

The Department of Health ceased all operations within the county and forcing anyone born in Jersey City seeking to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate to travel to Trenton to get it or request it online, which would take a minimum of six weeks unless an expediting fee was paid.

“I have worked with the city, state, and federal government on making birth certificates available in Jersey City since I became elected to office because it truly pained me to know that residents had to go through so much red tape to access something as important and necessary to them as a birth certificate,” McKnight said. “Residents should never have had to travel far, pay extra money, and wait over six weeks to get such a personal, vital certificate.

The new, comprehensive database established by Jersey City is corruption-proof, officials said.

“Providing birth records is a critical function of this office that we take very seriously, and we are handling the operation just as we have successfully been issuing marriage licenses for decades,” City Clerk Sean Gallagher said. “I’m confident by bringing these services home to Jersey City, we will improve access to vital records for residents and all those born in Jersey City.”

The Jersey City Clerk’s Office will start accepting requests for birth records both by mail and in-person by appointment only. To request an in-person appointment, please call 201-547-5051. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone looking to obtain certified copies must complete an application, which can be found in English and Spanish on the city’s website here. Proof of identification is required, such as a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID. The cost is $15 for the first copy and $5 for each additional copy. For those born after 2015, Jersey City will continue to use the State’s Vital Record Platform.

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