North Dakota Public Records
Public records are a valuable piece of a transparent government. While the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants U.S. citizens the right to review records, each state has its version.
In North Dakota, searching for public records can be an indirect process. This is primarily because there are potentially records across several agencies in any state.
Since the process is not straightforward, it helps to know exactly where to go to make the process as simple as possible.
Every state has different processes, so it’s essential to know the state’s law before requesting any documents.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the North Dakota public records law say?
- 2 How can I access public records in North Dakota?
- 3 North Dakota Criminal Records
- 4 North Dakota Inmate Records
- 5 North Dakota Court Records
- 6 North Dakota Vital Records
- 6.1 What information do I need to request a North Dakota birth certificate?
- 6.2 Where can I find a North Dakota birth certificate?
- 6.3 What information do I need for a death certificate in North Dakota?
- 6.4 Where can I find a North Dakota death certificate?
- 6.5 What information do I need to request a marriage certificate in North Dakota?
- 6.6 Where can I find an existing North Dakota marriage record?
- 6.7 What information do I need to request a divorce certificate in North Dakota?
- 6.8 Where can I find an existing North Dakota divorce record?
- 7 North Dakota Property Records
- 8 FAQs
- 8.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of North Dakota?
- 8.2 Is there a records custodian in North Dakota?
- 8.3 What exemptions exist for public records requests in North Dakota?
- 8.4 How long does North Dakota have to respond to a public records request?
- 8.5 Is there an appeals process in place for public records request in North Dakota?
- 8.6 What fees are associated with requesting public records in North Dakota?
What does the North Dakota public records law say?
North Dakota is one of the few states in America that practices open government. The general public has the power to inspect any records across any agency unless exempted by law explicitly.
In short, North Dakota Open Records Statute provides no special rules for its executive, legislative, or judicial branches. It extends the law to entities that receive public funding as well.
The laws in North Dakota state that all government agencies and meetings are open to the general public unless specifically authorized by law. These fundamental laws can be found in the North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota state has 7 million government records on file. However, some may contain redacted information. Closed meetings that typically fall under redaction include:
If a request for records is denied, you have 30 days to appeal an Attorney General’s ruling and 60 days for a lawsuit. If you do not receive records promptly, an appeal can be filed through civil courts.
Visit NorthDakota.gov for further information.
How can I access public records in North Dakota?
In some cases, you need to submit a formal request for a public document. In other cases, online databases provide 24/7 access without any request necessary.
If a physical request is needed, it can be mailed or emailed, or you can place an order over the phone to the department holding the records. With each department different, expect some variation to the rules if accessing records from multiple agencies.
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
North Dakota Criminal Records
North Dakota maintains criminal records accessible by the general public, no matter how old, including charges that have been dismissed, those that did not end in conviction, those with no court disposition, and jail or prison custody records that are less than three years old.
The North Dakota Attorney General maintains criminal records in the state.
What’s on a North Dakota criminal record?
A criminal record provides a detailed report of a person’s interactions with law enforcement.
These records are culled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s nine prisons.
More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information:
- Date of birth
- Criminal case number
- Current and past addresses
- Former arrest records
- Current and past warrants
- Misdemeanor or felony
Where can I find North Dakota criminal records?
As required by law, state agencies and professional licensing boards require applicants to complete a criminal history record check before employment or licensure.
Criminal history checks in North Dakota may be fingerprint-based or name-based.
You will use the North Dakota Attorney General Criminal History check to access the criminal record.
Name-based searches will not identify records if a subject has been arrested under a different name. Fingerprint-based searches will identify arrest records even if the name is under an unknown alias. Fingerprints must be obtained through your local law enforcement agency.
The following information is needed for a criminal history check:
- Full name, including maiden name, previous name, and any aliases
- Date of birth
- Social security number or fingerprints of the subject
- The current address of the subject or signed authorization form
North Dakota Inmate Records
North Dakota’s prison system consists of four prisons.
Their inmate records contain official files, data, and information about inmates held, detained, or imprisoned in facilities managed by the city, county, state, or any other municipality.
The North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation maintains inmate records in the state.
What’s on a North Dakota inmate record?
The information listed on inmate records varies a bit from state to state. In North Dakota, the records usually contain personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation.
Public access to inmate records can provide the following information when accessed:
- Name and aliases
- Date of Birth
- Height and weight
- DOC ID
- Booking photo
- Assigned location
- Sentence summary
Where can I find North Dakota inmate records?
Through the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, interested parties can find inmates’ houses in the North Dakota Corrections facilities.
Visit the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Resident Lookup then enter the offender’s last name to begin a search.
North Dakota Court Records
The court records are available to the general public in North Dakota and provide complete documentation of allegations, affidavits, and all proceedings taken under oath.
The information compiled below can assist you in accessing court records held across the courts in the state, including the North Dakota Supreme Court.
What’s on a North Dakota court record?
In most cases, court records are quite large and come with several documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Court opinions
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can I find North Dakota court records?
Searches for court records can be done online at the State of North Dakota Courts.
A district court case search provides access to North Dakota District Court Case information for all criminal, traffic, and civil cases, with search results including municipal court cases from specific areas.
Search results do not include restricted case information, so a complete description of the data and the counties are available.
The site also provides information on court dates and times. Records can also be accessed via the clerk in the county where a record is located.
Court clerks are the custodians of state court records and maintain their integrity and completeness. Although most court records are accessible to the public, specific case types are subject to confidentiality by law or court ruling.
The case records and calendars are only displayed for the courts currently inputting data into the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry system ( NDCRI), which is limited to case search results, civil judgments, registers of a civil action, and court calendars for publicly accessible court case records.
North Dakota Vital Records
The Division of Vital Records – North Dakota Department of Health maintains vital records in the state.
North Dakota’s vital records include:
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees
Public record requests for vital records in North Dakota will vary depending on the document you are requesting.
The North Dakota Department of Health – Division of Vital Records
ND Department of Health
Division of Vital Records
600 East Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 301
Bismarck, ND 58505-0200
Phone number: 701-328-2360
What information do I need to request a North Dakota birth certificate?
The Authorization to Recieve a Certified Copy form will ask for specific information when ordering a birth record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
Where can I find a North Dakota birth certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a North Dakota birth record by completing the Authorization to Recieve a Certified Copy and submitting it by mail or in person.
Or, you can order a certified birth certificate online using the ND Department of Health website.
The cost of a certified birth certificate in North Dakota is $15.
What information do I need for a death certificate in North Dakota?
The Authorization to Recieve a Certified Copy form 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 North Dakota death certificate?
You can request a certified copy of a North Dakota death record by completing the Authorization to Recieve a Certified Copy and submitting it by mail or in person.
Or, you can order a certified death certificate online using the ND Department of Health website.
The cost of a certified death record in North Dakota is $15, and $10 for every additional copy.
What information do I need to request a marriage certificate in North Dakota?
Individual North Dakota counties maintain marriage records in North Dakota.
The forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the county where the marriage occurred.
Where can I find an existing North Dakota marriage record?
You can request a certified copy of a North Dakota marriage record by contacting the county office in the jurisdiction where the marriage took place.
Example – Cass County Treasurer
Cass County Certified Copies of Marriage License
PO Box 2806
Fargo, ND 58102
Phone number: 701-241-5611
What information do I need to request a divorce certificate in North Dakota?
Individual counties maintain marriage records in North Dakota.
The forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the county where the marriage occurred.
Where can I find an existing North Dakota divorce record?
You can request a certified copy of a North Dakota divorce record by contacting the county office where the divorce decree was issued.
Example – Ramsey County Clerk of Court
Ramsey County Clerk of Court website
Clerk of Court
524 – 4th Ave., #10
Devils Lake, ND 58301
Phone number: 701-662-1309
North Dakota Property Records
The County Recorder maintains property records in North Dakota.
The property records you can access include:
- Land records
- Property deeds
- 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 North Dakota?
You will need basic information to access a public property record in North Dakota.
Forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the County Recorder’s Office.
Where can I find a North Dakota property record?
You will need to contact the County Recorder where the North Dakota property record is maintained.
Example – Grand Forks County
Grand Forks County Recorder website
151 South 4th Street
Grand Forks, ND 58201
Phone number: 701-780-8262
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of North Dakota?
You do not need to live in Bismarck or Grand Forks to request state records.
Anyone, including people who live out of state, has the right to request records.
Is there a records custodian in North Dakota?
North Dakota Public Records Laws do not appoint a public records custodian.
What exemptions exist for public records requests in North Dakota?
There is a comprehensive list of exemptions for the state of North Dakota, and even routine requests can sometimes lead to an appeal.
North Dakota public records exemptions include:
- Juvenile court records
- Trade secrets
- Workers compensation
- Public employee medical records
- Assistance records
- Law enforcement investigation records
- Tax information
You can find a complete list of exemptions for public records in North Dakota.
How long does North Dakota have to respond to a public records request?
There is no prescribed time frame for how long an agency in North Dakota has to produce requested records. A request for records can take approximately a week to process.
In the worst-case scenario, a requester can sue to have documents made public.
Is there an appeals process in place for public records request in North Dakota?
There is an appeal process by way of the Attorney General’s office.
What fees are associated with requesting public records in North Dakota?
Generally, access to public records is unrestricted.
However, some offices may charge $0.25 per page for a standard letter or legal size paper.