How to Lookup Public Records

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How to Lookup Public Records

Finding public records, especially those of other people, might feel like the domain of a private investigator or police officer but it’s not. The Freedom of Information Act makes most US government collected records, on it’s citizens, public domain. With the advent of the internet and smartphones, finding public records that you’re looking for is easier than ever. Using a public records website is a good starting place, it’s convenient and anonymous. Learning how to lookup public records just got a whole lot easier.

Are you looking for public records of your own, trying to find information a family member or doing research on a potential employee? While a background check is slightly different, obtaining public records can help you find the information that you’re after. Keep reading to learn more about how to find public records you’re looking for.

Lookup Public RecordsWhat Are Public Records?

Public records are government collected records that are not designated as private, and therefore available to the general public. An example of a public record might be a marriage certificate marked public by the couple getting married. That means that that particular marriage record would be searchable by the general public and part of a system of records that everybody can obtain.

Certain court records are also commonly public. While many other records are part of the public domain and easy to access, other records, like medical records, tend to be private.

Different Types of Public Records Include

  • Vital records. Vital records, like a person’s date of birth and name are generally public record and easy to find. You likely will not be able to obtain contact information like a phone number or current address, however.
  • Court records. A variety of different court records are available to the general public, ranging from small crime records to civil business cases. Some court records may be edited to only provide general information to the public instead of a larger overview of a court case.
  • Criminal records. In many cases, criminal records are made public and available for anyone to find. While some details of a criminal case likely will not be provided, you can often look up a particular case or find out if a person was arrested and convicted of a crime. Felony crimes are often easier to find than misdemeanor crimes only prosecuted by a local government agency.
  • Driving records. Records of accidents, traffic citations, driver’s license information and proof of auto insurance may be available to the public. However, some of this information may be hidden to protect the privacy of the individual. For example, you may be able to find a person’s driving record and license information, but you may not be able to access their current address this way. This is typically done as a privacy safeguard.

A variety of different record types are considered public records accessible to almost anybody looking for them in the right place. These are some of the most common types of public records available.

How Can You Access Public Records?

  • Visit your local county clerk’s office for criminal and court records. These offices are commonly located near or inside a municipal courthouse in your area.
  • Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles in your area to obtain driving records.
  • Find vital records via a Department of Health Office. Note that this may be considerably easier online depending on where you live.
  • Use an online public records website to search a multitude of different public records

Finding public records in person is a relatively simple process. In most cases, a local government agency can help you find the right records you’re after. Above are some options for finding records in person and online

How to Lookup Public Records Online

  • Use state government websites. For example, you can find a wide range of California public records via the state website here.
  • Find court records through the United States Courts’ records. Here, you can find a wide range of public court records going back many years via the PACER system.
  • Consider looking up records via a third-party website. Third-party websites can be particularly helpful when you’re searching for records quickly. Offering a range of different public records, a third-party site is also ideal if you’re not quite sure what you’re searching for.

Looking up public records online can be a relatively simple process if you know where to begin. These are a few of the most common way to lookup public records online.

Finding the records you’re after doesn’t have to be a difficult process. By visiting a relevant government agency in person, going to a government website or using a third-party website, you can find personal information, information about friends and family and even information on neighbors and potential employees.

It’s important to note that some public records you find may be edited to protect a person’s privacy. Still, you can get a lot of information you need via public records quite quickly once you know how to lookup public records.

Can anyone lookup public records?

Yes, anyone can lookup public records in the United States. The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 makes most government collected information public domain which anyone can access.

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Responses to “How to Lookup Public Records

    1. Tracy, we couldn’t find the Alabama marriage record for the people you mentioned. Since this was very recent, there may be a delay in the reporting of this public record. You can also check with the clerk of the courts where the marriage certificate was filed.

  1. My truck was stolen. We had a contract. I’m trying to find out if it’s still in my name or his. Definitely need this for law enforcement.
    I have vin and plate.

    1. Rochelle, please refer to our license plate lookup and VIN search resources and read through our terms of search before conducting your inquiry. Each state has a separate set of rules on what is allowed to be looked up via specific privacy laws. Please reach out if you have any additional questions about how to search public records

    1. Raymond, if you can provide us with your full name and date of birth we are happy to dig into your inquiry about how to lookup your public record

  2. I am attempting to obtain a death record for Virginia Martin, who died 12-30-2010 in Houston, TX. My father was married to her when he died, state law specified that she would be allowed to live on their property until her death. Now, her name is still attached to the property but I own it (and pay property taxes on the land). I would like to obtain the death certificate in order to get clear title to the property.

  3. Lost the title to vehicle just bought. Have bill of sale. But the person bought from title jumped and sold. Found info on owner to get duplicate title and registration. Have insurance and new emissions but cant get plates or registration without the titke. And after contacting owner he merely just ignores call. Police took title. Said only need to provide bill of sale for return. Now they cant find it. Done kitsch of research have lots of info but not sure what to do.

    1. Robby, you will want to contact your local DMV directly to inquire about changing the vehicle title into your name. Typically a bill of sale is sufficient but you’ll want to double check this with your local DMV office

    1. Gayle, we show a couple traffic citations and an arrest record from a few years ago in San Diego county. If you sign up with our premium membership you can view these in detail and run unlimited public record searches

    1. Gayle, we are happy to help you with a public record lookup. Can you provide us with what type of public record you are looking for. Below are some types of public records that we can assist you with.

      Types of Public Records That Are Available

      Criminal Records
      Court Records
      ・Incarceration Records
      ・Sex Offender Records
      ・Lien Records
      Bankruptcy Records
      Driving Records
      Vital Records
      Marriage Records
      Divorce Records
      ・Birth Records
      ・Death Records
      VIN Vehicle Records
      ・License Plate Records
      ・Property Records
      ・Phone Records
      ・Email Records

    1. Randy, we are happy to run a free public records search for you. To begin, give us the full name of the person, their age and state of residence. Our public record database quickly searches over 2 billion records to give you all the information you need about someone. Public records include criminal history, driving records, vital records, court records, incarcerations, liens, bankruptcies and much more.

Author: SQAdmin
Last Updated: November 17, 2020

Please be aware that the information obtained using searches may not always be accurate and up to date as we do not create, verify, or guarantee the accuracy or the amount of information provided through our service. Data availability is largely dependent on various public sources from which the information is aggregated. is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by Fair Credit Reporting Act and should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for personal credit or employment, or to assess risk associated with any business transactions such as tenant screening. By using the services offered through this website you agree to comply with all of the conditions set forth in our terms and privacy disclosure. The information obtained from our searches is not to be used for any unlawful purposes such as stalking or harassing others, or investigating public officials or celebrities. Violators may be subject to civil and criminal litigation and penalties. All searches are subject to our terms and applicable laws.