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Tennessee Public Records

Located in the Southeastern United States, Tennessee is the 36th largest state and is also known as “The Volunteer State” due to its role in the War of 1812.  Famous for the country music scene in Nashville, the state’s second-largest city, and the country’s most visited national park, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee has much to offer residents and visitors alike.  With over 6.5 million residents, Tennessee does make provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Tennessee Public Records Laws


The Tennessee Open Records Act was initially passed in 1957 and is found in Title 10, Chapter 7 of the state statutes.The Act states that public records are open to “any citizen of the state of Tennessee” and this has been expanded to include corporations. The purpose of the request does not have to be stated and records received can be used for any purpose, commercial or otherwise.

Records that are covered under the Act include records from all government agencies, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  Non-governmental bodies that receive public funds are also covered.  Records that are not covered under the Act, or are exempt, include:

  • Medical records
  • Trade secrets
  • Investigative reports
  • Security-related records
  • Records deemed confidential by statute or court order

Tennessee Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks


Background checks in the state of Tennessee are administered by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  The general public, employers, and licensing agencies can request a name-based background check on anyone through the online system, called Tennessee Open Records Information Services (TORIS), or through the mail that will return an adult criminal history for the state of Tennessee only.

Tennessee Jail and Inmate Records

If you’d like to find information on an inmate in the Tennessee system, learn about the state prisons, or about agency services, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  If you want to locate an offender, you can search on the state’s webpage called Felony Offender Information (FOIL) either by Name, TOMIS ID, or State ID.  The search results will provide you with the offender’s sentencing date, supervision status, and earliest parole eligibility date.

Tennessee Court Records

Information on Tennessee courts can be found on the state administrator of the courts website.  This site has information on all courts in the state, and you can look up information on court meetings, opinions, and oral arguments from their student page.  Any particular court records, however, will need to be requested from the specific court where the case was heard.

Tennessee Vital Records

Vital records pertaining to birth, death, marriage, and divorce in the state of Tennessee are administered by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  For any of these certificates, you must either be the person named on the certificate or a spouse, parent, child, or legal guardian to make a request.  There are several ways to apply for a birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate in Tennessee:

  • In Person:  You can make your application at the Vital Records Central Office, at 710 James Robertson Pkwy, 1st Floor, Nashville, From 8:00am-4:00pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 8:00am-6:00pm Tuesday and Thursday.
  • By Mail:  You can download the proper form and mail it with a copy of your photo ID and payment to: Tennessee Vital Records, 1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower, 710 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243.
  • Online:  You can make your request through their partnership with

Birth records are available dating back to 1914, and death records for the last 50 years.  Marriage and divorce records are also available for the last 50 years.  If you are looking for records older than this, you can ask the county where the event took place or approach the Tennessee State Archives with your request.

  • Updated September 11, 2018
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