Ohio Public Records
Ohio started keeping records back in 1789. Back then, records were kept on paper. Some of the first records were property and vital records like those that track births and deaths.
In the 1980s, the state started keeping electronic records and even started transferring old records to electronic ones.
Today, like most states, Ohio has embraced digital records.
Today, citizens of the United States can request Ohio records. You do not need to live in Cleveland, Columbus, or any Ohio city to make a request.
To help people navigate the world of public records, which can be a little confusing, this guide can provide direction to criminal, inmate, court, and inmate records.
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.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Ohio public records law say?
- 2 How can I access public records in Ohio?
- 3 Ohio Criminal Records
- 4 Ohio Inmate Records
- 5 Ohio Court Records
- 6 Ohio Vital Records
- 6.1 What information do I need to request an Ohio birth certificate?
- 6.2 Where can I find an Ohio birth certificate?
- 6.3 What information do I need for a death certificate in Ohio?
- 6.4 Where can I find an Ohio death certificate?
- 6.5 What information do I need to request a marriage certificate in Ohio?
- 6.6 Where can I find an existing Ohio marriage record?
- 6.7 What information do I need to request a divorce certificate in Ohio?
- 6.8 Where can I find an existing Ohio divorce record?
- 7 Ohio Property Records
- 8 FAQs
- 8.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Ohio?
- 8.2 Is there a records custodian in Ohio?
- 8.3 What exemptions exist for public records requests in Ohio?
- 8.4 How long does Ohio have to respond to a public records request?
- 8.5 Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in Ohio?
- 8.6 What fees are associated with requesting public records in Ohio?
What does the Ohio public records law say?
Ohio has a unique history compared to other states in that its access to public records predates its actual statehood. A 1901 court decision stated explicitly that the public records are the people’s records, and unless there is a statute in place, the rights of the people to examine their records must remain in practice.
However, it must be noted that in Ohio, there are quite a few statutes that can hamper a public records search.
The Ohio Public Records Act does not provide a specific response time to a records request; it says that the request should be handled within a reasonable period.
If a request for records is denied, there is no administrative appeal process in the state. However, requesters can pay $25 and file a complaint to the Ohio Court of Claims, which has seven days to respond and 45 days to issue a legally binding decision.
To learn more, visit Ohio.gov.
How can I access public records in Ohio?
Some public records can be found online, while others require a more formal request.
If a formal request is necessary, it can occur by mail, email, or phone. It should be directed 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
- 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
Ohio Criminal Records
In Ohio, The Identification Division of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation provides the latest records to employers who want to run background checks on potential employees.
The division acts as the central repository for all felony records within the state, maintaining fingerprints, photographs, and other information related to criminal records in Ohio.
What’s on an Ohio criminal record?
A criminal record provides a detailed report of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. These records are compiled 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
- Case number
- Current and past addresses
- Former arrest records
- Current and past warrants
- Domestic violence charges
- Sex offender status
Where can I find Ohio criminal records?
The Bureau of Crime Identification & Investigation (BCI&I), a subsidiary of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, offers WebCheck for civilian background checks.
These checks are relatively quick, taking only a few hours to conduct, with the results available through the U.S. Postal Service. More information is available on Ohio’s WebCheck system.
Requiring a complete set of fingerprints for criminal records, a business check, money order, or e-payment made out to the Treasurer of the State of Ohio for $22 will begin the process.
If you cannot find what you are looking for online, records can also be requested through the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the person lives. Local rules and laws will apply.
The fees associated with a request are minimal, and some offices have no fees for background checks.
Ohio Inmate Records
As the sixth-largest prison system in America, Ohio operates 30 state prisons. It possesses inmate records that comprise personal and official data of those incarcerated by the state and held in Ohio’s jails, prisons, or penal institutions.
The records of each inmate are typically held at the site where the inmate resides and include the following information:
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction maintains inmate records in the state.
What’s on an Ohio inmate record?
The information listed on inmate records varies a bit from state to state; in Ohio, 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 Ohio inmate records?
You will use the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Inmate Search to locate the inmate record.
To search for an inmate, input the inmate’s name and unique DOC number.
The website is regularly updated.
You can expect to find the location of a person, the jail’s contact information, inmate status, and any information regarding a release or pardon.
Ohio Court Records
The Ohio Open Records Law passed in 1954 guarantees that court records are available to any public member, thereby making it a fundamental right to all residents of Ohio. The records open to the general public include affidavits, civil case settlements, documentation on allegations, and all proceedings taken under oath.
In a small percentage of cases, court records may be sealed or may have redaction for certain circumstances.
The Office of the Clerk of Courts maintains court records for the judiciary branch.
What’s on an Ohio court record?
In most cases, court records are quite large and come with varying documents.
Most people find these documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Court orders
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can I find Ohio court records?
Finding court records in the state of Ohio is fairly complicated. While other states have created an online portal to house and search court records, Ohio has not.
The best way to access court records is to search for the county court or municipal court where the case was heard. Some countries do have records available online.
Example – Franklin County Clerk of Courts
Franklin County Clerk of Courts Records Search
399 S Front St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone number: 614-525-5279
If a county doesn’t have an online database, you need to speak with the county clerk or the Clerk of Courts and put in a records request.
The judiciary branch in Ohio includes:
- The Ohio Supreme Court
- The Court of Appeals
- The Common Pleas Court
- County Municipal Court
- Court of Claims
- Mayor’s Court
The Ohio Supreme Court also provides an extensive number of court files online. To begin a search, visit the state’s Supreme Court Website.
Ohio Vital Records
The Vital Statistics Ohio Department of Health maintains vital records in the state.
Ohio’s vital records include:
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees
Public record requests for vital records in Ohio will vary depending on the document you are requesting.
Ohio Bureau of Vital Records
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, OH 43215-0098
Phone number: 614-466-2531
What information do I need to request an Ohio birth certificate?
The Application For Certified Copies will ask for specific information when ordering a birth record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Parents’ full names
Where can I find an Ohio birth certificate?
You can request a certified copy of an Ohio birth record by completing the Application For Certified Copies and submitting it by mail or in person at your local health department.
The cost of a certified birth certificate in Ohio is $21.50.
What information do I need for a death certificate in Ohio?
The Application For Certified Copies will ask for specific information when ordering a death record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Date of birth
- Date of death
- Place of death
- Parents’ full names
Where can I find an Ohio death certificate?
You can request a certified copy of an Ohio death record by completing the Application For Certified Copies and submitting it by mail or in person at your local health department.
The cost of a certified death certificate in Ohio is $21.50.
What information do I need to request a marriage certificate in Ohio?
Individual county probate courts maintain marriage records in Ohio. The forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the county where the marriage occurred.
Where can I find an existing Ohio marriage record?
You can request a certified copy of an Ohio marriage record by contacting the Clerk of Courts Office where the event occurred.
Example – Franklin County Probate Court
Franklin County Probate Court Marriage License Index
Marriage License Department
373 S. High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-6311
Phone number: 614-525-3108
What information do I need to request a divorce certificate in Ohio?
County Clerks maintain marriage records in Ohio.
The forms will vary depending on the county where the divorce was granted.
Where can I find an existing Ohio divorce record?
You can request a certified copy of an Ohio divorce record by contacting the County Clerk where the divorce was granted.
Clerk Offices have different forms, fees, and regular business hours.
Example – Ohio County Clerk
Ohio County Clerk’s Office website
1500 Chapline Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
Ohio Property Records
The County Recorder maintains property records in Ohio.
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 Ohio?
You will need basic information to access a public property record.
Forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the County Recorder’s Office.
Where can I find an Ohio property record?
You will need to contact the County Recorder where the property record is maintained.
Example – Logan County
Logan County Recorder Online Services
Patricia Myers, Recorder
Logan County Recorder
100 South Madriver Street, Suite A
Bellefontaine, OH 43311
Phone number: (937)599-7201
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Ohio?
There is no requirement of citizenship to place a public records request in Ohio.
Is there a records custodian in Ohio?
Ohio law does not mandate a record custodian.
What exemptions exist for public records requests in Ohio?
All of the public offices within the state of Ohio fall under public records law.
How long does Ohio have to respond to a public records request?
There is no set deadline for a response in Ohio, but agencies typically respond very promptly.
Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in Ohio?
There is no administrative appeal for the state of Ohio. However, requesters do have the option of filing an appeal in the Ohio Courts of Claim for $25.
Generally, fees associated with the actual materials costs, aside from labor, may be charged according to public records policy.
What fees are associated with requesting public records in Ohio?
The state of Ohio can charge for the cost of materials but does not charge for labor.