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Delaware Public Records

A small state located in the northeastern region of the United States, Delaware is the sixth most densely populated of the U.S. and is divided into just three counties.  Also known as the first state in the Union, Delaware didn’t have a public records law on the books until 1977.

Delaware Public Records Laws

The state of Delaware’s public records are ruled by its “Freedom of Information Act” 29 Del. C. § 10001 et seq., which is only similar in name to its Federal counterpart.   The state statute outlines who can obtain public records, what is included and what is not.

The act itself states that only citizens of the state of Delaware can request records, but the courts have broadened this through case law to extend that right to citizens of other states.  The purpose of the request does not need to be stated and the records obtained may be used for any purpose.  Records of any public entity may be requested, including the executive branch, General Assembly, and judicial bodies.

Records that are excluded under the act include those from:

  • Caucuses of the general assembly
  • Delaware University system
  • medical records
  • investigatory records
  • collective bargaining agreements
  • pending litigation records
  • security-related matters

Delaware Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

 

Background checks in Delaware are administered by the Delaware State Police, State Bureau of Identification (SBI).   The SBI provides certified criminal history reports to requestors through fingerprint cards only, not name searches.  Therefore, no one can request a background check on you without your knowledge or consent in this state.  A Federal background check can be included at an additional cost and reports take 2-4 weeks to be returned.

Delaware Jail and Inmate Records

The Delaware state Department of Corrections website has information and links to help you locate offenders and a great deal of information for victims and advocates.  If you are looking for inmate records, you can use their partner site, Vinelink.com, that will allow you to determine where someone is being housed, their projected release date, and other pertinent information about their charges.  You will need to know the persons Offender ID or their First Name and Last Name to do a search.


Delaware Court Records

The Delaware court system is fairly compact as there are only three counties in the state.  However, the types of records that you wish to gain access to will determine where you’ll need to go.  The administrator of the courts is the place to start.  If the case is a civil case, you can access docket information and some records online through their CourtConnect. Any other sort of case, you can request transcripts from the particular court.


Delaware Vital Records

Vital records in Delaware, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates are held by the state Office of Vital Statistics.  Divorce records are not.  Divorce records are always handled by the county in which the final dissolution of marriage took place.

Birth Certificates:  Once a birth record is 72 years old, it becomes public record in Delaware.  Any birth record from 1942 or before must be researched at the Delaware Public Archives.  Records from 1943 forward can be requested from the Office of Vital Statistics.  If the certificate is not public record due to age, you must be one of the parties listed on the birth certificate, a spouse, a legal guardian, or an authorized representative to make a request.

Death Certificates: Once a death record is 40 years old, it becomes public record in Delaware.  Any death record from 1974 or before must be researched at the Delaware Public Archives.  Records from 1975 forward can be requested from the Office of Vital Statistics.  If the certificate is not public record due to age, you must be a current spouse, child, parent, legal guardian, authorized representative, or genealogy researcher to make the request.

Marriage Records: Marriage certificates should be requested from one of two sources depending on the date of the marriage.  If married in 1974 or before, make your request to the Delaware Public Archives.  If 1975 to present, you can make your request to the Office of Vital Statistics.  To obtain the records, you will need to be a party on the certificate or a child, parent, legal guardian, authorized agent, or genealogy researcher.

Divorce Records:  Divorce Records are only available from the county in which the divorce took place.  Here are the three different counties in Delaware and their information to make a request.

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