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Minnesota is a little different in handling its public records because of various amendments to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) since the law was first adopted. The intent was to make most everything publicly accessible.

Lobbying efforts and lawmakers have added more than a few exemptions. It can be confusing as some offices do not allow walk-in requests and require you to mail, email or fax.

However, other things most states typically list as private, such as government employee salary, are listed as public. 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.

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What does the Minnesota public records law say?

The Minnesota Public Records Law does not have a citizenship requirement to request public documents, so you can request anywhere.

However, there is no specific response time either, so you can be left waiting a while before your request is answered.

There is a myriad of exemptions in the legislative and judicial branches.

Records from the legislature are exempt in many cases. Many judicial records, such as domestic abuse records, work products, and court service records, are exempt.

The executive branch has no exemptions.

Depending on the agency involved, you can make your FOIA request in person, in writing, and online. Like other states, Minnesota cannot ask why you want records.

To learn more about conducting a public records search, visit

How can a person access public records in Minnesota?

For public records access in Minnesota, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, email, or phone to the record-holding department.

Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you access records from multiple places.

In general, a public records request should include:

  • Your name
  • Parties 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

Minnesota Criminal Records

Some criminal records are available in Minnesota, although there are some specific exemptions.

The most common need for a criminal records search is to get a job, as many employers require it.

There may be other reasons a background check is necessary, including verifying some information before volunteering for specific charities or implementing a business contract, or transacting business with a particular vendor.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension maintaining public criminal records in Minnesota.

What’s on a criminal record?

A criminal record details a person’s history with law enforcement.

Details are extracted from several sources, including local police departments for arrests, courts for trials and convictions, and the state prison system for information about incarceration.

In Minnesota, this official document can vary, but most will include:

  • Date of birth
  • Photograph/mugshot
  • Fingerprints
  • Current and past addresses
  • Former arrest records
  • Current and past warrants
  • Arrest report

Where can I find Minnesota criminal records?

You will use the Minnesota Criminal History Search to access the criminal record.

Available information includes public data maintained by BCA with criminal conviction data available to the public for 15 years following the completion of a sentence.

The website doesn’t include information on arrests, juveniles, criminal history from other states, federal crime information, or data deemed private.

Minnesota Inmate Records

There are an estimated 9,849 inmates in the Minnesota prison system. Inmate records can be helpful if you are an employer and seek specific information about a person’s conviction and sentence.

Crime records can also be helpful if you are a crime victim and want to know when the offender will be released or are involved in other court action with the inmate.

What’s on a Minnesota inmate record?

Like many states, Minnesota has a variety of basic information available on its inmate records.

Gaining access to these records will provide the following information:

  • Name and aliases
  • Date of Birth
  • Social security number
  • Height and weight
  • DOC ID
  • Booking photo
  • Assigned location
  • Sentence summary

Where can I find Minnesota inmate records?

You will use the Minnesota Department of Corrections Offender Search to access the inmate record.

You will need the offender’s name or the inmate identification number to do an online search. It can take several business days to get a newly sentenced inmate into the online system, so be aware of the extra time required.

Minnesota Department of Corrections
Midway Campus
1450 Energy Park Dr #200
St. Paul, MN 55108

Phone number: 651-361-7200

Minnesota Court Records

Court records contain valuable information that can be used for several different reasons. Employers may want to know details of a case involving a job applicant.

Others involved in a separate case may want details of other court actions involving the individual—some lookup court cases to find out information about their parent’s past or other family members.

Most courts offer online access to their judicial branch case records through a public access site, and the State Law Library.

What’s on a Minnesota court record?

Court records are typically large information files and can include documents from several courts, depending on the case.

It can contain all court transcripts and information on all actions in a case.

  • Names of parties
  • Attorney name
  • City and state
  • Case number
  • Case type
  • Case information
  • Date of birth
  • Court orders
  • Court opinions
  • Court documents
  • Civil cases

Where can I find Minnesota court records?

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has a case management system that provides you with court information and guides you to which court system you need to contact for the records.

You can case search the Minnesota trial court database using the Minnesota Court Records Online (MCRO).

You can also access records of the judicial branch by searching the specific court’s database.

You can also find court records by going to the court where the case was heard and talking to the Court Administrator.

In some cases, requesters feel it’s easier to call or visit a courthouse, especially if it’s to request District Court records.

Minnesota Vital Records Records

The Minnesota Department of HealthThe Office of Vital Records maintains public vital records in the state.

Minnesota public vital records include:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Divorce Decrees

Minnesota vital records requests will vary depending on the documents you are attempting to access.

Office of Vital Records – Department of Health
Minnesota Department of Health
Central Cashiering – Vital Records
P.O. Box 64499
St Paul, MN 55164

Phone number: 651-201-5740

What information do I need to request a Minnesota birth certificate?

The Minnesota Birth Certificate Application will require specific details.

  • The full name on the birth certificate
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • City of birth
  • County of birth
  • Parents’ name before marriage

Where can I find a Minnesota birth certificate?

You can request a certified copy of a birth record by completing the Minnesota Birth Certificate Application and submitting it in person or by mail.

You can also contact your local Minnesota county vital records office to submit the form in person.

The cost for a certified birth certificate in Minnesota is $26.

What information do I need for a death certificate in Minnesota?

The Minnesota Death Certificate Application will require specific details.

  • Full name on the death certificate
  • Date of death
  • Date of birth
  • City of death
  • County of death
  • Parents’ name
  • Spouse’s name

Where can I find a Minnesota death record?

You can obtain a Minnesota death record by completing the Death Certificate Application and submitting it in person or by mail.

You can also contact your local Minnesota county vital records office to submit the form in person.

The cost for a certified death certificate in Minnesota is $13.

What information do I need to request a marriage certificate in Minnesota?

The County Recorder’s Office maintains marriage records in Minnesota.

You will need to contact your local Recorder to inquire about forms, fees, and office hours.

Where can I find an existing Minnesota marriage record?

You can search the Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS) for a marriage record.

If you request the marriage certificate in person, you must contact the Local Registrar in the county where the marriage license was issued.

The cost of a certified copy of a marriage certificate is $9 in Minnesota.

Cambridge Deputy Registrar Office
225 Ashland St S
Cambridge, MN 55008

Phone number: 763-689-1130

What information do I need to request a divorce certificate in Minnesota?

The County Administrator maintains divorce records in Minnesota.

You will need to contact the County Administrator in your jurisdiction to inquire about forms, fees, and office hours.

Where can I find a Minnesota divorce record?

You will need to contact the County Administrator where the divorce decree was issued.

Example – Isanti County
555 18th Avenue SW
Cambridge, MN 55008

Phone number: 763-290-7020

Minnesota Property Records

The County Assessor’s Office maintains public property records in Minnesota.

The property records you can access include:

  • Liens
  • Titles
  • Property deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Property tax assessment records
  • Zoning information
  • Probate

What information do I need to request property records in Minnesota?

Public property record requests vary depending on the Minnesota county where the property record is maintained.

Contact your County Court Administrator’s Office to inquire about forms, fees, and office hours.

Where can I find a Minnesota property record?

You will contact the County Assessor’s Office in the county that maintains the Minnesota property record.

Example – Hennepin County Assessor
Hennepin Public Property Record Search webpage
Hennepin County Government Center
300 South 6th St # A2103
Minneapolis, MN 55487


Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Minnesota?

Minnesota records are accessible to anyone.

You can request a Minnesota public record regardless of if you live in the state, or have United States citizenship.

Is there a records custodian in Minnesota?

Minnesota does not have a records custodian.

What exemptions exist for public records in Minnesota?

There are many specific exemptions within the legislative and judicial branches, even though neither is considered exempt.

Documents related to the legislature are exempt in many cases, and judicial documents related to domestic abuse records, judicial work products, and court service records are exempt. Administrative records relating to security, employees, and applicant are also exempt.

Requesters would need to look at the law to determine if a specific document is exempt and to clarify the Minnesota rules of public access to records.

How long does that state have to respond to a public records request in Minnesota?

Minnesota does not have a time limit for the state to respond to a FOIA request.

Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in Minnesota?

You can appeal to the Commissioner of Administration. A requester can file an appeal up to two years after receiving a denial.

What fees are associated with requesting public records in Minnesota?

Fees charged for various records in Minnesota can be a bit murky. There is no charge to inspect records in person.

There are charges for government employees to search and duplicate records electronically.

However, the agency cannot charge additionally for redacting records or spending time legally reviewing them before release.

Fees are increasing all the time in the state, especially regarding search time and labor costs.

There are no fee waivers for the media or those requests made in the public interest.

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