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Pennsylvania Public Records: How to Perform a Pennsylvania Public Records Search

Pennsylvania Public Records: How to Perform a Pennsylvania Public Records Search
October 3, 2022

The Pennsylvania Right to Know Law grants every citizen of the United States (both resident in Pennsylvania or otherwise), the right to access public records in the state, with the exception of certain court records.


Government agencies in the state may deny public access to some records. However, whether these agencies are granting or denying a records request, they must provide a response within 5 business days.


Depending on the requested record, Pennsylvania public records may be accessed online or via an elaborate records request.


Pennsylvania Public records are typically maintained by a variety of departments and agencies, so the application processes may vary.


How to Find Public Records in Pennsylvania?

If you want to find Pennsylvania public records, you can perform a Pennsylvania free public records search online, with websites such as 


This is great for those who wish to find several types of records, like birth records, marriage records, criminal records, etc. 


If you want to find one type of public record, you can contact the authority that maintains the record in question. 

a woman's hand stamping a paper


Pennsylvania public records are available both online and offline, and you can find the records that you need, with the method of your choice.

About Pennsylvania Vital Records: What You Should Know

Vital records in the state of Pennsylvania chronicle births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that take place in the state. 


The Bureau of Health Statistics and Registry is the government agency that handles the maintenance and dissemination of vital records in Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania vital records are Pennsylvania public records, but the record's statutory period of confidentiality must first elapse for it to become publicly accessible. 


Further, persons interested in accessing vital records in Pennsylvania must provide demonstrable evidence of a relationship with the record's subject. This is also important for the facilitation of the record. 

certificate of live birth

How You Can Find Pennsylvania Vital Records

Depending on the type of vital record requested and the purpose for the request, requirements for obtaining vital records in Pennsylvania may differ. 


In general, requesters of vital records in Pennsylvania must provide a valid, government-issued ID or a court order issued by a competent judge in Pennsylvania. They may also be required to cover certification and copy costs.


Marriage and divorce records in Pennsylvania may be accessed and obtained by contacting the Marriage Records Division of the judicial district where the marriage license was issued, or where the divorce was finalized. 


Requesters may file their Pennsylvania public records application to the Division in person or by mail. Requests must be submitted to the court clerk of the county court that issued the license or finalized the divorce.


For birth or death records, requesters must download and complete the appropriate records search application on the Department of Health's website and send the application in person or via mail, along with a valid, government-issued photo ID and a $20 payment to:


Division of Vital Records
Birth Certificate Processing Unit
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103

Pennsylvania public records: Criminal Records

Criminal records are official records kept in Pennsylvania at all levels of government, including local, county, and state. 


They chronicle information about an individual's encounters with law enforcement in the state.


All types of criminal courts from all across the county and state are used to compile criminal histories.

handcuffed hands behind a man's back


The records are kept up to date by the Pennsylvania State Police, who also offer a searchable internet database. 


Requesters can apply for criminal history checks on a person using the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) database.

How You Can Access Pennsylvania Criminal Records

Interested individuals can obtain criminal records in Pennsylvania by submitting a criminal records request form in person or via mail to the Pennsylvania State Police. 


You can request these Pennsylvania public records via mail requests. 


The requester is required to enclose their application, along with a $22 search fee (in check or money order) in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, then mail the application to:


Pennsylvania State Police
Central Repository - 164
1800 Elmerton Avenue Harrisburg
PA 17110-9758


Alternatively, interested individuals may perform a name-based search on the Pennsylvania State Police's online portal. Searches on this platform attract a $22 fee. 

Pennsylvania Public Records: Court Records

The largest Pennsylvania public record-keeping facilities are its courts. 


The Public Records Policies of the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System mandate that the state's court records, which are often extensive, be made available to the public upon request.

a gavel on a table next to handcuffs

How to Access Pennsylvania Court Records:

Individuals interested in accessing or obtaining court records in Pennsylvania must first identify the particular court where the case was filed. 


After that, they must send a records search request to the record custodian for the specific court that keeps the record of interest.


In Pennsylvania, court clerks are the custodians of criminal records, while Prothonotaries maintain civil records. 


Note that a single individual may occupy both offices in some counties. 

Pennsylvania Inmate Records: What You Should Know

Inmate records are documents that detail the personal and administrative information of inmates incarcerated in any correctional institution in the state of Pennsylvania. 


These public records in Pennsylvania are typically maintained by the state's Department of Corrections. 

a man being fingerprinted

How to Obtain Pennsylvania Inmate Records

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections maintains an online, publicly accessible database of records of inmates in any of the state's correctional facilities. 


The database may be accessed by interested members of the public through the department's inmate locator tool.


People interested in accessing information about inmates in the state's penitentiaries may perform a name-based search on the inmate locator tool. 


Requesters are also required to provide the inmate's identification number.

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