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

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

Unless a record is redacted or exempted, Tennessee residents may access all government records categorized as public records by the Tennessee Open Records Act within 7 business days of making the request. 


Conversely, people who reside outside Tennessee may have their Tennessee public record search requests summarily dismissed.


There is no appeals process for denied requests, but Tennessee residents who have had their records request denied may file a lawsuit to obtain the records if they can prove that obtaining the records is in the interest of the public. 


Tennessee public records are maintained by different record custodians, with different requesting processes. We’ll examine some of them in this article.


How to Find Public Records in Tennessee?


If you want to perform a Tennessee free public records search, you can use online resources, such as 


These services are suitable for those who want to get access to all the public records that are registered to a person in question. 


If you want to perform a search for one type of record, you can use one of the following methods for finding public records in Tennessee.

a sign that reads public records

Tennessee Public Records: Vital Records

Birth records, death records, marriage records, and divorce records are grouped as vital records in the state of Tennessee. Each of these records may be accessed and obtained on request in person at the Office of Vital Records, via mail, or online.


For an individual to be qualified to request Tennessee vital records, they must be listed on the certificate, have close familial ties with the owner of the certificate, or act on behalf of the subject as an attorney. 


Each and every application must be fully filled out, signed, and submitted with a legitimate government-issued ID that clearly displays the applicant's signature. 


However, qualified candidates with a notarized application are exempt from presenting further identification.

a hand stamping a sheet of paper

How to Find Tennessee Vital Records

The Tennessee Office of Vital Records is the official record custodian of vital records in the state. 


Tennessee residents interested in accessing and obtaining these Tennessee public records must complete, download, and print the appropriate online application form on the Office of Vital Records website.


Completed marriage, birth, death, or divorce records application forms are to be submitted, along with the $15 charge and a valid, government-issued ID at:


Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37234

Public Records Tennessee: Criminal Records 

The criminal records of a person detail their criminal history and their interactions with the Tennessee criminal justice system. 


In addition to information about arrests, charges, court cases, and current prison status, an individual's criminal history may also include details regarding their rehabilitation.


Criminal records are extensive, showing unmistakable proof of guilt. Other police data, such as those pertaining to arrests and warrants, may not offer unambiguous evidence of guilt. 


Instead, these documents include additional information about what is contained in criminal records in Tennessee.

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How to Find Tennessee Criminal Records

The Criminal Justice Information Service Division will provide criminal records upon request by mail or online. 


A requester may file a fee waiver request for a free public criminal record check, but this name-based service costs $29 per individual. 


If disclosing the data serves the public interest rather than private interests, the record custodian is more likely to grant the waiver request.

Public Records in Tennessee: Court Records

Court records are significant judicial documents that capture crucial case data pertaining to the prosecution of offenders in any state court with jurisdiction over their case. 


Tennessee court records often contain information on charges and sentences as well as the identity of the judge who presided over the case, the defendant's personal characteristics, the time and place of the trial, and the defendant's anticipated date of release.

a gavel on a book

How to Find Tennessee Court Records

Finding out which court they are held in and where they are housed are the first steps to obtaining access to court documents in Tennessee. 


After determining the correct court, the next step is to get in touch with the court's record custodian. 


All court documents are typically managed by the Office of the Court Clerk for each court.


A request for Tennessee public records can be made to the clerk of the court at the various courthouses. 


For court records, the Tennessee Annotated Code establishes a copying fee of 50 cents per page. There is a $5 charge for making copies of abstracts or getting certifications and seals.


In Tennessee, the seven-day response deadline for requests for Tennesse public records applies. 


A request that is denied must be accompanied by a justification from the custodian. If a request for records cannot be fulfilled within seven days, the requestor must be informed promptly.

a magnifying glass on a laptop keyboard

Tennessee Public Records: Inmate Records

Inmate records are official documents that provide physical and administrative information about inmates incarcerated in any correctional facility in the state. 


In addition to supervising the administration of state penitentiaries in Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Corrections maintains the records of inmates in correctional institutions in the state. 


The same agency is in charge of the dissemination of these records.

How to Find Tennessee Inmate Records

Both residents and non-residents of Tennessee may access the Tennessee inmate database. 


Individuals seeking to access Tennessee inmate information may run a free, name-based inmate search using the Felony Offender Information Locator (FOIL). 


This offender database and locator tool are maintained by the state’s Department of Corrections.

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