Rhode Island Public Records
You need a quick background check or a copy of a criminal record from Rhode Island but want to find the best place to search.
While access isn’t restricted, finding and requesting records can be a bit challenging. Records are kept by different branches of government and by various state agencies, so it can be challenging to know where to start looking.
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 Rhode Island public records law say?
- 2 How can I access public records in Rhode Island?
- 3 Rhode Island criminal records
- 4 Rhode Island inmate records
- 5 Rhode Island Court Records
- 6 Rhode Island Vital Records
- 6.1 What information do I need to request a Rhode Island birth certificate?
- 6.2 Where can I find a Rhode Island birth certificate?
- 6.3 What information do I need for a death certificate in Rhode Island?
- 6.4 Where can I find a Rhode Island death certificate?
- 6.5 What information do I need for a marriage certificate in Rhode Island?
- 6.6 Where can I find a Rhode Island marriage certificate?
- 6.7 What information do I need for a divorce certificate in Rhode Island?
- 6.8 Where can I find a Rhode Island divorce certificate?
- 7 Rhode Island Property Records
- 8 FAQs
- 8.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Rhode Island?
- 8.2 Is there a records custodian in Rhode Island?
- 8.3 What exemptions exist for public records requests in Rhode Island?
- 8.4 How long does Rhode Island have to respond?
- 8.5 Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in Rhode Island?
- 8.6 What fees are associated with requesting public records in Rhode Island?
What does the Rhode Island public records law say?
The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act or APRA was written to inform and involve citizens in decisions that will affect them in the state and to add accountability to elected officials.
The act provides the public access to public records. The APRA covers every public body and all branches of government except the judicial branch. The judicial branch only has to disclose administrative records.
The APRA does have specific steps to follow when you request a record. You do not have to be a citizen, which is a plus if you live out of state.
The ARPA states that you should have a response to your request in 10 business days. They can extend the time to 30 days. Any denial of records must come in writing.
Rhode Island has a specific fee schedule they follow with $ 0.15 per photocopied page and $15.00 an hour in labor fees for searching, redacting, and photocopying your requested documents.
You can appeal to the courts if your request is denied, but it is recommended to file a claim with the state’s Attorney General before you appeal.
Rhode Island does have 25 exemptions and 16 statutory exemptions. A majority of the exemptions cover records that would lead to an invasion of privacy. Medical records and information will not be disclosed. Law enforcement investigations and procedures, tax returns, trade secrets, financial accounts, real estate records, and school tests are all exempt.
Adoptions and child custody records are not allowed to be disclosed. The communication records between government officials and their constituents are exempt.
To learn more, visit RI.gov.
How can I access public records in Rhode Island?
Some records are available online, while others require a request form. If a request is necessary, it can be delivered by mail, email, or phone to the record-holding department.
Every department is different, so expect a public records search to vary, especially when accessing 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
Rhode Island criminal records
The majority of criminal records requested in Rhode Island are by employers who need a background check on a potential employee.
Hiring an employee who will not tarnish your business name is good and, in some cases, may keep your other employees safe.
The Attorney General maintains criminal records in Rhode Island.
What’s on a Rhode Island criminal record?
A criminal record will provide you with information on a person’s encounters with the law. Criminal records include arrests, convictions, and interactions with law enforcement.
The criminal record you receive will provide you with this pertinent information:
- Date of birth
- Driver license number
- Current and past addresses
- Former arrest records
- Current and past warrants
- Sex offender status
- Agency of arrest – police department, sheriff’s office, state police, etc.
Where can I find Rhode Island criminal records?
You will visit the Rhode Island Bureau of Criminal Identification to learn more about accessing Rhode Island criminal records.
You can apply for a record in person at a local police department.
You will need a check, money order, or credit card plus a valid identification card like a license. The cost is $5.00.
A requester can order by mail, but you must have a notarized release form, a copy of a valid ID, a $5.00 check or money order, and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Mail the request to the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General.
Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson Customer Service Center
4 Howard Avenue (corner of Pontiac Ave. and Howard Ave.)
Cranston, RI 02920
Phone number: 401-274-440
Rhode Island inmate records
Rhode Island maintains seven prisons, two for females and five for male inmates.
In 2019, there were 2665 inmates housed at these prisons.
The Rhode Island Department of Corrections maintains inmate records in the state.
What’s on a Rhode Island inmate record?
The information on each state’s inmate’s record can vary.
Rhode Island does provide you with personal information and several details about the person’s prison situation and case.
Rhode Island inmate records can provide the following:
- Name and aliases
- Date of Birth
- Height and weight
- DOC ID
- Booking photo
- Assigned location
- Sentence summary
Where can I find Rhode Island inmate records?
You will visit the Rhode Island Department of Corrections website to access the inmate record.
You can begin your search by entering the first and last name of the inmate.
You can add an alias if known.
The ID number of the inmate is another way to complete the search.
Other factors you can add to narrow your search are the inmate’s minimum and maximum age and the last known city of the inmate.
Rhode Island Court Records
Rhode Island comprises six courts, the Supreme, Superior, District, Family Court, Worker’s Compensation, and Traffic Court.
Each of the courts holds countless records, especially if court cases take a long time to complete.
Since there are so many courts, finding the documents you require can be cumbersome. Here is some information on the courts in Rhode Island to make your search go smoothly.
- The Rhode Island Supreme Court proceeds over questions of law and equity and holds the supervisory position over all of the other state courts.
- The Superior Court handles felony cases, civil cases over $10,000, Probate Court appeals, and zoning cases. They proceed over trials on guns, drugs, sexual predators, and domestic violence. Appeals from District Courts are tried here.
- Family Courts focus on divorce, alimony, support, and custody of children. It hears cases of neglect, abuse, adoptions, paternity, and mentally challenged children.
- District Court has authority over criminal cases (felony and misdemeanor), civil cases not exceeding $5,000.00, tenant/landlord issues, and small claims cases.
What’s on a Rhode Island court record?
Depending on the time of the case, court records can be pretty lengthy.
Court records that you can obtain are:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Court opinions
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
- Case information
Where can I find Rhode Island court records?
You will visit Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal to access the court record.
You can do a search by:
- Entering a business name
- The name of the parties
- An attorney’s name
- Case number
Rhode Island Vital Records
The State of Rhode Island Department of Health maintains vital records in the state.
Rhode Island’s vital records include:
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees
Public record requests for vital records in Rhode Island will vary depending on the document you are requesting.
Rhode Island Department of Health – Office of Vital Records
RI Department of Health
Office of Vital Records, Room 101
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097
What information do I need to request a Rhode Island birth certificate?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Birth Record will ask for specific information when ordering a birth record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Current age
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Hospital of birth
- Parents’ full name
Where can I find a Rhode Island birth certificate?
You can order a Rhode Island birth certificate online using VitalCheck.
Or, you can request a certified copy of a Rhode Island birth record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Birth Record and submitting it by mail or in person.
The cost of a certified birth certificate in Rhode Island is $20.
What information do I need for a death certificate in Rhode Island?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Death Record will ask for specific information when ordering a death record.
- Full name on the birth record
- Date of death
- Place of death
- Spouses’ name before marriage
- Parents’ name before marriage
Where can I find a Rhode Island death certificate?
You can order a Rhode Island death certificate online using VitalCheck.
Or, you can request a certified copy of a Rhode Island death record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Death Record and submitting it by mail or in person.
The cost of a certified death certificate in Rhode Island is $20.
What information do I need for a marriage certificate in Rhode Island?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Marriage or Civil Union Record will ask for specific information on their public records request form:
- Spouses’ full names before marriage
- Date of marriage
- Place of marriage
Where can I find a Rhode Island marriage certificate?
You can order a Rhode Island marriage certificate online using VitalCheck.
Or, you can request a certified copy of a Rhode Island marriage record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Marriage or Civil Union Record form and submitting it by mail or in person.
The cost of a certified marriage certificate in Rhode Island is $20.
What information do I need for a divorce certificate in Rhode Island?
Forms, fees, and office hours will vary depending on the Clerk of Court’s office.
Where can I find a Rhode Island divorce certificate?
Certified copies of Rhode Island divorce records are restricted from public access.
However, you can obtain archived divorce records by contacting the Family Court Clerk where the divorce was granted.
Or, you can submit a written request.
Virtual Clerk’s Office
Clerk of Family Court
1 Dorrance Plaza
Providence, RI 02903
Rhode Island Property Records
The Town/City Clerk maintains all property records in Rhode Island.
The property records you can access include:
- Land records
- Property deeds
- Real estate information
- Property tax assessment records
- Zoning information
For data, parcel, and land use 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 Rhode Island?
You will need basic information to access a public property record in Rhode Island.
Local government forms, fees, and business hours will vary depending on the City or Town Clerk’s office.
Where can I find a Rhode Island property record?
You will need to contact the Town/City Clerk’s Office where the property record is maintained.
Example – City of Providence Recorder of Deeds
City of Providence Recorder of Deeds Land Records Document Database
Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Phone number: 401-680-5000
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Rhode Island?
You are not required to be a Rhode Island citizen to request information.
Is there a records custodian in Rhode Island?
The officials at the government agency are considered the custodians of the records. The Attorney General does have the right to intervene in record disputes.
What exemptions exist for public records requests in Rhode Island?
The Rhode Island judicial branch is exempt. The majority of the exemptions in Rhode Island are for records that would violate privacy laws.
Trade secrets, health records, mental health, financial records, and tax returns are all exempt. School test results, law enforcement investigations, and adoption documents are exempt.
How long does Rhode Island have to respond?
Rhode Island has ten days to respond to your record’s request. If they deny it within those ten days, it must be in writing.
The state can extend this up to 30 days. If the request is denied, a written letter must state a specific reason for the denial and share the procedures for filing an appeal.
Is there an appeals process in place for public records requests in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island has an appeals process for public records requests.
You have three years to file an appeal. It is in your best interest to first file a claim with the Attorney General.
If you do win your case, Rhode Island is a state where you can win your attorney’s fees.
What fees are associated with requesting public records in Rhode Island?
The APRA has set fees for your request for documents. The charge is $.15 per page on the regular or legal-size paper.
Agencies can only charge fifteen dollars an hour for any work completed by an employee for records. They are required to give you an estimate of costs.