Free Public Records

Free Public Records

Free Public Records

Finding Free Public Records

Public records consist of any information or documents that are not confidential but instead are available to the public. In the United States, the Freedom of Information Act allows access to public records on a federal level while all states have their own laws regarding Freedom of Information, allowing the public to request and receive documents.

Free Public Records for the Federal Government

On the Federal level, the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Federal Communications Commission allows the public access to FCC records unless they are exempt under mandatory disclosure. Those exempt from disclosure include:

• Foreign policy or national defense materials that are classified

• Information exempted by another stature

• Internal agency practices and personnel rules

• Financial or commercial information as well as trade secrets received from a confidential or privileged source

• Medical, personnel or similar files which disclosure would invade personal privacy 

• Agency memoranda or letters within or between agencies

• Records compiled for the purpose of law enforcement

• Oil well data

• Records dealing with the operations, conditions or examinations of financial institutions

Free public records for the federal government for the judicial, executive, legislative, and their respective agencies are available. Requests can be made by filling an Electronic FOIA Request form or through mail, email, or fax. While some of these services do require fees, a fee waiver or restricted fee assessment can be provided with good reason, as long as the information is not used for commercial purposes.

Free Public Records for the State Government

On a state level, free public records are separated by smaller jurisdictions. Most services that provide free public records organize the information by State, county or zip code, and then name. On a local level, free public records can be found for many documents including the following:

• Deeds and mortgages

• Unclaimed Property

• Criminal Wants and Warrants

• Legislation

• Death Records

• Birth Records

• Missing Persons or children

• Divorce Records

• Workers Compensation

• Government Employees

• Licenses

• Criminal Records

• Voter Records

• Marriage Records

• Vital Records

• Recorded Documents

• Sex Offenders

• Court Records

• Property Records

• Uniform Commercial Code

Depending on the state, there are certain records that cannot be found. For example, when looking through free public records for Michigan, it is not possible to find social security numbers, medical records, law enforcement investigations, computer software information, or academic transcripts. On the other hand, certain states do provide other sources of information for free public records. For example, New York provides information on library archives. 

Other Free Public Records

There are other free public records available for specialized agencies such as for the U.S. Census bureau, the U.S. Tax Courts, or the Library of Congress. The different branches of the U.S. military also provide certain public records such as personnel search.






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