While many states in America make it relatively simple and straightforward to access public records, Wyoming is a little bit different.
Having a reputation across the country for being somewhat “difficult” when it comes to public record access, the US Center for Public Integrity even gave Wyoming their lowest possible ranking in 2015.
At the same time, because of its somewhat limited population, the state of Wyoming doesn’t get nearly as many public record requests as other states across the country.
This has made Wyoming a little bit resistant to changing their public record access rules and regulations, taking more of an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of approach. Legislation to change this is a very low priority.
Below we dig a little bit deeper into the ins and outs of what you need to know to conduct effective background checks in the state of Wyoming.
We cover the kind of information you’ll have access to, the types of organizations you’ll need to reach out to for more details, and how to try and streamline the process as much as possible.
Wyoming Background Check Info You Need to Know
Right out of the gate, it’s important to understand that there are almost no real rules, regulations, or laws and statutes at the state level having to do with open records and public record access.
Wyoming has absolutely no time limit requirements for public officials to adhere to when it comes to responding to requests. Wyoming also doesn’t have any way to enforce that public record requests are responded to or approved, either.
On top of that, Wyoming does not provide for an appeals process for any public records request that does end up getting delayed or denied outright.
Interestingly enough, though, is that those living outside of the state of Wyoming actually have a bit of an easier time accessing public records inside of the state of Wyoming.
These individuals and organizations can request public documentation and information from every governmental agency in the state, as well as all three levels of the government of Wyoming – the executive level, the legislative level, and each of the individual judicial branches.
There are absolutely no exemptions and nondesignated record custodians to hinder these kinds of searches for individuals outside Wyoming, either.
More specific information about these kinds of record requests can be made by visiting www.wyoming.gov.
Can Anyone Look Up Someone’s Background in Wyoming?
As we just highlighted a moment ago, individuals inside of the state of Wyoming (citizens of Wyoming) as well as business owners in this state are going to have a bit of a more challenging time gaining access to public records than those living outside of the state.
Some public records can be found online in Wyoming without having to go through a request or application process, though.
Others, however, do require a formal request to be made – and many of these requests need to be made either in person, through “snail mail”, or over the phone directly.
The trouble with digging up information in Wyoming is that each and every single organization and department that maintains public records has its own specific rules, its own specific requirements, and its own specific request process that needs to be followed.
You’ll want to expect there to be quite a bit of variation from one record organization to the next, that’s for sure.
It’s not a bad idea to begin your public records search by first making a list of all the information you want to access in the first place.
From there you want to find out what organizations or government departments need to be contacted to dig up that kind of info. Make sure to get their contact information – specifically a name and a phone number of someone to contact.
Only after you have gathered all of that data will you want to begin making phone calls.
Contact each office directly, asked them what the public record access process is like, and record that information.
Get these details from every one of those organizations and then go through each individual application/request process to the letter. That will greatly increase your chances of getting the information you are after.
You also want to make sure that you can provide:
- Your full name and contact information (including phone and email address)
- The kind of information that you are looking for, even the document type you are after
- When you’d like to receive these documents by (recognizing you’re still operating on Wyoming’s schedule)
- How you’d like these documents and information to be delivered to
All of that will go a long way towards helping to streamline the process in a state that is notoriously difficult to run background checks.
What Type of Info Shows Up on a Wyoming Background Check?
Background check information in Wyoming can be a little spotty, but you’ll still be able to get access to public records including:
- Wyoming criminal records
- Wyoming court records
- Wyoming inmate records and
- Wyoming vital records
It’s all really a matter of contacting the right organization and making sure that you adhere to their record request rules as closely as possible.
Let’s start with Wyoming criminal records.
For starters, you’ll want to know that Wyoming keeps and maintains criminal records in the state indefinitely.
If there is any criminal information to be discovered when running a background check (no matter how far back the incident may have occurred) Wyoming is going to have a record of it. The only exception to this policy are criminal records that have been expunged (and expungement is pretty rare in this state).
You’ll want to contact the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation directly to begin these kinds of searches. You may even have to contact the Office of the Wyoming Attorney General for more information, too.
It’s important to understand that Wyoming may not choose to disclose this information even if you make a quest, though.
Should they give you the “green light”, however, you can expect to find information including:
- Name and date of birth
- Any available mugshots
- Fingerprint information
- Information regarding distinguishing features (scars and tattoos)
- A full rundown of all offenses (misdemeanors as well as felonies)
- A full rundown of crimes individuals have been arrested for or charged with
Court records in Wyoming are also very challenging to gain access to, not only because Wyoming is notoriously tightlipped with this kind of information but also because you have to contact each individual county clerk’s office for details at that level.
Wyoming does not have any online search tools that allow you access to cases in the state, though you can visit the Wyoming Judicial Branch website for help finding the right county clerk office you need to contact to conduct this check if approved.
You can also visit the Clerk’s Office of the Wyoming Supreme Court for help in this department, though they may or may not approve your background request application. There are also almost always fees associated with applying for and requesting this information, fees that are not refundable even if they choose not to respond to your request or deny it outright.
Inmate Records in the state of Wyoming are handled by the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
These kinds of records can be found by visiting the Wyoming DOC website directly, as this organization has a full “offender locator” page. Those running background checks with these tools will need to include the Wyoming DOC inmate number and the first two letters of the offender’s last name that they are searching for.
Without that information, these tools are very difficult to use.
On the flip side of things, though, these inmate search tools are available 100% free of charge, online, and without any application process necessary.
Vital records in the state of Wyoming are amongst the most difficult to gain access to.
Wyoming takes the personal and private information of their citizens very seriously, not providing a lot of public access to information like:
- Birth certificates
- Adoption records
- Marriage licenses
- Divorce certificates
- Death certificates
Anyone that wants to gain access to these kinds of records will need to provide a reason for accessing this information that the state feels is valid. They’ll also have to reach out directly to the Wyoming Department of Public Health (the department that maintains these records).
The only exception is death records that are at least 50 years old or older. Those records are maintained by the Wyoming State Archives and are publicly accessible.
It’s also important to know that Wyoming has absolutely no public records custodians for official state records.
Because there isn’t the custodian of public records there’s no way to appeal a public record request denial without actually going to court in this state.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Reach?
As mentioned a moment ago, Wyoming maintains criminal records in its database indefinitely unless records have been specifically expunged or sealed from public view.
This allows the state of Wyoming to be in full compliance with the seven-year rules established by the Fair Credit Reporting Act at the federal level as well as the Title VII language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But it also allows them to maintain and provide criminal record reports stretching much farther back than that, too – though getting approved to have a look at these kinds of records can be a bit of a challenge.
How Do I Run a Wyoming Background Check?
Running a background check in the state of Wyoming is definitely going to be a bit of an involved process.
For starters, you’ll first need to identify the kind of information that you are going to be looking, to begin with.
The state of Wyoming requires that you are very detailed in your records request applications, not only stating that you’d like to see “criminal reports” for the purposes of a pre-employment check but also explaining in-depth what kind of information you’d like access to in those criminal records, too.
From there, you’re going to need to find out what kind of department in the state of Wyoming is responsible for keeping and maintaining those records specifically.
This usually involves quite a few phone calls and the help of friendly state employees to point you in the right direction.
After that, you’ll need to contact each office directly, tell them why you are hoping to make these kinds of record requests, and then go through their specific request application process.
Then it is entirely up to those organizations to either grant your request and provide you with the records that you are looking for or to deny your request outright.
Upon an outright denial, you only have a handful of appeal routes available, all of which involve you petitioning the Wyoming legal system directly for access to this information.
As we said, it is a very involved process!
How Long Does It Take to Run a Wyoming Background Check?
Unlike most other states across the country, Wyoming does not have any rules or regulations in place mandating how long it takes public servants and public officeholders to either respond to your background check request or to furnish you with the information that you have requested in the first place.
This means that it could take a couple of days for Wyoming officials to get back to you about the status of your request, or it could take a couple of weeks – or you may never get a direct answer.
It also means that they are under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to provide you with access to the information you’re looking for in a timely manner, and they do not have to provide you with a reason for the delay or the outright denial.
You are sort of at the mercy of the Wyoming public record organization that keeps these records throughout the entirety of the process.
The bottom line is this – The state of Wyoming has absolutely no mandated or legal time frames to fulfill requests or provide guidance as to an approval or denial of a request, to begin with.
How Much Do Background Checks in Wyoming Cost?
In Wyoming, state law says that only the real cost of the materials used to fulfill a public records request can be reimbursed in the form of fees.
Any labor that was used to fulfill the requests cannot be charged for in any way whatsoever.
The only public records that may incur additional fees are those established by the Wyoming Department of Motor Vehicles, and those fees can only be attached to the specific data requested for commercial purposes exclusively.
Because of the nature of public record-keeping in the state of Wyoming is impossible to know exactly how much it’s going to cost for each background check, just because it’s impossible to know what the real cost of materials used to fulfill that check will be.
It’s possible that the public official you speak to when requesting this check will be able to give you a ballpark figure, but even then the number may or may not be fully accurate.
Are There Background Checks for Firearms in Wyoming?
Federal law requires that every Federal Firearms License dealer runs each individual sale through the FBI background check process, either taking advantage of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or running checks directly through the FBI themselves.
Because Wyoming does not have any laws maintaining a “point of contact” for the NICS system, all background checks through FFL dealers are handled with the FBI directly.
At the same time, federal law does not require FFL to run background checks if a firearm purchaser presents a valid state-license to purchase or possess firearms at the point of sale.
This means that individuals that hold a Wyoming Concealed Carry Weapon permit (CCW) are able to purchase firearms directly from FFL dealers while bypassing the Form 4473 process.
What About Wyoming Driving Records?
Driving records in the state of Wyoming can be accessed by individuals looking for their own driving records as well as businesses and organizations looking to conduct pre-employment background checks if they are involved in the transportation industry.
All of the checks need to go through the Wyoming Department of Motor Vehicles directly.
Can I Search Wyoming Sex Offender Records?
The records that are easiest to search for in the state of Wyoming are definitely the records pertaining to Wyoming sex offenders.
Anyone – citizen of Wyoming or not – has the opportunity to search the Wyoming Sex Offender Registry (SOR) 100% free of charge without any restriction whatsoever.
These records are kept and maintained by each individual sheriff’s office in each individual county, with regular updates made to these records to make sure that they are as accurate as possible.
Convicted sex offenders are also required to add their information to this database and to provide updates as necessary, though these updates aren’t free. Sex offenders will have to pay different fees to amend and update their registration, fees that are dependent on the kind of impression is being updated in the first place.
More information about this registry and full access to the information contained within can be found at the www.wyomingdci.wyo.gov website.
Just navigate to the Sex Offender Register portion of the site and you’ll be provided with all the information and access you are looking for.
How Do I Get Credit History During a Background Check?
Unsurprisingly, the state of Wyoming has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with credit history background checks.
Instead, businesses and individuals that are looking to run these kinds of checks (especially as part of a pre-employment process) are going to need to contact three main credit bureaus in the United States responsible for maintaining this information in the first place.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the organizations to contact, and they’ll be able to provide individuals and organizations with the information necessary to apply for and complete these kinds of checks.
You should know that these organizations are required to abide by all of the federal rules and regulations, and laws passed as part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
These three organizations will only be able to conduct a search after the individual that is the subject of the background check provides their written and signed consent and is given a copy of any of the information used to make a pre-employment decision (or instructions for how to find that information, too).