Any information that a local, state or federal government agency creates, receives, records, files, maintains, and stores are considered a public record and are available for anyone to inspect or copy.
That information can be emails, photographs, written communication, maps, electronic media, or any other material, regardless of physical form.
Individuals can typically access public records online, by mail, online, or in person. The government agency responsible for the records must provide detailed information regarding how an individual can go about requesting a public record, the fees associated, and the time it will take to produce the record.
Not all “public records” are actually “public.” There are many exemptions based on state and federal law, and it can be challenging to figure out what is available and what isn’t. That’s why we have put together this comprehensive guide on Hawaii public records.
We will begin by covering federal and state laws that define public records.
Which Federal Laws Apply to Public Records in the United States?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law in 1966, grants the public the right to request, inspect, and copy records from federal government agencies. The goal of the FOIA is to support the United States’ democratic beliefs by providing all citizens with an open and transparent government.
The FOIA requires that federal government agencies promptly respond to a citizen’s request for public records. If the information requested is not immediately available, the agency responsible for the record must provide a written statement that explains the delay and the soonest date the record can be ready. In addition, if the information requested is exempt by law, the agency must cite the specific law as to why the agency could not disclose the information.
How does Hawaii Law Define public Records?
Hawaii’s Office of Information Practices (OIP) is responsible for promoting an open and transparent government by administering the state’s public records laws:
- Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA): the UIPA is Hawaii’s law that mandates open access to government records. See Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) Chapter 92F.
- Sunshine Law: the Sunshine Law requires open public meetings. See HRS Chapter 92, Part I.
Both laws are meant to provide citizens with an open government that they can closely examine and participate in while ensuring personal privacy rights as granted by the Hawaii State Constitution.
A government agency is required to allow an individual to review and copy requested documents within ten business days after receiving a request from the individual unless the information requested is exempted by law.
The agency can extend the timeframe by an additional twenty business days if the agency provides the requester with a written statement with the original ten business days explaining what unusual circumstances caused the delay.
An individual can submit a written request to amend or correct a personal record. They must include proof that there is a misrepresentation, misleading entry, or factual error in the personal record.
The government agency responsible for the record must acknowledge receipt of the request within twenty business days. It must immediately correct or amend the record if the evidence backs up the request. If not, the agency can refuse to correct or amend the record. In this case, the agency must take the following steps:
- Provide a written statement explaining the reason for the refusal and the agency’s steps regarding a review of the refusal.
- The agency has 30 business days after receiving to make a final decision. Suppose the agency decides to refuse to amend or correct the record. In that case, they must provide the requester with a written explanation for the refusal after review and inform them of obtaining appropriate judicial remedy.
If permitted, the individual can file a written statement explaining why they disagree with the agency’s refusal in their personal record.
Hawaii Public Records Examples
Hawaii public records include, but are not limited to:
- Court records
- Criminal records
- Voting records
- Business records
- Driving records
- Government contracts
- Licensing records
- Historical records
- Voting records
Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) exempts certain public records from being open and available for inspection, such as the following examples:
- Government records that would result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy if disclosed
- Government records regarding the defense or prosecution where a county or state is a party in a judicial or quasi-judicial action
- Government records that are confidential under state or federal law that or would cause an interruption in legitimate government function
- A legislative committee’s drafts or working papers such as unfiled reports and budgets.
- Medical history
- Ongoing criminal investigations
- Records related to eligibility for welfare benefits or social services
- An agency’s personnel files, except for records having to do with employee misconduct.
- An individual’s history with a non-governmental agency
- An individual’s financial information includes income, net worth, credit details, bank balances, assets, liabilities, or financial history.
- Details regarding an inquiry into an individual’s license status except for cases involving the discipline of the licensee, insurance and employment details regarding a licensee, or complaints on file
- Social security numbers
- Any records that would result in a substantial and verifiable risk of harm to a person if disclosed.
For a complete list of exemptions with the corresponding code and responsible government entity, click here.
Where can I get Hawaii Public Records?
Hawaii has a helpful Records Report System (RRS), a digital database managed by the state’s Office of Information Practices (OIP), containing over 29,000 record titles listing what government records are open (or not) for public inspection. While this database does not provide the actual records, you can narrow down your search for information using this tool.
The RRS provides the following details regarding record titles:
- If the record is confidential or public and if it’s a personal record
- The record’s storage and retrieval information
- The government agency responsible for maintaining the record
- The contact information and title of the officer who oversees the record
- The record’s retention period
To access the RSS, select from one of the following options:
- A record by the list of name or RSN number
- Record by access classification
- Lawsuits regarding the UIPA
Before beginning your search for court records, it’s helpful to understand how the court system works in Hawaii. The section provides an overview of Hawaii’s courts’ overall structure and function and how to request copies of court records.
Hawaii has two separate court systems, which are funded by the state legislature. The Federal Court System administers justice based on federal laws. The State Court System includes trial and appellate courts.
The state’s appellate courts include the Hawaii Supreme Court and the Intermediate Court of Appeals.
Hawaii’s trial courts include the Circuit, District, and Family and courts. Four judicial districts represented by the four major islands:
- First Circuit: includes the island of Oahu and other islands that are not covered by any of the other circuits.
- Second Circuit: includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Molokini, and Kahoolawe.
- Third Circuit: includes the island of Hawaii.
- Fourth Circuit: the fourth circuit merged into the Third Circuit in 1943; therefore, it no longer exists. Originally, the Fourth Circuit represented parts of the island of Hawaii.
- Fifth Circuit: includes the islands of Niihau and Kauai.
Hawaii Supreme Court
The Hawaii Supreme Court, the state’s court of last resort, hears appeals when an application for a transfer from or for writs of certiorari to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court presides over the following:
- Reserved questions of law from the tax appeal court, the land court, and circuit courts
- Certified questions of law from federal courts
- Applications for writs to judges
- Election complaints
- Establishes rules of practice and procedural regulations for all state courts
- The licensing and disciplining of attorneys
- The discipline of judges
The Supreme Court decides on appeals based on the written record, although the court will hear oral arguments in certain cases. Evidence is only heard in original proceedings.
Supreme Court justices each participate in any court matter that is considered substantive.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court oversees the administration of all courts and selects an administrative director who is responsible for managing operations in the entire state of Hawaii.
Intermediate Court of Appeals
The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) hears just about every appeal from trial courts. The ICA also hears appeals from certain state agencies. The ICA consists of six judges and is set up as a three-judge panel when hearing cases.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals can choose to hear cases where there is no prior suit if the law is questioned in a civil action, Circuit Court proceeding, or Tax Appeal Court proceeding. The parties must agree about the law in question.
If allowed under the Hawaii Revised Statutes, an ICA case can be transferred to the state’s Supreme Court.
Land and Tax Appeal Courts
The Land Court, based in Honolulu, HI, has exclusive original jurisdiction over title, easement, and real property registration matters. The Land Court also deals with any concerns regarding the Land Court Registration Law.
The Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court of the First Circuit determines which judge or judges handle what Land Court matters.
The Registrar, an employee of the Land Court, maintains all records filed under the Land Court Registration law.
Hawaii’s Tax Appeal Court hears appeals concerning real property tax assessments or matters from the Boards of Review. There is no jury as it’s a court of record.
The Administrative Judge of the First Circuit Court Is responsible for assigning to hear these matters.
Hawaii’s Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases. Circuit Courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over guardianship, probate, and cases involving felony charges.
Circuit Courts hear all civil cases in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $40,000. Circuit courts are trial courts that typically have juries.
Circuit Courts work alongside District Courts in civil cases where the contested amount is between $10,000 and $40,000. These are non-jury cases.
District Courts can transfer cases regarding misdemeanor violations and mechanics liens to the Circuit Courts for a jury to hear.
Circuit Courts contact information can be found below:
Family Courts, founded by statute in 1965, are responsible for providing a fair, economical, accessible, and speedy platform To resolve matters concerning children and families.
Family Court hears the following matters regarding children:
- Domestic relations
- Status offenses
- Neglect and abuse
- Termination of parental rights.
The Family Court Is also responsible for presiding over domestic relations cases, such as:
- Child support
- Miscellaneous custody matters
- Uniform child custody jurisdiction cases
- Domestic Violence
The Family Court also hears matters involving guardianships of adults, civil commitment cases, and adult abuse cases.
Hawaii’s District Courts have jurisdiction over:
- Appeals from cases in which the administration denies motor vehicle registration.
- Civil actions not exceeding $40,000 (District Courts do not have jurisdiction over actions for slander, libel, defamation of character, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, seduction, or breach of promise of marriage)
- Civil cases for a specific job when the job’s fair market value does not exceed $20,000.
- Criminal offenses resulting in a prison sentence of less than one year
- Ejectment proceedings, except for cases regarding a title to real estate
- Offenses classified as violations of county ordinances or state laws
- A tenant who has filed a petition against their landlord for restraining orders against utility shut-off and lockout
- Temporary restraining orders (TROs), injunctions, and petitions against harassment concerning parties who have not dated or are not related to one another.
- Probable cause hearings for felony cases.
- Small claims cases with amounts under $5,000.
- Landlord-tenant money damages claims, counterclaims, and summary possession actions in any amount
- Traffic violations and infractions
Are court records public information?
Under the Hawaii code, court records are considered public records unless otherwise stated by law.
Search Court Records
The State of Hawaii Judiciary maintains two online portals, Hoohiki and eCourt Kokua, that offer individuals access to court records.
While these databases are derived from official records, they do not contain all court details. Therefore, to obtain certified court records, you must submit a form at the appropriate courthouse.
Sealed documents, sealed cases, and confidential cases are not available for the public to access online.
The Judiciary Information Management System (JIMS) eCourt Kokua allows you to access the following information:
- District Court
- Circuit Court
- Land Court and Tax Appeal Court
- Supreme Court
- Family Court criminal
- Intermediate Court of Appeals
You can search by entering any of the following information online:
You can also view or purchase document subscriptions here.
eCourt Kokua only has information available for download and purchase for District Court civil cases filed on or after October 7, 2019, Circuit Court civil cases filed on or after October 28, 2019, and Land Court and Tax Appeal Court cases filed on or after November 18, 2019.
You can search for Family Court civil cases using Hoʻohiki.
The Department of the Attorney General oversees the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC), which is responsible for the following:
- Hawaii’s Criminal History Record Information, or CJIS: the state’s system for documenting information regarding an individual’s criminal history
- Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS): the state’s fingerprinting process
- Sex Offender and Other Covered Offender Registry
- eCrim: the state’s Adult Criminal Conviction Information database
This section on Hawaii criminal records outlines information regarding the following types of criminal records:
- Inmates, paroles, and probations
- Juvenile criminals
- Sex offenders
We will also cover which government agency maintains criminal records and how to search for them.
We will begin with arrest records.
Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) states that arrests are public records if there was a guilty conviction or a dismissal because of mental or physical disease, defect, or disorder.
These arrest records can be found online at Public Access Sites and www.ecrim.ehawaii.gov, the Adult Criminal Information site (eCrim).
If an individual’s arrest did not result in a conviction or is pending, the record is not available to the public as it is considered confidential.
An arrest record is created by a law enforcement agency after an individual is apprehended and taken into custody. An arrest record typically includes the following information:
- Date and location of the arrest
- Details regarding the incident
- Arresting officer’s information
- Witness information and details
- Physical description of the arrested person
- Mugshot and fingerprints
- Arrested person’s personal information
- Criminal charges filed
- Interrogation details
- Bail amount
- Court date
Arrest records do not determine guilt or innocence. However, arrest records are often used in court.
Below is an overview of Hawaii’s arrests as well as crime statistics based on 2019 FBI reports.
- Total arrests: 25,166
- Arrests for drug possession offenses: 3,530
- Arrests for drug sales offenses: 280
- Arrests for gambling offenses: 172
- Arrests for crimes against property: 3,251
- Arrests for prostitution violations: 214
- Arrests for crimes against society offenses: 17,780
- Arrests for crimes against person offenses: 4,135
- There were 379.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Hawaii, compared to 379.4 per 100,000 people in the US.
- There were 2,841.2 property crimes per 100,000 people in Hawaii, compared to 2,101.9 per 100,000 people in the US.
Hawaii’s Criminal Justice Data Center is responsible for issuing CHRCs, or criminal history record checks, which list adults that have been convicted of a crime. In Hawaii, a CHRC is commonly called a “Police Abstract” or “Police Clearance.”
You cannot request arrest records that are pending or resulted in a non-conviction.
You can check an individual’s criminal history by fingerprints or name. There are several ways to search, including in person, by mail, or online.
Request a CHRC In Person
You can visit any of the five Police Departments or Police Stations, which are located across the state of Hawaii, to request a CHRC. You will be required to provide the person’s name, birth date, sex, and social security number. You can pay the $25.00 fee per printed copy by cash, cashier’s check, or money order.
Request a CHRC Online
You can conduct a name-based search online using Hawaii’s Adult Criminal Conviction Information (eCrim) Web Site. This site provides information regarding a person’s criminal history. The fee is $15.00, and you can pay by credit card for this type of report.
Request a CHRC by Mail
You can complete the Request for Criminal History Check form and mail it to the CHRC Unit in Honolulu with the fee of $30.00 per record check (pay by cashier’s check, money order). In addition, you can request that the results be certified and/or notarized. The state charges $20.00 for this service, so the total fee would be $50.00.
It typically takes 7 to 10 days to process when requesting a CHRC by mail.
Inmate, Parole, and Probation Records
Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety oversees the state’s Correction Division, which is responsible for the following jails:
- Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC): OCCC is located in Honolulu and is the state’s largest jail facility. OCCC is responsible for managing and operating the Laumaka Work Furlough Center (LWFC), an employment avenue for inmates.
- Hawaii Community Correctional Center (HCCC): The HCCC’s main facility is in Hilo, and the HCCC’s reintegration program is in Panaewa.
- Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC): Located in Wailuku, the MCCC houses pretrial detainees and offers reintegration programs for felons and parole violators.
- Kauai Community Correctional Center (KCCC): The KCCC is located in Lihue and offers substance abuse treatment and work furlough programs.
These jails are located on each of Hawaii’s major islands and act as short-term, pretrial housing for individuals charged with misdemeanors or individuals convicted of felonies who are transitioning back into the community.
The Correction Division manages the following prisons:
- Kulani Correctional Facility (located on the Big Island of Hawaii)
- Halawa Correctional Facility (located on the island of Oahu)
- Waiawa Correctional Facility (located on the island of Oahu)
- Women’s Community Correctional Center (located on the island of Oahu)
The Saguaro Correctional Center houses inmates on the mainland of Hawaii.
Search Hawaii Inmate Records
The Hawaii Department of Correction (TDOC) is responsible for creating and maintaining the state’s inmate records. Inmate records include information regarding an offender’s parole or probation status.
You can search Hawaii SAVIN to find out an inmate’s status, which includes parole information. A search will result in the following information:
- Offender name and any aliases
- Custody status
- Contact Facility
- Offender ID
- Sentence Status
- Any additional information
Sex Offender Registry
The Hawaii Bureau of Investigation (TBI) maintains the state’s sex offender registry.
The state of Hawaii defines a sex offender as:
- An individual convicted of a sexual offense at any time
- An individual charged with a sexual offense that is released into the community, acquitted because of a mental or physical disorder, disease, or defect and released into the community, or found unfit to proceed.
Search the Hawaii Sex Offender Registry
To search the Hawaii Sex Offender Registry online, enter any of the following information:
- Offender type (offender against minor, sex offender, or all)
- Covered offender status (registered, incarcerated, absconded, non-compliant, confirmed out-of-state, or all)
- First and last name
- Street Name
- Radius (one, two, or three-mile search – zip code is ignored using the radius option)
- Zip Code
A Hawaii sex offender search will result in the following information:
- Full Name
- Offender type
- Offender status
- The date record was last updated
- Birth year
- Hair Color
- Eye Color
- Aliases, including date of birth
- Scars, marks, and tattoos
- Vehicle information
- License type
- Place of offense
- Disposition date
- Appeal status
- Appeal date
- Judgment of conviction
Convicted sex offenders must register for life in the state of Hawaii unless they meet certain requirements, and the court approves the petition to terminate the registration requirements.
Vital records document major life events, such as birth, marriage, adoption, divorce, and death.
The Hawaii Department of Health is responsible for maintaining the state’s vital records.
The Hawaii Office of Vital Records does not issue divorce certificates; you will need to contact Family Court to obtain a copy of a divorce certificate.
To request a vital record from the state of Hawaii, you must prove that you have a direct and tangible interest in that record by meeting all eligibility requirements. You will be required to submit one or more of the following items at the time of your request:
- A government-issued photo ID
- Written authorization signed by the person listed on the record allowing you to obtain their certificate and a copy of their valid government-issued photo ID,
- Approved court-issued documentation
You must provide acceptable identification and eligibility documentation to obtain a vital record. Otherwise, the state will delay your request, deny your request, or return your request.
Birth and Marriage Certificates
You can order birth and marriage/civil union certificates from the state of Hawaii online or by mail.
Order Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificates Online
To order certified copies of birth and civil union/marriage certificates online, complete the following steps:
- Log in or order as a guest
- Choose birth or marriage/civil union options
- Select your relationship to the person listed on the record
- Choose the number of copies you want
- Upload or mail a photocopy of the required documentation
- Enter your (the requester) information, including the reason as to why you are ordering the certificate
- Add your shipping information
- Fill in details regarding the certificate you are requesting
- Certify that you are authorized to make the request and sign by typing your name
- Pay the appropriate fee online (debit or credit card) or by mail (money order or cashier’s check) Payments made online by debit or credit card will result in a quicker turnaround time.
You can check the current processing times for birth or marriage certificates by clicking here.
Records available online date back to July 1909.
Order Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificates by Mail
To order birth certificates or marriage/civil union certificates by mail, complete the following steps:
- Download and complete either the Request For Certified Copy of Birth Record or Request For Certified Copy of Civil Union or Marriage Record, both of which you can fill out online.</li
- Mail the completed form, photocopy of government-issued ID, copies of any required documentation, and payment to the Hawaii Department of Health.
Fees for Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificates
The fees are as follows:
- First certificate copy: $10.00 ($4.00 for each additional copy of the same record if you place the order at the same time)
- Portal administration fee: $2.50 per increment up to five copies
All payments are non-refundable, even if the vital record requested is not found.
You can order Hawaii death certificates in person, by mail, or from the mortuary responsible for the funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, you cannot place an order for a death certificate online at this time.
You must meet the state’s eligibility requirements to request a death certificate.
Request Death Certificates in Person
You can request a death certificate in person in Hawaii. Be sure to call ahead to confirm that the office is open for walk-in service.
In Oahu, you can visit the main Hawaii Department of Health building at 1250 Punchbowl St. If you are on a neighboring island, you can visit your local District Health Office: Hawaii Island, Kauai (808-241-3498) or Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lanai).
You will be required to present an approved government-issued photo ID and any other proof of eligibility documentation when requesting a death certificate in person.
You can pay by credit card, cash, certified check, cashier’s check, or money order when requesting a death certificate in person.
Apply by Mail for Death Certificates
To request a death certificate via mail, complete the following steps:
- Complete the Request for Certified Copy of Death Record form
- Include a photocopy of your government-issued photo identification and eligibility documentation
- Mail your completed application, required documentation, and payment (money order or cashier’s check) to the Hawaii State Department of Health.
Fees for Death Certificates
The fees for death certificates are as follows:
- First certificate copy: $10.00 ($4.00 for each additional copy of the same record if you place the order at the same time)
- Portal administration fee: $2.50 per increment up to five copies
All payments are non-refundable, even if the vital record requested is not found.
Hawaii’s Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs’ Business Registration Division maintains all business records and offers the following online services within their Hawaii Business Express platform:
- Search for registered businesses
- Requests a Certificate of Good Standing
- Purchase documents
- Search for agent information
- Compile a list of registered businesses
Hawaii’s Motor Vehicle Safety Office, a division of the Department of Transportation, is the government agency responsible for maintaining driving records in the state of Hawaii.
You can only request a copy of your own driving history record. Motor carriers or employers can request a driving history record, but only if they submit a notarized request or the driver makes the request.
A DHR has different purposes, which depend on the type of driver:
- Commercial vehicle drivers: a DHR provides details regarding any CDL disqualifying convictions as listed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Administration (FMCSA) rules.
- Non-commercial drivers: a DHR lists any citations and preliminary convictions, although it may not show the final court disposition.
A DHR will show the following information:
- Driver’s name, date of birth, and address
- Driver’s license class, restrictions, and endorsements
- Driver’s license expiration date
- Driver’s license current status
- Any moving traffic violations, crashes, revocations, suspensions, or failures to appear occurring in Hawaii and other states
- Information reported from the last three years from the date of the request
- Suspensions and revocations that are over five years old but are still in effect
If you would like to show that a conviction was overturned, you can request a traffic court report or a traffic abstract.
You can request a copy of your Hawaii Driver History Record (DHR) by mail (request must be notarized) or by visiting one of the following District Courts:
- Hawaii Traffic Violations Bureau – First Circuit: 808-961-7430
- Wahiawa Division: 808-534-6200
- Waialua Division: 808-534-6200
- Kaneohe District Court: 808-534-6300
- Ewa – Pearl City Division: 808-534-6900
- Maui Traffic Violations Bureau – Second Circuit: 808-244-2800
- Oahu District Court: 808-538-5500
- Kauai Traffic Violations Bureau – Fifth Circuit: 808-482-2355
- Waianae At Kapolei Division: 808-954-8575
You will need to complete the Request for Hawaii Driver History Form and pay the fee of $9.00 to obtain your DHR.
Property Tax Records
You can search property tax records in the state of Hawaii by the specific county where the property is located:
What do I do if there is an error with my Public Records in Hawaii?
If you feel that there is an error on your public record, you can contact the government agency responsible for maintaining the record. Typically you can find information regarding what to do in the event of an error on the government agency’s website.