Public Records Search

See public records, such as background, criminal, court, inmate, jail, prison, arrest, police, traffic, warrant, and marriage records.


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Find the information you need with a public records search

You can use a public records search to find any document available to the public. These documents may be accessible in online databases or as paper documents stored at local government offices.

The number and variety of documents can make a public records search seem intimidating if you don't know how to search them.

Fortunately, the resources available on this website can make your public records search easier and more productive.

What are public records?

Public records include birth certificates, court documents, criminal records, government documents, and many more types of records.

The most commonly requested public records are birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and other documents recording vital events in a person's life. These records are often necessary to apply for government identification cards, and they are also important for obtaining court records, claiming life insurance, and more.

Documents related to the legal system are also available to the public, including police records, jail records, court records, and other documents related to crime, criminal activities, and legal proceedings. These records are important for background checks, arrest warrant searches, and to obtain information needed for inmate searches and court sentencing purposes.

Multiple documents produced by government agencies are available to the public. This includes budgets and other fiscal records, tax records, and details of government operations. These records are important to maintain accountability and transparency regarding government spending.

Documents on government contractors are available to the public. This includes contracts as well as financial records of transactions between government agencies and private contractors. These documents are typically kept for at least three years from the time of the final transaction.

Government documents that have been declassified are also available to the public. After a certain period of time - typically ten years - various documents and files kept by government and intelligence agencies are declassified. These public records may include memos, operations reports, and training manuals, which may be partially redacted before their release.

The government also maintains public records about its employees. This information does not include sensitive personal information, but it does include the name, age, gender, and the employment history of all government employees, except for certain employees of the State Department or intelligence agencies.

Why search public records?

Public records contain information that can be useful to individuals and businesses for a number of reasons.

Public records on birth, death, marriage, and other life events are vital for identification. You may need your birth certificate to obtain a passport or to apply for certain state identification cards, such as the enhanced driver's license. Marriage records are required to apply for a name change or for a divorce settlement. Death records are necessary for estate purposes and to claim life insurance.

Criminal records can be used to protect individuals and employers. Employers can use routine background checks to discover a potential hire's criminal history, protecting your business's interests and reducing your company's liability. Individuals can also use background checks to discover if someone you meet online has a history of theft or sexual assault. And if you have been convicted of a crime, you should search your criminal record to make sure it is accurate.

Government records, particularly financial records and declassified documents, hold the key to greater transparency and government accountability. Public records on budgets, taxes, government contractors, and government spending programs reveal how taxpayer money is spent. Declassified documents are vital for historians and citizens who want to learn more about their representative institutions.

Public records are also used by credit bureaus to assess credit risks and maintain accurate accounting for loans, debts, and bankruptcies. This credit information is used to determine whether you can finance a vehicle, obtain a new credit card, or buy a new home. Individuals should closely monitor their credit reports to make sure they are accurate.

Public records on birth, death, and immigration can also help you learn about your family's history. These documents, which are critical for genealogical research, can go back centuries in some jurisdictions.

Individuals can protect themselves by checking their own public records. For example, similar names may yield false positives in criminal records searches or credit reports. A false positive in your personal records can confuse employers during a background check or result in you being denied a credit card or mortgage. If you are aware of potential false positives, you can inform employers or credit agencies and avoid a mistake before it occurs.

How to find the right documents

The first step in your public record search is determining where to look for the right documents.

Certain records are kept by the federal government, while others might be accessible only through state governments or local offices. You can learn which office or agency holds the records you need through an online search. This website will help you determine where to find the records you need.

There are some restrictions on certain documents. Some government records, for example, require permission through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Even after filling out the request form, information in the document may be partially redacted. Other records may be unavailable if they are still classified. Criminal records might be sealed or expunged, and certain marriage and divorce records can be sealed.

In some instances, particularly in the case of older documents, public records might also be lost or destroyed.

How to find the best search results

There are billions of public records in the U.S. If you want to find the best search results, you'll need the best information.

The public search resources available on this website will help you find what you're looking for quickly and easily. Whether you need vital records, criminal records, or government records, this site will help you find them.