The number of free resources that can help you find public records on someone is so many that they cannot be counted. This can be government agencies as well as third party sites. The same is true for the number of types of public records out there. They include birth, death, marriage, divorce, census, military, criminal, property, immigration and a whole lot more. This article is aimed at helping you on how to search public records for free no charge.
Just as there are numerous sources of public records and numerous types of types of public records, there are also countless reasons one might want to search for public records. Whether you are looking to do a search on yourself or do a genealogical search or just want to find out more information on someone, public records are your answer.
Public records are available to anyone who needs them according to the laws of the United States. The availability of these records may vary from state to state. Each state is allowed to have its own laws that govern to availability of public records. A large number of government agencies have put the effort into making public records available online.
Vital records are one of the most searched type of public records. Vital records are records that mark important events in a person’s life. This is birth, death, marriage, divorce and death records.
A number of sites that offer birth records searches do not allow you to view the birth certificate. These sites will let you view the name, date of birth and county or city where the birth took place. One site you might consider using for birth records would be familysearch.org. Birth records can be located by location or time period. Permitted searches on the site are with a name, relationships, location and life event.
Reports from such a search would be the person’s full name, where they were born and where they live (events) and their relationships (relative). You can get all these details free of charge.
If you are looking to obtain certified copies of birth certificates, you will have to get in touch with the department of vital records in the state where the birth took place. You can apply for the birth record through the mail, in person from their offices.
Death records are also available for free online. A number of genealogy sites has death records information plus birth records. The Secretary of State is your best bet to finding death records on someone. You will need to get in touch with the Secretary of State where the death took place. Some of these secretary of states has these records online.
When looking to find death records on someone who is a relative, be sure to have their full name plus their date of birth. If you have no idea of the exact date of death on someone, you can provide a range of years of their death. That way you will be able to narrow down your results to that range of years.
If there is a record that matches your search, you will be given their full name, gender, date of death, county of death and a reference number.
Marriage records are kept at state and county level but they are also available online. However, you cannot obtain the actual marriage license online. The Department of Health is usually the one responsible for maintaining marriage records in most states in the United States online.
If you are looking to obtain official copies of the marriage records, you will need to get in touch with the county clerk’s office where the marriage took place. This service will come at a cost.
The County’s Clerk of Courts Office is a great source for divorce records especially if you are familiar with the state and county where the divorce event happened. You can request the records in person and over the phone. Some counties have even put up websites where you can look up this information.
Divorce records can also be obtained a state level. This can be the case if you are not familiar with the county where the divorce event happened.
A criminal record lists all the offences a person has committed, listing them all starting with the first to the latest. You can access Criminal Court Records for cases like civil, criminal and other small claims at district or county level if they have a website. You can search for criminal records from them using the offender’s name, the defendants name or use the case number. There are county websites that do not allow searches without providing the case number.
You can search for criminal records from the state’s court website. Every state’s courts keep records on all court proceedings that took place in their courts. Just type ‘state + county + court records’ on any search engine to find the website for the state that you want. They normally allow searches with a name, case number or business name.
Another option to finding criminal records would be to use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). This website will let you search for records from all the courts in the United States. To use the service, you will need to be a member, which is free. The site charges when you view or print a document though. However, users who spend less than $15.00 in a quarter will receive refunds. That way, you can search for free from the site, as long as you keep your searches to a minimal.
Third Party Websites
As much as the sources listed above can help you find public records for free, independent third party websites can too. They are able to scour throughout the entire country for information as they are not limited geographically. Searches on them normally return instant results.
You can use them for any public record search. Here are a few examples of some of the familiar websites out there:
These ideas on how to search public records for free no charge are examples to show that such process is possible. You can try them and find those public records that you seek.