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Ohio Public Records

In the Midwestern United States, Ohio is the 7th most populous state in the country with over 11.5 million residents.  This 17th U.S. State is named for the Ohio River and was originally partitioned from the Northwest Territory.  The state capital and largest city is Columbus, and the state is the country’s largest producer of appliances, plastics, electrical equipment, and rubber.  Ohio has long made provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Ohio Public Records Laws

Ohio has been preserving records for sharing with the public since the early 1800s, before it was a U.S. State.  Common law access to public records was established in 1901, and state law made it official with the Open Records Law in 1963, which is found in Chapter 149.43 of Title 1 of the State Code.  The law allows “any person” to inspect or copy public records in Ohio.  The intent of the request isn’t relevant, and records may be employed for any reason once obtained.

Public records included under the law cover records from any public office in the state, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  Records that are not subject to the Act, or are exempt, include:

  • Records made confidential by statute
  • Medical records
  • Inmate records
  • Trade secrets
  • Preliminary audit reports
  • Tax returns
  • Notes of judges
  • DNA records
  • Juvenile records

Ohio Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Ohio are conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).   The BCI provides fingerprint-based checks through its electronic WebCheck system for licensing, pre-employment, and other public safety decisions.  WebCheck background services are available at approximately 100 deputy registrar locations in Ohio.  These reports return Ohio offenses only and require the consent of the person being checked.

Ohio Jail and Inmate Records

To discover information about the prison system in Ohio, search for an offender, or learn about services for victims, visit the Ohio Department of Corrections webpage.  If you are searching for an offender in the Ohio system, there is a search page that will allow you to enter search terms such as Name, County, Zip Code, Status, and DOC#.  You will be provided with a picture, if available, the offenders location, offense information, Admission Date, and Earliest Release Date.

Ohio Court Records

Information on Ohio courts and court records on cases in Ohio can be obtained from the administrator of the courts site.  Supreme Court cases can be searched through their online database.  There is another website called OhioCourtLinks.org that has links to many of the other courts in the state and records searches are available for some of those courts.  Copies of actual case files can be obtained by making a request from the clerk of the court in the original presiding courthouse.

Ohio Vital Records

Vital records in Ohio, such as birth certificates and death certificates, can be obtained from the Ohio Department of Health, Vital Statistics Office.  Birth certificates are accessible from December 20, 1908 to present and Death certificates from January 1, 1954 to present.  There are no relationship requirements to request these documents, but social security numbers are not provided on certificates.  There are several ways to request any of these records in Ohio:

  • By Mail:  Download the correct form, complete it and mail it back to:  Ohio Vital Records, P.O. Box 15098, Columbus, OH 43215.
  • In Person:  Any Local Vital Statistics Office or at the State Office at 225 Neilston St., Columbus, OH 43215 allows in-person orders.
  • Online:  You can order through Ohio.gov.

The Office of Vital Statistics does not maintain marriage or divorce records.  Marriage certificates should be requested from the County Probate Clerk where the marriage occurred, and divorce certificates need to be requested from the County Clerk of the Courts in the county where the divorce took place.  If you are not sure which county the marriage or divorce took place in, the Office of Vital Statistics may be able to search in the index from 1950 to present for marriages and 1954 to present for divorces to locate this for you.

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