Massachusetts Public Records
While Massachusetts has the Massachusetts Public Information Act that allows the public to access government records, the state is one of the most challenging states regarding access to public records. This is mainly because the law has a lot of exemptions, and there is no centralized repository for public records.
That said, there are still ways to access public records in Massachusetts.
How to Find Massachusetts Public Records
As with any other state, Massachusetts has public records available for request if needed. The process of requesting public records in Massachusetts is done by submitting a written request to the state agency where the records are located.
The agencies have ten days to respond to the request and may charge a fee for the copies. If the agency denies the request, it must give a reason for the denial.
Depending on the type of records you request, you can access them online, by mail, or in person.
Some individuals and companies also use third-party websites to access public records. These websites have no affiliation with the state of Massachusetts, but they may have a public records database that you can search.
Are Massachusetts Public Records Available Online?
Digitization has made it easier for the public to access government records that are available online. In Massachusetts, some public records are available online, while others must be requested from the agency.
For example, the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services has iCORI Services, allowing the public to access criminal offender records online. You can also access vital records online through the state's vital records website.
Other types of records, such as court records, must be requested from the relevant agency.
What Records are Available in Massachusetts?
Depending on the state agency, different types of records may be available. Some of the most commonly requested public records in Massachusetts include:
- Criminal Records
- Vital Records
- Court Records
- Property Records
- Driving Records
- Business Licenses
- And more
What Records are Non-Public in Massachusetts?
There are several exemptions to the Massachusetts public records law. Some of the most common exemptions include:
- Information that would violate an individual’s right to privacy, such as medical records and social security numbers
- Personnel records
- Records that are part of an ongoing investigation
- Adoption and juvenile records
- Child abuse cases
- Trade secrets
- Certain financial information
- Court-sealed cases
The Supervisor of Public Records can also exempt records from disclosure if it finds that the public interest in withholding the records outweighs the public interest in disclosing them. Appeals should be sent to them for review.
Types of Public Records Available in Massachusetts
Below are common types of public records in Massachusetts:
Massachusetts Public Criminal Records
The Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) is Massachusetts's central repository for criminal justice information. The DCJIS has an online portal called iCORI Services, where the public can access criminal offender records.
To use the iCORI Services, you must create an account and pay a fee. You will be asked if you want to be registered as an individual or a business. After registering, you can access criminal offender records for $25 per search.
Note that iCORI only offers name-based searches. To conduct a fingerprint-based search, you must request it from the DCJIS.
You need to submit the following to the DCJIS:
- Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Personal Request Form
- Money order of 25
- A copy of your driver’s license or state ID
You can mail it to:
Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Massachusetts :
Arrest Records and Warrants
Arrest records can be accessed if you request them from the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. In most cases, these will be police departments. iCORI services also have a section for arrest records, which you can access if you create an account and pay the $25 fee.
If you want to check if there is a warrant out for your arrest, you can contact the clerk of courts in the county where the warrant was issued.
Inmate and Jail Records
To find an inmate, you must know their full name and date of birth. The search will return the inmate’s name, photo, DOC number, location, age, race, and gender.
Jails and Prisons in Massachusetts :
Massachusetts Background Checks
Massachusetts adheres to federal and state laws regarding background checks. The laws stipulate that an employer can only require a background check if it is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
To obtain a criminal background check in Massachusetts, you must contact the DCJIS. You can request a name-based or fingerprint-based search. However, most employers prefer to receive fingerprint-based searches.
The Department of Early Education and Care’s Background Record Check program provides background checks for childcare providers and employees.
The state also has a Ban-the-Box law, which prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial job application.
How to find Sex Offenders in Massachusetts
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) manages Massachusetts's Sex Offender Registry Board Public Website. The registry contains information on Level 2 and 3 sex offenders, as well as Level 1 offenders who have been designated as sexual predators by a court.
You can search for sex offenders by name, city/town, or zip code. The search will return the offender’s name, address, photo, and level of offense.
Massachusetts Public Vital Records
The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS) under the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is responsible for maintaining and issuing vital records, such as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses.
You can order these records through the following :
- Mail: You can download the Vital Record Application Form from the RVRS website and mail them to the registry along with a money order or cashier’s check. The cost of certificates is $32.
- In Person: The Registry Counter is open from Monday–Friday from 8:45 a.m.–4:45 p.m. You may request the certificate and pay the fee in person.
- Online: You can order certificates online through VitalChek, a third-party vendor. You will need to pay an additional processing fee on top of the cost of the certificate.
- By Phone: Individuals may call VitalChek at (617) 740-2606 to order certificates over the phone. They will need to pay an additional processing fee on top of the certificate cost.
Massachusetts Court Records
The Massachusetts Court System website allows individuals to search for court cases through Trial Court Records, Massachusetts Appeals and Supreme Judicial Court, and Divorce Records.
The County Clerk of Courts is responsible for maintaining the court records for their county. You can also contact them to inquire about accessing the records.
State Court System in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Court System is divided into six levels:
- Supreme Judicial Court
- The Appeals Court
- The Executive Office of the Trial Court
- The 7 Trial Court departments
- Massachusetts Probation Service
- The Office of Jury Commissioner
Courts in Massachusetts :
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is responsible for issuing and maintaining driving records. In Massachusetts, there are two types of driving records: unattested public driving records and true and attested public driving records.
Unattested public driving records are used for personal and informational purposes. The cost of an unattested public driving record is $8.
True and attested public driving records are used for official and court purposes wherein the Registrar of Motor Vehicles must certify that the record is a true copy of what is on file. The cost of a true and attested public driving record is $20.
You can order driving records through the following methods:
- Online: You can order driving records through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Online Services Portal or myRMV. You must create an account and log in to request the record. You need to provide several pieces of information, such as your name, date of birth, driver's license number, and Social Security Number.
- By Mail: An accomplished Public Driving Record Request form must be mailed to the address in the form together with a check or money order.
Civil Driving Infractions
Unlike criminal cases, civil driving infractions are not tried in criminal court. Instead, they are tried in the clerk magistrate’s hearing division of the appropriate district or municipal court.
Common infractions include speeding, running a red light, or failure to wear a seatbelt. The penalties for civil driving infractions usually involve a fine.
Massachusetts License Plate Lookup
License plate lookup is a service that allows you to search for information about a vehicle’s owner using the license plate number. This service is helpful if you want to find out more about a car you saw on the road or if you want to check if a vehicle has been reported stolen.
While you can request a driving record that includes information about the registered owner of a vehicle, this type of record is only available to authorized individuals, such as law enforcement officers and employers.
However, you can try to contact the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to request this information.
Massachusetts Property and Asset Records Online
The Secretary of State’s office is responsible for maintaining property records in Massachusetts. The website provides an online database where you can search for property records by county. Once you choose the county, you will be directed to the county register of deeds website, wherein you can search by business or individual name.
Property records typically contain information about the owner of the property, as well as the property’s value and taxes.
Important Government Agencies in Massachusetts
Below are some essential government agencies in Massachusetts that maintain public records:
- Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Office of Governor
- Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
- Massachusetts Legislature
- Office of Attorney General
- Department of Public Health
- Massachusetts State Police
- Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS)
- Massachusetts Court System
- Office of State Treasurer and Receiver General
- Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
- Massachusetts Department of Correction
Counties in Massachusetts
List of Content
- How to Find Massachusetts Public Records
- What Records are Available in Massachusetts?
- Types of Public Records Available in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Public Criminal Records
- Arrest Records and Warrants
- Inmate and Jail Records
- Massachusetts Background Checks
- Massachusetts Public Vital Records
- Massachusetts Court Records
- Driving Records
- Civil Driving Infractions
- Massachusetts License Plate Lookup
- Massachusetts Property and Asset Records Online
- Important Government Agencies in Massachusetts