New Hampshire public records laws are complicated and cumbersome. However, you have a right to public information.
To access public records in New Hampshire, it helps to understand the state law and the process used to request them.
Those needing to access records have a right to submit a request through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Every state has different processes, so it’s essential to know the state’s law before requesting any documents.
What does the New Hampshire public records law say?
The Right to Know Law in New Hampshire has two clear points. First, it specifies a time frame for government agencies to respond to requests, which is five days.
New Hampshire has a restriction that forbids charging processing fees, so obtaining public information in New Hampshire can be cheaper than in other parts of the country.
The law applies to documents as “any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body.”
The state doesn’t have a formal appeals process, so requesters are forced to file court action if the agency doesn’t reply within the five-day window or provide the requested paperwork.
It is unclear whether you must be a resident to request information. The law states “citizens” can request, but there is confusion about whether that means a New Hampshire citizen or an American citizen.
How can I access public records in New Hampshire?
You can find some online to access public records, while others require a request form.
If a request form or a release form is necessary, it can be sent via mail, email, or phone to the record-holding department.
Each department may interpret the citizenship clause differently and exempt the public record law differently.
Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places. This can be done by email, mail, or phone, depending on the department where the request is submitted.
In general, a public records request should include:
- Your name
- Contact information
- The name of the document
- Details about the document
- A time frame that you would like to receive the materials by
- Document delivery method, mail or email
New Hampshire Criminal Records
Typically, the most common use of a criminal record, or criminal history, is for employment, but there could be other reasons.
More charities, churches, and other volunteer agencies require background screenings before approving applications for volunteering.
People seeking to adopt or foster children will also undergo a background check.
In some cases, those seeking a business partnership will also require mutual background checks.
The New Hampshire State Police Justice Information Bureau Criminal Records Unit maintains criminal records in the state.
What’s on a New Hampshire criminal record?
A criminal background lists all interactions a person has with a law enforcement agency. The details are pulled from many sources, such as local police departments, courts, and the state prison system.
Traffic violations and misdemeanors are not always listed in a criminal record.
More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information:
- Date of birth
- Driver license number
- Current and past addresses
- Former arrest records
- Current and past warrants
- Sex offender status
Where can a person find New Hampshire criminal records?
People seeking information about a person’s criminal history can get them from the New Hampshire Department of Safety State Police within the criminal records unit.
Requesters can also request their criminal history records.
A notary or Justice of the Peace signature with a date and seal is requested to do this.
Requesters, in this instance, will need valid photo identification when ordering at the public counter.
The state charges a $25 fee payable to the State of New Hampshire.
The fee can be paid in cash, check, money order, or significant debt or credit card. However, payments must be exactly $25 as change is not given.
Volunteers for a public or private, not-for-profit entity have a reduced fee.
If you decide to obtain a criminal record from another company, New Hampshire adopted the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which provides an accuracy of public records that stem from a consumer reporting agency.
New Hampshire Inmate Records
Research shows that New Hampshire has 2,701 inmates being held within its jails and prisons. There are reasons to request inmate records, including an employment screening or clearing up past legal irregularities after being cleared of a crime.
Crime victims also find it helpful to know the status of an offender and pursue possible civil court action where needed.
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections (DOC) maintains records in the state.
What’s on a New Hampshire inmate record?
New Hampshire, like many states, contains basic information on inmate records. Record checks can provide the following information:
- Name and aliases
- Date of Birth
- Height and weight
- DOC ID
- Booking photo
- Assigned location
- Sentence summary
Where can I find New Hampshire inmate records?
You will use the New Hampshire Department of Corrections Inmate Locator to access an inmate record.
Information is pulled from the DOC Offender Records Office in Concord, New Hampshire.
It has active sentencing information under the law in which the conviction occurred. It also displays the minimum and maximum release dates, pending consecutive sentences, tech parole violations, and New Hampshire incarcerated inmates housed in state facilities.
To conduct an inmate search, those requesting information will need all or part of the inmate’s last name and all or part of their first name.
There is no fee for this online service.
New Hampshire Court Records
Court records can provide much information for those looking at a specific case.
The files are typically quite large as they contain copies of all legal action, plus depositions and other testimony. There could be several reasons for wanting a copy of court records, but the most common is to tie it to ongoing litigation in another case.
What’s on a New Hampshire court record?
Court records have an enormous amount of information. They typically pull together information from several courts into the one case file that includes all the action on the case.
Most people find the following documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Court opinions
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
- Case information
Where can I find New Hampshire court records?
You will need to contact the New Hampshire Judicial Branch where the court record is maintained.
New Hampshire Vital Records
The New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration (DVRA) maintains vital records in the state.
New Hampshire vital records include:
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees
Public record requests for vital records in New Hampshire will vary depending on the document you are requesting.
Division of Vital Records Administration
Division of Vital Records Administration
71 South Fruit Street
Concord, NH 03301-2410
Phone number: 603-271-4651
What information do I need to request a New Hampshire birth certificate?
The Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record will ask for specific information when ordering a birth record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Place of birth
- Parents’ full names before marriage
Where can I find a New Hampshire birth certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a New Hampshire birth record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record and submitting it by mail or in person to the DVRA or your local City or Town Clerk
The cost of a certified birth certificate in New Hampshire is $15, and $10 for every additional copy.
What information do I need for a death certificate in New Hampshire?
The Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record will ask for specific information when ordering a death record.
- Full name on the death record
- Date of death
- Place of death
Where can I find a New Hampshire death certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a New Hampshire death record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record and submitting it by mail or in person to the DVRA or your local City or Town Clerk
The cost of a certified death certificate in New Hampshire is $15, and $10 for every additional copy.
What information do I need for a marriage certificate in New Hampshire?
The Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record will ask for specific information when ordering a marriage record.
- Full names before marriage.
- Date of marriage.
- Place the marriage took place.
Where can I find a New Hampshire marriage certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a New Hampshire marriage record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record and submitting it by mail or in person to the DVRA or your local City or Town Clerk
The cost of a certified marriage certificate in New Hampshire is $15, and $10 for every additional copy.
What information do I need for a divorce certificate in New Hampshire?
The Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record will ask for specific information when ordering a divorce record.
- Full names before marriage
- Date of the divorce decree
- Place the divorce was granted
Where can I find a New Hampshire divorce certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a New Hampshire divorce record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of Vital Record and submitting it by mail or in person to the DVRA or your local City or Town Clerk
The cost of a certified divorce decree in New Hampshire is $15, and $10 for every additional copy.
New Hampshire Property Records
The Registry of Deeds Office maintains all property transaction maintains property records in the state.
The property records you can access include:
- Land records
- Property deeds
- Real estate information
- Property tax assessment records
- Zoning information
For data, parcel, and tax maps, you will need to contact the Geographic Information System(GIS) to ask about public access.
What information do I need to request property records in New Hampshire?
You will need basic information to access a public property record in New Hampshire.
Forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the County Clerk’s Office.
Where can I find a New Hampshire property record?
You will need to contact the New Hampshire County Registers of Deeds Office where the property record is maintained.
Example – Hillsborough Register of Deeds
Hillsborough Register of Deeds website
19 Temple St
Nashua, NH 03060
Phone number: 603-882-6399
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of New Hampshire?
New Hampshire law states you must be a citizen, but it is unclear whether that means a citizen of New Hampshire or the United States.
Public officials in different agencies have different interpretations. In other words, it may make a difference if you live in Manchester as opposed to Miami when it comes to requesting records.
Is there a records custodian in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire does not mandate a public records custodian.
What exemptions exist for public records in New Hampshire?
The New Hampshire Right to Know Law lays out exemptions including grand jury and petit jury records, personal information, school records, preliminary drafts, and other documents deemed to be an invasion of privacy.
How long does New Hampshire have to respond to a public records request?
All New Hampshire government entities have up to five days to respond.
Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire does not have a process available to appeal a public records decision.
If you feel that an agency has violated Freedom of Information laws, contact the New Hampshire Attorney General.
What fees are associated with requesting public records in New Hampshire?
There are different fees for different types of records and public record searches. For instance, death certificates are $15 for the first copy and $10 per copy.
New Hampshire also charges a non-refundable search fee, but there is a restriction against charging processing fees.