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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

The Erie County Clerk's Office processes over 2 million transactions per year. Because of the variety of services we provide, it can be difficult to discern whether an issue is related to our office and if so, which department you should contact. Below are some common questions you may have about what our office does, as well as answers and appropriate contact information in the case that our office is unable to fulfill your request. If your question does not appear on the list below, please contact us by e-mail at or by calling our Customer Service Line at (716) 858-8785.

How can I find information on criminal records?

Contact our criminal records department at (716) 858-8785 Option 2, 2 or come into the Clerk’s Office, Actions & Proceedings to research on the public criminal records computer.

How do I obtain adoption records?

Current and recent adoption records are maintained by Erie County Surrogate Court, the telephone number of which is (716) 845-2560.  Adoption proceedings, however, are sealed records and are not usually made available to anyone, including a party to the action.  To obtain a copy of the record, you are required to obtain a Court Order.

How would I find out who currently owns a piece of property?

The property tax assessor of the Town or City where the property is located can help you find out who owns a piece of property.  Many of the local municipalities now maintain online records. 

Can I check my property taxes online?

Yes, County and Town Real Property taxes may be searched by going to this website and clicking on “Tax Inquiry” at the top of the page.  Properties may be searched by address, owner or tax identifier number (SBL). For information regarding school, village, or special district taxes, please contacts the district or entity issuing the bill. 

I lost my Social Security card. Can you issue a replacement?

Social Security Cards are issued by the Social Security Office, located at 186 Exchange Street, Buffalo, NY, 14204 or through a Social Security Office in your neighborhood. The national help line is 1-800-772-1213, and you can obtain a form to replace a Social Security Card as well as information on the location of offices and available services on the website at

Where can I get a copy of a will?

A copy of a Will currently or previously probated may be obtained from the Erie County Surrogate’s Court or may be reviewed by going to the Surrogate’s Court Offices at 92 Franklin Street,  2nd Floor,  Buffalo, New York 14202.  Wills that are filed for safekeeping are not public record.  For more information, the Court can be reached at (716) 845-2560.

Certified copies of a Will admitted to probate in another county may be filed in Erie County where the Will affects real property located in Erie County; the cost for the filing is $45 plus $5 per page.

How do I get a Certificate of Residence?

Certificates of Residence for permanent Erie County Residents are provided by the Erie County Comptroller’s Office; for more information, click here.

Where can I get a motor vehicle accident report?

Under circumstances where the property damage exceeds a certain statutory limit, all of the drivers involved are required to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident, available through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  Under other circumstances, the accident reports are issued by the responding police force and can be obtained from  the municipality where the accident occurred.  In addition, for a limited time, you may obtain a Report from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  More information may be found here.

Where can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

Birth records are available through the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the city or town where the birth occurred.  For those born in the City of Buffalo, the record may be requested by contacting the City of Buffalo, Vital Records Office at (716) 851-5432. Their office is located in City Hall, 65 Niagara Square, Buffalo NY 14202.


  • Enclose a written request with the following information: name on birth certificate, date of birth, father's name and mother's maiden name
  • Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope
  • Money order in the amount of $10.00 payable to the City Clerk
  • Copy of valid identification (Refer to link below)
  • Proof of address if your address on your ID is not current

For further information, please go to:

You may also contact the New York State Health Department for information on such records by visiting

The New York State Department of Health does not accept credit cards or on-line orders for vital records. However, for your convenience, you can process on-line requests through VitalChek Network, Inc., an independent company that NYS has partnered with in order to provide this service. VitalChek can be reached either through its website,, or by phone at 1-877-854-4481. An additional fee is charged by VitalChek for using this service. VitalChek accepts all major credit cards.

Where can I get a copy of my marriage license/certificate?

To obtain a copy of a marriage license, contact the town or city where the license was purchased.  You may also contact the New York State Health Department to request a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Additional marriage certificate information.

How can I file for an uncontested divorce?

Uncontested Divorce Packets and Instructions are available online at the Office of Court Administration website at  You may also wish to contact the 8th Judicial District Court Help Center at 77 West Eagle, Buffalo, New York 14202.

How do I get a copy of my deed?

Head over to the General Rules for Requesting Information page.

I am sending documents to a foreign country and have been told to obtain an Apostille.  How do I do that?

An Apostille is an authentication of a document issued pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an Apostille.   The Apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.

You should first confirm that the country to which you are forwarding the document is a party to the Hague Convention Treaty.  This can be done by requesting the requirements for acceptance of foreign documents by the receiving country (the country to which you are sending your documents).  If that is not possible, you may check the list of countries by going to

The original document(s)  must either be acknowledged or sworn to and have an original signature of a Notary Public, Commissioner of Deeds, or, in the case of a Birth Certificate, the stamped signature of a Registrar of Vital Statistics with a raised seal.   The Notary Public, Commissioner of Deeds, or Registrar must be commissioned in Erie County.   Original documents will contain original signatures, stamps, or raised seals.

Please NOTE:  Education documents (transcripts, diplomas or certificates) must be obtained from an official of the school, college or university who must certify that the document is an official record or a true copy of the original document.  The official’s signature must be notarized by a notary public.  The document is then be presented to the County Clerk’s Office in the county where the notary public is qualified.

Other documents may have special requirements and you should check with the Clerk’s Office regarding the type of document that you are authenticating.

The original document must then be presented to the Office of the County Clerk for authentication.   The fee is $3 per authentication.

In order for this document to be accepted in the foreign country, it will be necessary for the Apostille to be attached to the document by a representative of the New York State Department of State.   The document should be accompanied by the Authentication / Apostille Request available at   The new form allows payment by credit card to the Albany Department of State office ONLY.  One form can be used to order Apostille for multiple documents that are going to the same country.

More information may be found at

If you are requesting authentication of federal documents, i.e., FBI reports, the documents must be authenticated by the US Department of State Authentications Office.  Instructions for authentication may be found at

The Request Form for Authentications (federal documents) may be found at:   AFTER MARCH, 2012, a barcode is required; the requester MUST complete the form online.

NOTE:  Documents requiring certifications with an apostille by the U.S. Department of State are those that have been signed by a federal official with the official Seal of that agency, American Consular Officer, Military Notary (10 USC 1044a) or Foreign Consul (Diplomat Officials must be registered with the Office of Protocol).  Note: These documents must include the official's title and his/her signature must be legible.  Please also note that the U.S. Department of State will not issue an apostille for State-issued documents.

Do you have my bankruptcy papers?

No.  Petitions for Bankruptcy are filed with the federal bankruptcy court. The office in Buffalo (United State Bankruptcy Court, Western District of New York) is at Olympic Towers, Suite 250, 300 Pearl Street, Buffalo NY 14202.   More information can be found at or by calling (716) 362-3200.

However, if a certified copy of a Certificate of Abandonment regarding real property that you owned at the time that you filed bankruptcy or a certified copy of Certificate of Discharge to prove that debts were discharged in bankruptcy were filed in the Clerk’s Office, either document may be found in the Public Records indexed under your name.   

Under rare circumstances, a copy of your Bankruptcy Petition may have been filed in the public records, and you may obtain a copy from us; however, the official copy is filed in the Bankruptcy Court and you may obtain a certified copy of your petition from that court.

What do I need in order to get a passport?

The Erie County Clerk’s Office can take your picture and process your passport application Monday through Friday 9am-5pm at 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.  You will need to bring your original or certified copy of birth certificate with the raised seal, your driver's license or other state-issued photo ID.  Payment  for the Passport Book or Passport Card can be made by check or money order to the Department of State and the processing/photo fee may be paid by cash or credit card. Please note that the bank will assess a small fee for use of your credit card.

More information can be found at

Where do I find a list of fees for my transaction?

The fees for your transaction can be found on the information page, if any, that discusses the type of transaction.  For example, if you are inquiring about the cost of recording a deed, you may find the information in the page entitled, “How to Record Your Deed.”  A more comprehensive schedule of fees for many common transactions can be found on the Land Records page.

Is the conveyance of commercial real estate subject to transfer tax? If so, who is responsible for paying, Buyer or Seller?

New York Tax Law Articles 31 and 31-A cover, respectively, New York State and the Special Additional Erie County real estate transfer tax.   In short, all real estate conveyances are subject to transfer tax unless either the party responsible for paying or the transaction is exempt.  There is no distinction between commercial or residential transactions regarding the rate of transfer tax;  the amount of tax based upon the consideration or sales price of the transfer.  Transfer tax in Erie County is calculated at a rate of $4.50 per $500 of consideration and consists of the New York State Transfer Tax at a rate of $2.00 per $500 of consideration and the Erie County Transfer Tax in the amount of $2.50 per $500 of consideration. The transfer tax is an obligation of the Seller; however, the parties may contractually provide otherwise.

I understand by joining a snowmobile club, I can register my snowmobile at a decreased rate. If so, how do I join one of these clubs?

The website for joining a snowmobile club is

I am thinking of forming a business. Where can I get information about what I need to file?

General information about the types of business entities and considerations in starting your own business can be found the New York Department of State website, and more particularly at the following internet addresses:

Additional information for filing a Business Certificate, commonly known as a "DBA" Certificate can be found under the “Business Center” tab on this website.  

How do I find out if a business name that I would like to use is already registered?

You will want to search the name you are choosing to do business under before filing your Assumed Name (Business) Certificate and the search is easiest done at the Clerk's Office; however, you may go online to to check the records from 1994 to present. Searching earlier than 1994 will require you to search Business Certificate books in person. A Business Certificate is terminated and use of the Assumed Name terminated when a Discontinuance is filed. It is possible that someone may be doing business under a name registered prior to 1994.

Additional information for filing a "DBA" Certificate can be found under the "Business Center" heading on this website.

How do I amend my Business (“DBA”) Certificate?

If you are amending your certificate to correct an address or other contact information, you may file an Amended Business Certificate. Download the Amended Business Certificate form from our Business Center page, or it can be obtained from a legal stationer, such as Sanders, Williamson’s, Sutherland’s, or Blumberg’s.

Please note:  If a partner is being added or withdrawn, the Amendment must be signed by the new partner and at least one or a majority of the members named in the original certificate.

When the ownership of an existing business changes in its entirety (rather than adding or withdrawing a partner), that change may be noted by a Dissolution of the existing Certificate of an Assumed Name and the filing of a new Certificate of Assumed Name, instead of filing an Amendment.

Language MAY be included indicating that the new owner “is a successor in interest to the person or persons heretofore using such name or names to carry on or conduct or transact the business.”

Recommendation is made to consult with an attorney concerning potential issues of liability as a “successor in interest” to the previous owner of an existing business prior to the inclusion of this language.

Where do I file my organizational documents for a business entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company?

The Certificate of Incorporation (corporation) or Articles of Organization (limited liability company) are filed with the State of New York Department of State.   More information may be found at Or you may review information in the Erie County Clerk’s Office Starting Your Own Business.

How do I amend my limited liability company or other corporate documents?

To amend your limited liability company or corporation documents, you need to file Amended Certificates or other documents with the New York Department of State. Information can be found at (LLCs) or

How can I change my name?

The law controlling change of names is Civil Rights Law, Article 6 and may be found at

Name Change Forms and Instructions are available online at the Office of Court Administration website at  You may also wish to contact the 8th Judicial District Court Help Center at 77 West Eagle, Buffalo, New York 14202.

How do I file a Freedom of Information Request?

Most documents recorded or filed in the Erie County Clerk’s Office are public documents and you may obtain copies of the record simply by making a request to the Clerk’s Office.  More information may be found here.

If you still wish to make a request pursuant to Freedom of Information Law, please click here for more information.

I just filed my Articles of Organization for a newly created limited liability company with New York State and need to fulfill the publication requirements. How do I do that?

New York LLC Law §206: Within 120 days, notice must be published once in each week for six successive weeks, in two newspapers of the county in which the office of the limited liability company is located, one newspaper to be printed weekly and one newspaper to be printed daily.  Please look down below on the footer under Frequently Requested for an Approved Legal Publication List.

The notice shall include:

  1. The name of the limited liability company
  2. The date of filing of the articles of organization with the department of state and, if the date of formation is not the date of filing of the articles of organization, the date of the formation of the limited liability company
  3. The county within this state, in which the office of the limited liability company is located
    • The street address of the principal business location, if any
  4. A statement that the secretary of state has been designated as agent of the limited liability company upon whom process against it may be served and the post office address within or without this state to which the secretary of state shall mail a copy of any process against it served upon him or her
  5. If the limited liability company is to have a registered agent, his or her name and address within this state and a statement that the registered agent is to be the agent of the limited liability company upon whom process against it may be served
  6. If the limited liability company is to have a specific date of dissolution in addition to the events of dissolution set forth in section seven hundred one of this chapter, the latest date upon which the limited liability company is to dissolve; and
  7. The character or purpose of the business of such limited liability company.

The following is a SAMPLE of the notice required:


Name of LLC: XYZ Company, LLC

Date of filing of Articles of Organization with the NY Dept of State: November 28, 2008

(If date of formation is not the date of filing of the articles of organization, the Date of formation of the company):

Office of the LLC: Erie County (If more than one office, the Street Address of principal office):

The NY Secretary of State has been designated as the agent upon whom process may be served. NYSS may mail a copy of any process to the LLC at: 123 Main Street, City

Purpose of LLC: (Any lawful purpose permitted for LLCs under NY Limited Liability Company Act)

(Duration, if specific: (The Latest Date upon which the LLC is to Dissolve)

Optional: The LLC is to be managed by one or more members / manager.

NOTE: The Notice of Formation for your LLC must be sent to each of the newspapers for publication. (The charges for publication are not set by the Erie County Clerk or by the State of New York.) Please note that some newspapers will charge a set-up fee if your Notice of Formation is not in a printable format, such as WORD, and you may want to ask whether the newspapers will charge differently if it receives your Notice by facsimile or e-mail.

You will receive an Affidavit of Publication from each newspaper after completion of the publication (about 6 weeks). The Affidavits of Publication and the Certificate of Publication MUST be submitted to the New York State Department of State, Division of Corporations, NOT TO THE COUNTY CLERK.

The form for the Certificate of Publication may be found at

More information may be found at

I recently obtained a liquor license, do I need to publish this anywhere? If so, where?

All applicants for licenses for on premises consumption must publish a notice in a newspaper designated by the County Clerk,  once a week for two successive weeks in a daily or weekly newspaper (as defined by NY General Construction Law §60). For more information on where you can publish, click here.

I have just been ordained and wish to officiate at a marriage of friends. Do I need to register in the County?

There is no requirement to register with the County in order to perform marriages in Erie County.

For more information, you may contact the State Vital Records office at 855-322-1022 or the City of Buffalo, Office of the City Clerk at

I am a notary qualified in Erie County and have moved from Erie County. I need to “transfer” my notary commission. What do I do?

Notary Commissions remain in the county where a notary is qualified until the current term expires.  You will need to obtain a Certificate of Official Character from Erie County to file in another County. The cost of the Certificate is $5.  You are required to come personally to the Customer Service Desk, Erie County Clerk's Office, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202. When you file the Certificate in another county (New York State), the fee will be $10 to that county.  You will also need to file a change of address with the Department of State.  There is no form; if not previously notified, the State will accept your change of address when you renew in the new county of your residence.

How do I become a notary?

Erie County acts as an agent for the State of New York in accepting registration and oath cards of notaries.  However, the State schedules all tests and supplies test results to applicants.  For more information about becoming a notary, go to

Call New York State Department of Licensing services at 1-518-474-4429 or check the website to find test dates and locations.

I paid the $60 Notary Application Fee to Erie County but did not receive ID card back in the mail.

Notary identification cards are mailed from Albany by the Department of State, Division of Licensing. It takes approximately 60-90 days for Albany to process and mail ID cards.

However, Erie County will not cash your check until your renewal has been processed. If your check has cleared, you can begin using your new 4-year term.

If your check has not cleared, search against your name (Surname, then First name) on our website at to see if the renewal has been processed.  If it has not, it is possible that your renewal was lost in the mail and you may either come to the office at 92 Franklin Street or call 858-8797 to request a long-form renewal to begin the process again. 

I need information on how to notarize a specific document.

A notary is presumed to know the law regarding his/her appointment and commission.  A copy of Notary Public Laws may be obtained at

I lost, misplaced, or did not receive my notary identification card.

Identification cards are provided by the Department of State Division of Licensing in Albany and replacement cards may be requested by contacting the State, by calling 1-518-474-4429.

I did not receive my notary renewal, or just realized that my appointment has expired.  What do I do now? 

If you have moved since your commission was issued, you may contact the Erie County Clerk Customer Service Department;  often, renewal applications are returned to us if undeliverable.   If the renewal was not returned to the Clerk’s Office, a new application form can be sent to you for completion or picked up by you personally.   

Renewals can be processed in our office up to 6 months after the expiration date of the current term. After the 6-month grace period the customer must reapply through the Department of State and be re-tested (even attorneys that do not need to take an exam must reapply through the Department of State).

Can you tell me if an individual is a qualified commissioner of deeds/notary or give me an expiration date for a notary?

Searches are not generally performed over the phone.  You may request a search of the public records, including notary information, by sending a written request listing the name of the notary, sent via mail and accompanied by the appropriate fee.  A self-addressed, stamped envelope should also be enclosed to return your response.  There is a $5 / 2-year fee for each name and record type searched for this option.  

If you are only trying to confirm a commission and expiration date, you may search at the Department of State website for Licensing information,

How do I become a commissioner of deeds?

Commissioners of deeds are appointed by the Common Councils of cities within the State.  If you live or work in one of the 3 cities in Erie County: Buffalo, Lackawanna or Tonawanda, contact your local City Clerk's Office.

If you live in the City of Buffalo, call the City Clerk's Office at City Hall at 851-5431 for an application. After the application is returned to City Hall with a $20 fee and approved by the Common Council, the application will be sent to the County.  The County sends out the oath and signature cards which must be signed, notarized, and returned to the County Clerk's office with the $10 fee.

Can you tell me if an individual is a qualified commissioner of deeds/notary?

No searches can be performed over the phone. There is a $5 / 2-year fee for each name and record type searched for this option. It must be a written request listing the name(s), record type, and dates of the search, sent via mail and accompanied by the appropriate fee. A self-addressed, stamped envelope should also be enclosed to return your response. You can also check or to check paid date for commissioners. (code 636)

I recorded a document and have not received the original back.

Original recorded documents are returned either to an attorney or one of the parties to the transaction after the Clerk’s Office has verified the indexing information to the party directed at the time of the recording. Our Basic or Advance search is available at includes:

  1. The date of recorded documents being returned is available at the top left of the intial search.
  2. The Document Return Info is included in the Detail of the record (F2).

You may search the County Clerk’s online records at  to confirm that your deed was recorded and then request a copy of the deed if you need one sooner.  There is a cost for copies.  You may also wish to check with the attorney who represented you at the closing as documents are often returned directly to the attorney.

I bought a house in a Buffalo city tax foreclosure sale and have not received my deed:

You may search the County Clerk’s online records at  to confirm that you deed was recorded or send a request for a search with the fee of $5  plus the cost of copies, if copies are requested, to the Clerk’s Office along with your self-addressed, stamped return envelope.  If, however, the deed has not yet been recorded,  it is suggested that you contact your attorney or the City of Buffalo Law Department at 851-4342.

How do I make/file a small claim? Which forms do I use and what court?

“Small Claims” are filed in local courts, such as the Town or City Court where you live. Some courts can supply you with forms. For more information, go to:

My credit report is showing a lien filed against me. Can you verify the status of a lien on record?

Credit Reporting Agencies retrieve information by name from the public records maintained by the County Clerk’s Office.  If a judgment, tax warrant or other lien is shown on your credit report, it is possible that the item has been filed against another person with a similar name.  If there are any items reflected in your credit report that you feel should not be shown against you, you will need to dispute them with the Credit Reporting Agency rather than the Clerk’s Office.  You will need to provide proof sufficient TO THE REPORTING AGENCY that the item should be removed.  You may obtain that proof by disputing the item with the reporting agency or by contacting the judgment creditor, tax department or lienor to obtain in writing confirmation that the judgment, tax warrant or lien is not against you.  PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE CLERK’S OFFICE TO DISPUTE AN ITEM.

If, however, the judgment, tax warrant or lien is correctly filed against you, you will be required to contact the judgment creditor, tax department or lienor to resolve the matter by making payment and obtaining a satisfaction.   Until the satisfaction or release is filed in the County Clerk, the judgment, tax warrant or lien will remain as a negative item on your credit report.  

If the judgment, tax warrant, or lien is paid in full, and a satisfaction has been filed with the Clerk’s Office, but the Credit Reporting Agency still shows it as unpaid, you may dispute the status of the reported item in writing to the Credit Reporting Agency and/or obtain proof of satisfaction from this Office and mail a copy to the Credit Reporting Agency.

If you need a copy of the judgment or lien, or proof of satisfaction of same, you may request a copy of the record by coming to Customer Service or writing to the Erie County Clerk’s Office, Attention: Customer Service, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202.  Written requests require the book and page of the document, found by going to the Erie County Official online Records at  Insert your name in the field labeled “search value,” last name first.  Click on “F2” to see the summary of the information.  This website will also provide the page count of the document to determine the required payment by check or money order of $1 per page.  Please add $4 if you would like a certified copy of your document.  Please include a self-addressed stamped return envelope.

The cost is $1 per page for a copy of a judgment or other lien.  To obtain a copy of the warrant or proof that the warrant has been satisfied, please request a Certification of Tax Warrant for $5.  Please enclose a self-addressed stamped return envelope for any request for documents.