New Hampshire Public Records
Getting public information in the State of New Hampshire can be as confusing as it is cumbersome. This state has a Right to Know Law, but it is largely left up to interpretation, and how your particular official or agency interprets it can affect the success you have in obtaining records.
It has a citizenship restriction, but that is unclear and the state’s attorney general’s role in helping requesters isn’t defined so there isn’t a true appeals process. The law is broad in relating to documents but has broad exemptions as well.
We have compiled information regarding state-by-state laws to help those seeking public information. Specific policies and procedures for New Hampshire is listed below to get those needing information started.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the New Hampshire public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in New Hampshire?
- 3 New Hampshire criminal records
- 4 New Hampshire inmate records
- 5 New Hampshire court records
- 6 New Hampshire vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about New Hampshire records
What does the New Hampshire public records law say?
The Right to Know Law in New Hampshire has two clear points. First, it does specify a time frame for government agencies to respond to requests and that is five days.
That makes it one of the fastest turnaround times in the country. There is also 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 proper paperwork that is requested.
It is unclear whether you must be a resident to request information. The law states “citizens” can request but there is confusion whether that means a New Hampshire citizen or an American citizen.
How can a person access public records in New Hampshire?
To access public records, you can find some online while others require a request form. If a request form or a release form is necessary, it can be sent via mail, email, or by phone to the record-holding department.
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 by phone depending on the department where the request is submitted. Each department may interpret the citizenship clause differently and exemptions to the public records law differently.
In general, a public records request should include:
- Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
- The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
- A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
- How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail
Due to COVID-19, some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.
New Hampshire criminal records
There are many reasons to seek out criminal records. Typically, the most common is for employment but there could be other reasons. More charities, churches, and other volunteer agencies are requiring background screenings before approving applications for volunteering too.
Those seeking to adopt or foster children will also be likely to undergo a background check. In some cases, those seeking a business partnership will also require mutual background checks.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal background check provides a list of all interactions a person has with a law enforcement agency. These details are pulled from many sources such as local police departments, courts, and the state prison system. They can include things like arrests, charges, court sentencing, and incarceration information.
Regardless of the state, there are typically five things listed on all criminal records.
A New Hampshire background check usually contains basic personal information like their name, birthday and nationality, a mugshot, fingerprints, distinguishing features like tattoos and a list of all misdemeanor and felony convictions with details of the offense.
Where can a person find New Hampshire criminal records?
Those seeking information about a person’s criminal history can get them from the New Hampshire Department of Safety within the criminal records unit. Walk-in requesters are accepted at 33 Hazen Drive, Concord, Room 106A or you can mail in an application or agree to release it to a third party. Notarization is not required for either of these options.
Requesters can also request their own criminal history records. To do this, a notary or Justice of the Peace signature with a date and seal are requesting. Requesters in this instance will need valid photo identification when requesting at the public counter.
The state charges a $25 fee payable to the State of New Hampshire. The fee can be paid in the form of cash, check, money order, or major 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, the state of New Hampshire adopted the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that provides an accuracy of public records that stem from a consumer reporting agency.
New Hampshire inmate records
Research shows that New Hampshire has an estimated 2,701 inmates being held within its jails and prisons. There are reasons to request inmate records including an employment screening or to clear up past legal irregularities after being cleared of a crime. Crime victims also find them helpful to know the status of an offender and to pursue possible civil court action where needed.
What’s on an inmate record?
New Hampshire, like many states, contains basic information on inmate records. Record checks can provide the following information:
- The inmates name, birthdate and gender
- A mugshot
- An inmate location
- An inmate registration number
- Custody status
Where can a person find New Hampshire inmate records?
- Resource: New Hampshire Department of Corrections
Those seeking inmate record information can locate inmates on the New Hampshire Department of Corrections website. 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 a lot of 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 reason is to tie it to ongoing litigation in another case.
What’s on a 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. Information can include dockets, court minutes, case testimony, depositions, court orders, sentencing, jury records and witness documentation.
Where can a person find New Hampshire court records?
- Resource: New Hampshire Courts
There is no online service for getting court records in the State of New Hampshire, so requesters will need to obtain court records from local Superior and Circuit courts located. There are COVID-19 rules to gain in-person access including face covering requirements. Those wanting to know more about obtaining court records in Superior or Circuit Court cases can call 1-855-212-1234. Those requesting records from a New Hampshire Supreme Court case should call the clerk at 603-271-2646.
New Hampshire vital records
Vital records contain some of the most important information for a person. These are the government records of life’s moments such as birth, death, marriage and divorce. Vital records are used to claim identity and citizenship so they are incredibly important. They are used to start school, go to college, get a driver’s license, change a name, get a passport, adopt and for employment. They are also used to settle estates.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
There is some basic information required of everyone requesting vital records. This includes:
- The approximate date and location of the event
- The full name of the person, including maiden names
- A case file number for divorce records and a license number for marriage records
- The date of birth for birth records
Where can a person find New Hampshire vital records?
The New Hampshire Department of State as a Division of Vital Records Administration with information on how to obtain vital records. The new website has statistical information only. Individual vita records can’t be obtained online. There are several places to get vital records depending on exactly what you are searching for.
Birth records of more than a century old, and marriage divorce, death records of more than 50 years old are in the research room of the New Hampshire Archives and Vital Records, 9 Ratification Way in Concord, New Hampshire.
Copies of vital records can be found in the local city clerk’s offices where they occurred. This includes births, deaths, marriage, divorces. Pre-adoption (non-certified) records must be obtained from the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Information.
Copies of vital records are sent to the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics in Concord, New Hampshire.
Frequently asked questions about New Hampshire records
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
New Hampshire law states you must be a citizen, but it is unclear whether that means a citizen of New Hampshire or of 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?
No, there is no records custodian in New Hampshire.
What exemptions exist?
There are several exemptions including grand jury and petit jury records, personal information, school records, preliminary drafts, and other documents deemed to be an invasion of privacy as loosely defined.
How long does that state have to respond?
Government entities have five days to respond.
Is there an appeals process in place?
No, there is no appeals process in place.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
There are different fees for different types of records. For instance, death certificates are $15 for the first copy and $10 per copy after that. New Hampshire also charges a non-refundable search fee but there is a restriction against charging processing fees.