Tennessee Public Records
Technology today has made it easier for citizens to search public records.
Whether you need a background check on an employee, or you need a copy of a birth certificate so you can get a passport, Tennesee makes public records accessible.
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 Tennessee public records law say?
- 2 How can I access public records in Tennessee?
- 3 Tennessee Criminal Records
- 4 Tennessee Inmate Records
- 5 Tennessee court records
- 6 Tennesee Vital Records
- 6.1 What information do I need to request a Tennesee birth certificate?
- 6.2 Where can I find a Tennessee birth certificate?
- 6.3 What information do I need for a death certificate in Tennessee?
- 6.4 Where can I find a Tennessee death certificate?
- 6.5 What information do I need for a marriage certificate in Tennessee?
- 6.6 Where can I find a Tennesee marriage certificate?
- 6.7 What information do I need for a divorce certificate in Tennesee?
- 6.8 Where can I find a Tennessee divorce certificate?
- 7 Tennessee Property Records
- 8 FAQs
- 8.1 Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Tennessee?
- 8.2 Is there a records custodian in Tennessee?
- 8.3 What exemptions exist for public records requests in Tennessee?
- 8.4 How long does Tennessee have to respond to a public records request?
- 8.5 Is there an appeals process in place for public record requests in Tennessee?
- 8.6 Are property records considered public in Tennessee?
- 8.7 What fees are associated with requesting public records in Tennessee?
What does the Tennessee public records law say?
The Tennessee Public Records Act allows citizens to hold the government accountable by providing access to its public records.
As a Tennessee citizen, you have the right to access public records, such as letters, maps, paper files, books, photographs, sound recordings, or other materials. The law applies to every governmental entity. However, some records may have redaction if they contain confidential information.
Tennessee does require you to be a citizen to obtain state records. Many agencies want to see your state photo ID with a current address before they grant your request. If you are from out-of-state, a request can be denied immediately.
Tennessee public records law says the response time for requests is seven days. There is no appeals process, but a lawsuit can be filed to obtain the records.
To learn more about the state’s public records policy, visit TN.gov.
How can I access public records in Tennessee?
For copies of public records access in Tennessee, a person must submit a public records request. The request is sent via mail, email, or phone to the record-holding department.
Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re 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
Tennessee Criminal Records
A background check will be the best bet to have complete information on a potential employee.
If you run your own business, you don’t want to hire someone who will do irreparable harm to your brand name or cause a lawsuit.
However, a person must sign a waiver before an employer can do an in-depth criminal history check.
The Tennesee Bureau of Investigation maintains criminal records in the state.
What’s on a Tennesee criminal record?
A criminal report will be checked against the 14 prisons in Tennessee. Details on arrests, convictions, and incarcerations will be listed.
The Tennessee criminal records are based on fingerprints. Misdemeanors and traffic violations may not appear on a criminal history. However, you can do local criminal records check with the police department or sheriff.
Specific information provided on a background check will include:
- Date of birth
- Driver license number
- Current and past addresses
- Former arrest records
- Current and past warrants
- Sex offender status
Where can I find Tennessee criminal records?
You will use the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation website to access the criminal record.
You will enter the first and last name of the person you are searching for.
The cost for a criminal history background is $29.00 per request and is non-refundable.
Tennessee Inmate Records
Tennessee inmate records will provide you with information on the current prisoners in the system.
Records show that in 2018, Tennessee’s 14 state prisons held 22,130 individuals for state felony offenses.
The Tennesee Department of Corrections maintains inmate records in the state.
What’s on a Tennesee inmate record?
Tennessee inmate records are usually a combination of inmates’ prison situations, including the prisoner’s sentence and a physical description.
Citizens who initiate a search for Inmate records can receive the following information:
- Name and aliases
- Date of Birth
- Height and weight
- DOC ID
- Booking photo
- Assigned location
- Sentence summary
Where can I find Tennessee inmate records?
You will use the Tennessee Department of Corrections Felony Offender Information database to access the inmate record.
You can begin your public records search by entering the first and last name of the inmate or by the Tennessee Department of Corrections ID number.
If you know the inmate has been fingerprinted, that inmate will have a state ID number from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Tennessee court records
The Tennesee judiciary consists of many branches, and it makes documents hard to sometimes track down.
You can obtain documents from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of Criminal Appeals through the Tennessee case management system.
The information in the appellate courts is dated after August 26, 2013, and includes motions, orders, and judgments.
The Supreme Court is the highest in Tennessee. The cases here tend to be criminal, and court cases are appealed from the lower state courts.
The Intermediate Appellate Court cases have been appealed from trial courts, including civil and criminal matters.
Trial courts include chancery court, criminal, circuit, municipal records, and probate courts. The circuit court will hear criminal and civil trials.
In Tennessee, the criminal court takes on cases to lighten the load of the circuit court system and misdemeanor appeals. Probate courts deal in estates, wills, conservatorship, and guardianship.
What’s on a Tennessee court record?
The court records you receive when you request will contain the following:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Descriptions and details of open meetings
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can I find Tennessee court records?
You will search the Tennessee State Courts database to access the court record.
You will need to enter the record by the case number, the case style (ex. Smith vs Acme), the party name (Fred Smith), or the business name or organization (Acme) for your search.
Tennesee Vital Records
The Tennesee Office of Vital Records maintains vital records in the state.
Tennesee’s vital records include:
- Birth Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees
Public record requests for vital records in Tennesee will vary depending on the document you are requesting.
Tennessee Office of Vital Records
Tennessee Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone number: 615-741-1763
What information do I need to request a Tennesee birth certificate?
The Application for Certified Copy of a Tennesee Certificate of Birth 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 before marriage
Where can I find a Tennessee birth certificate?
You can order a Tennesee birth certificate online by e-filing using VitalCheck.
Or, you can request a certified copy of a Tennesee birth record by completing the Application for Certified Copy of a Tennesee Certificate of Birth and submitting it by mail or in person.
The cost of a certified birth certificate in Tennesee is $15.
What information do I need for a death certificate in Tennessee?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Death will ask for specific information when ordering a death record.
- Full name of the deceased
- Date of death
- Age at death
- Place of death
- Funeral home
Where can I find a Tennessee death certificate?
You can order a Tennesee death certificate online by e-filing using VitalCheck.
Or, you can request a certified copy of a Tennessee death record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Death and submitting it by mail or in person.
The cost of a certified death certificate in Tennessee is $15.
What information do I need for a marriage certificate in Tennessee?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Marriage will ask for specific information when ordering a marriage record.
- Full names of both spouses before marriage
- Place the marriage license was issued
- Date of marriage
- Place of marriage
Where can I find a Tennesee marriage certificate?
You can order a Tennesee marriage certificate online using VitalCheck.
You can request a certified copy of a Tennesee marriage record by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Marriage and submitting it by mail or in person to the County Clerk that issued the marriage license.
The cost of a certified marriage certificate in Tennesee is $15.
What information do I need for a divorce certificate in Tennesee?
The Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Marriage will ask for specific information when ordering a divorce record.
- Full names of both spouses before marriage
- Date of divorce
- Place of divorce
Where can I find a Tennessee divorce certificate?
You can order a Tennesee divorce record online using VitalCheck.
You can request a certified copy of a Tennesee divorce decree by completing the Application for a Certified Copy of a Certificate of Marriage and submitting it by mail or in–person to the Clerk of Court that granted the dissolution of marriage.
The cost of a certified divorce decree in Tennesee is $15.
Tennessee Property Records
The Register of Deeds maintains all property transaction maintains property records in Tennessee pursuant to Tennessee public records laws.
The property records you can access include:
- Land records
- Property deeds
- Public notices
- Public inspections
- Real estate information
- 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 Tennessee?
You will need basic information to access a public property record in Tennessee.
Public records request forms, fees, and business hours will vary depending on the Register of Deeds office.
Where can I find a Tennessee property record?
You will need to contact the Tennessee County Registers of Deeds Office where the property record is maintained.
Example – Knox County Register of Deeds
Knox County Register of Deeds website
400 Main Street
Knoxville, Tenn 37902
Phone number: 865-215-2330
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of Tennessee?
Only a citizen of Tennessee can request public records.
If you are not a Tennessee resident, your public records request will likely get denied.
A valid government-issued ID must be shown.
Is there a records custodian in Tennessee?
All agencies with public records must have a records custodian or a public records request coordinator in that agency.
Be specific on your request because the custodian may deny the record search if there is insufficient information.
What exemptions exist for public records requests in Tennessee?
Tennessee has over 500 exemptions which may make it difficult to obtain some documents, but none of the public agencies are exempt.
How long does Tennessee have to respond to a public records request?
Tennessee has seven business days to make the government records available to you or deny them
According to state law and the Attorney General‘s opinion, a denial must be made in writing and must include the reason why the request was denied.
Is there an appeals process in place for public record requests in Tennessee?
While you can appeal to the Comptroller of the Treasury and the Office of Open Records Counsel, there is no appeal provision for public records requests in the state of Tennessee.
A lawsuit can be filed to access the open records.
Are property records considered public in Tennessee?
Real estate records are public, along with property tax information. These records can be found by contacting the County Register of deeds.
For instance, if you live in Memphis, you would contact the Shelby County Register of Deeds.
What fees are associated with requesting public records in Tennessee?
Tennessee fees are $0.15 per page for a black and white copy. For colored duplications, expect to pay $0.50 per page. They do not charge the requestor for the first hour of record searching or copying.
If it takes longer than an hour, Tennessee will charge you a fee based on how much the employee doing the copying makes per hour.
If you do not pay for your records if attempting to pick them up, you will be denied access to the documents.
Online payments are through credit cards.