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North Dakota Public Records

Located in the upper Midwestern region of the United States, North Dakota is bordered by Canada to the north and South Dakota to the south.  The state is the 19th largest but the 4th least populated, with just 739,000 residents.  The state is known for having a strong economy and low unemployment numbers, with an industry rich in natural resources.  North Dakota does make records available to the public through various measures.

North Dakota Public Records Laws

The North Dakota Open Records Statute is covered under Chapter 4 of Title 44 of the North Dakota Century Code.  Article XI, Section 6 of the State Constitution also has provisions for the sharing of public records.  What these provisions state is that “all records” may be requested by “any person” unless specifically excluded by statute.  The purpose of the records request does not need to be disclosed, and records can be used for generally any purpose once obtained.

Records that are included in the public records laws include records from governmental bodies, including the executive and legislative branches.  The Act does exclude the judicial branch, and there is assumed to be common law access to these records unless otherwise excluded.  Records that are not covered under the law, or that are exempt, include:

  • Records deemed confidential
  • Medical records
  • Examination questions
  • Trade secrets
  • Veterans discharge documents
  • Grand jury records

North Dakota Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Criminal history checks are administered by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).  The BCI makes a clear distinction between a  background check, which could simply be a search of public records, and a criminal history check, which is a search of confidential law enforcement databases.

The BCI conducts Criminal History Records Checks on either a name-based or fingerprint-based search.  Either check requires a signed authorization form by the subject and the report will return a criminal history for the state of North Dakota only.

North Dakota Jail and Inmate Records

If you are looking for information on inmates in the state of North Dakota, services for victims, or want to find out about the correctional facilities in the state, you can visit the Department of Corrections website.  To locate an offender in the system, the state has a search form in which you just enter the last name of the offender.  The result will give you the offender’s current location, date of birth, and estimated release date, with a photo if available.

North Dakota Court Records

Any information on courts or court cases in the state of North Dakota can be found on the administrator of the courts website.  There is a search page that will allow you to search district court records by name, citation number, or case number.  You can also search court calendars for any court in the state.  To obtain detailed case files, you will still need to contact the clerk of the court in the particular courthouse where the case was heard.

North Dakota Vital Records

Birth and death certificates in North Dakota are administered by the state Department of Health Division of Vital Records.  To request a copy of any of these records, you must prove eligibility by either being the person listed on the record, a spouse, child, parent, guardian, next of kin, or authorized agent.  Birth and death records are available from 1930 to present and can be obtained in the following manner:

  • In Person:  You can order in person at the State Office.
  • By Mail:  Simply download and complete the proper form and return it with copies of required documentation to:  Division of Vital Records, 600 E. Boulevard Ave. – Dept 301, Bismarck, ND 58505-0200.
  • Online:  Place your order and payment through

Marriage records are available in North Dakota from July 1925 to present and Divorce records from July 1949 to present.  These records can only be obtained through the county clerk or recorder in the county in which the event took place.


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