Residents born in Jersey City can now obtain a copy of their birth certificate from local city offices, 14 years after a corruption scandal ended the practice of providing local documentation out of the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics.
By Corey McDonald/Hudson County View
State and local officials gathered outside the City Hall Annex on Martin Luther King Drive Thursday morning for the announcement. Mayor Stevem Fulop called it a “great thing for the county and Jersey City.”
“We’ve been working to make the often frustrating process of obtaining birth certificates easier for anyone born here, and I’m thrilled they can now get the documentation they need quickly and efficiently right here at City Hall,” he said.
Jersey City residents for years had to travel to Trenton if they wanted to obtain a copy of their birth certificate.
Having a birth certificate can be critical particularly for senior citizens applying for Medicare or Medicaid, as well as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“We’re making it right for our residents who now don’t have to spent extra time and money to obtain documents that could be critical in affecting their quality of life,” added Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31).
Other Hudson municipalities, including neighboring cities Bayonne and Hoboken, issue their own certificates.
The entity that previously distributed these documents for residents, the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics, was shut down in 2004 after an investigation uncovered a scandal to create and sell fraudulent birth certificates.
As a result, four people either pleaded guilty or were convicted of selling fake birth certificates.
McKnight, in 2017, sponsored legislation that would have allowed the city clerk to issue birth certificates, but then-Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed the bill.
He called it an empty gesture because the city did not get a sign off from the state department, according to NJTV.
However, the legislation “served as a catalyst” that sparked a conversation between the city and the U.S. Department of State, McKnight said. They later obtained final approval for the new Jersey City Office of Vital Statistics.
“This is something the residents of Jersey City have wanted for a long time,” State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-31) stated at the press conference.
For those born between 1918 and 2015, Jersey City will issue birth records from a database provided by the state’s registrar’s office.
And for those born in 2016 and after, Jersey City will use the State’s Vital Record Platform.
Once the state provides the city clerk’s office with the records this month, the turnaround time to obtain the documents from the city will be immediate, according to city spokeswoman Kim Wallace-Scalcione.
Residents seeking to obtain a birth certificate from the clerk’s office need to provide identification and complete an application for certified copies which can be found on the city’s website at www.JCNJ.org/BirthCertificates.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_