Kentucky Public Records

Public records in the state of Kentucky began in the year 1852. These records come from all 120 counties of the state. Over the past few decades, digitization of public records has become the norm, allowing government websites and third-party organizations to offer easy access to these records.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state that values transparency. As a result, it has an excellent track record of making documents about its government, laws, policing, courts, and citizens available to the public for inspection. This penchant for transparency is inscribed in Kentucky law.

Open Records Act

The year 1976 saw the Kentucky General Assembly bring into law the Open Records Act, which lays out the conditions of access to the state’s public records. Unless the record in question is exempt from the Open Records Act, which lays out fourteen conditions under which the public does not have the right to inspect a record, these records are available to any citizen regardless of identity.

The Open Records Act makes the availability of access to public records enforceable for every citizen.

Open Meetings Act

1974 saw the Kentucky General Assembly enact the Open Meetings Act. This act establishes the public’s rights to attend or access public meetings. It requires public access to all meetings at which a public agency in a quorum discusses public business. There are exceptions detailed in the statutes, but in theory, any individual may attend a public meeting without identifying themselves unless the exceptions are applicable.

How does the state of Kentucky define public records?

The following Kentucky agencies are required to abide by the conditions of the Open Records Act:

  • Officers of local/state governmental and legislative bodies and their departments
  • Governmental bodies, district school boards, and municipal corporations of cities and counties
  • Agencies of the state or local governments that have been created by statute or legislation
  • Any bodies or agencies that receive 25% of their funding from local or state authorities
  • Any bodies or agencies where public agencies appoint a majority proportion of its governing structure
  • Public agency controlled/created committees, commissions, or boards
  • Interagency bodies

What are the exemptions to the Kentucky Open Records Act?

The following public records are considered exempt from inspection or the conditions laid out in the Open Records Act:

  • Records or portions thereof of a personal nature whose disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy
  • Records disclosed to a public agency in confidence, such as would give an unfair commercial advantage
  • Records regarding potential business locations where no public disclosure of the business/industry has yet been made
  • Records regarding audit criteria or the analytical methods of financial institutions made in conjunction with an agency
  • Records of appraisals of real estate, engineering/feasibility estimates, evaluations related to future property acquisition
  • The test or scoring criteria, questions, or data used in examinations for licenses, employment, or academic examinations prior to the giving of said test or exam
  • Records of legal investigations into statutory/regulatory violations that would reveal identifying information of the informants unless exempted by other statutes
  • Records of preliminary notes, correspondence, or drafts that pass between private individuals and do not give notice of a final action relating to public agencies
  • Records of initial recommendations/memoranda or opinions of policy formation
  • Records whose information is already prohibited by a federal law
  • Records whose information is confidential by order of the General Assembly of Kentucky
  • Records the disclosure of which would reasonably threaten the safety of the public
  • Records accepted by archivists, museums, depositories, or public universities whose donor is not a public agency.
  • Procurement process records
  • Personal communications unrelated to the function of government

Criminal Records of the State of Kentucky

Several types of records detail an individual’s criminal history. Local, county, and state jurisdictions keep a formal record of all offenses, arrests, warrants, and serious traffic violations.

Each state is different in terms of how they store, classify, and organize these records and the level of digitization available. Kentucky, for example, allows you to request criminal background checks in the form of non-official documentation. This means you are provided with a summary of criminal record information, but this is not your official ‘criminal record’ and is absent information like arrest records.

Many third-party agencies, such as SearchSystems.net or Kentucky.StateRecords.org, can help you acquire criminal records if the records available in the background check are insufficient for your purposes.

Background Checks

Criminal records are available to all interested individuals, governmental entities, businesses, or licensing agencies for a fee. These records are offered by the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).

The state of Kentucky utilizes CourtNet 2.0, an online database available throughout the state, to collect and disseminate information on the courts and local cases from the 120 counties in the state. Millions of records are held in CourtNet 2.0, and the system covers the following record types:

  • Misdemeanor cases
  • Traffic cases
  • Felonies (from 1978 to the present)

CourtNet 2.0 does not contain arrest records, nor does it include driving records.

There are two options, both available online, for requesting the criminal record report:

  • FactCheck – allows for online ordering and retrieval of the report.
  • One-Time Request – allows a single order placement receivable by U.S. mail.

All of the information contained in the report comes from state and local court activity, information that is on file in the District Courts, as well as the Circuit Courts of Kentucky’s counties. Expunged/purged cases will not show in the results of the report.

The following case types will appear in the background check:

  • T-type – traffic cases
  • M-type – misdemeanor cases
  • F-type – felony cases
  • CR-type – circuit criminal cases

In addition, the following information will be contained in the background check:

  • Location of case filing
  • Case #
  • Type of charge
  • Amendments to charge (if applicable)
  • Dispositions/disposition date
  • Date of charge
  • Memos of the circuit court clerk (if any)

The resulting document is non-official. This simply means that it is not a signed order, indictment, or judgment that will be entered into court records. The official records are kept in the Office Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in whichever county the case was filed in.

Can I request a criminal background check on another person?

Yes. Using the same procedure an individual would use to request a background check, a third party can make the request. However, the request will involve the Administrative Office of the Courts Records Unite notifying that individual you have requested their criminal record. That individual will also be sent a copy of the report results.

Can I make an in-person request for a criminal background report?

The Administrative Office of the Courts has a convenient drive-through window at their Frankfort office (1001 Vandalay Drive). You may request a criminal record report there. Cash payment is no longer accepted, but credit, debit, or money order made out to the Kentucky State Treasurer is acceptable. Processing times will take at least 1 hour.

Can I request a criminal background check via mail?

Yes. Print out the Criminal Record Request Form. Mail this form along with a check or money order payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer to the following address:

Administrative Office of the Courts
Records Unit
1001 Vandalay Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601
If you are requesting the report for the purposes of obtaining a license, use the following Licensing Agency Request Form.

What is the fee for the criminal background record?

The fee is $25.00 per report.

Inmate Records of the State of Kentucky

Inmate records are publically available official data of incarcerated individuals in the state or county-run jails or prisons of Kentucky.

Typically these records include basic personal information, as well as the known aliases of the individual. Often these records are accompanied by mug shots, and if not a physical description. Arrest and booking details are also included, along with the charges issued, bail or bond amounts, and all relevant information from the courts.

The following chart details a list of state-run adult correctional facilities. The public has every right to petition these facilities for specific details on the individuals incarcerated in them.

Little Sandy Correctional Complex 505 Prison Connector,
Sandy Hook, 41171
(606) 738-6133
Roederer Correctional Complex 4000 Morgan Rd,
La Grange, 40031
(502) 222-0170
Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women 3000 Ash Ave,
Pewee Valley, 40056
(502) 241-8454
Blackburn Correctional Complex 3111 Spurr Rd,
Lexington, 40511
(859) 246-2366
Northpoint Training Center 710 Walter Reed Rd,
Burgin, 40422
(859) 239-7012
Green River Correctional Complex 1200 River Rd,
Central City, 42330
(270) 754-5415
Western Kentucky Correctional Complex 374 New Bethel Church Rd,
Fredonia, 42411
(270) 388-9781
Kentucky State Penitentiary 266 Water St,
Eddyville, 42038
(270) 388-2211
Bell County Forest Camp 560 Correctional Dr,
Pineville, 40977
(606) 337-7065
Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex 200 Rd to Justice,
West Liberty, 41472
(606) 743-2800
Luther Luckett Correctional Complex 1612 Dawkins Rd,
La Grange, 40031
(502) 222-0363
Kentucky State Reformatory 3001 KY-146,
La Grange, 40032
(502) 222-9441

How can I obtain inmate records in the state of Kentucky?

Some if not all information contained in inmate records is available to the public according to various federal and state laws. There are a few ways of obtaining this information. The first is to query directly the facility at which the incarcerated person is held.

The second is to use the Kentucky Online Offender Lookup (KOOL) portal, maintained by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Correction.

Through this portal, there are various search options available. The basic search options are as follows:

  • Search offenders with photos only
  • Search aliases
  • Last name
  • First name
  • Middle name

More advanced search options include:

  • Offender type
  • Department of Corrections Number
  • Personal Identification Number
  • Supervision status
  • Location Type
  • Location
  • County Supervision
  • Age
  • Race
  • Crime or offense name
  • Kentucky Revised Statute Code
  • Conviction information (including the indictment, crime date, conviction date, etc.)
  • Escape or abscond date
  • Projected release dates

KOOL also contains many useful publically available statistics regarding the amount of time likely to be served for Felony Classes A through D, as well as Capital Offenses.

Victim Identification and Notification

The Victim Identification and Notification system (VINE) allows victims to be kept up to date on offender status. Data in the VINE system is backed from county jails, state-run prisons, and juvenile detention centers. Alerts are sent to subscribers whenever an incarcerated individual’s location changes, when they are released, or if they are being considered for parole.

VINE is free to join, and there is no way for offenders to know an individual has been registered. Offenders will not know if or when you have been notified about changes in their circumstances.

Driving Records of the State of Kentucky

If you hold a driver’s license in the state of Kentucky, you have a publically available history of driving record. This record identifies you, the licenses issued to you, traffic violations or convictions that pertain to you, and any conditions placed on your driving privileges.

A full record of an individual’s driving history is kept by the Division of Driver Licensing, which offers these records to the public or interested third parties. These records contain the previous three years’ worth of driving history only.

The three-year record may be obtained by any individual interested in requesting it. Identifying information, such as personal descriptions, social security numbers, or addresses, will not be contained in the report.

Full driving history is only available to the individual to whom the history pertains to unless the requester has a notarized statement allowing the third party requester access or a subpoena from a court authority.

How can I obtain my driving record online?

Your three-year driving record can be requested and emailed to you within a matter of minutes using the online DHR portal.

To access this portal, you will need to sign up for a Kentucky.gov login account. Fill out the online portal’s relevant information, pay the fee of $5.50, and the driving history record will be emailed to you.

How do I obtain my driving record in person?

You can obtain your driving history record in person by visiting one of the regional Driver Licensing offices, filling out the form, and paying a $3.00 fee.

The following is a list of the regional Driver Licensing offices in Kentucky and a link to their appointment booking portal to obtain your driving history record.

Somerset650 North Main St. Suite 240,
Somerset, 42501
606-677-4183

Bowling Green 360 E. 8th Avenue, Suite 111,
Bowling Green, 42101
Burlington 6159 1st Financial Drive,
Burlington, 41005
Catlettsburg 2900 Louisa Street Suite 2,
Catlettsburg, 41129
Columbia 363 Office Park Drive, Suite 200,
Columbia, 42728
270-290-6105
Elizabethtown 1055 North Mulberry,
Elizabethtown, 42701
270-740-5071
Frankfort 200 Mero St.,
Frankfort, 40601
502-564-1257
Jackson 1127 Main Street,
Jackson, 41339
606-824-6007
Lexington 141 Leestown Center Way, Suite 125,
Lexington, 40511
502-564-1257
Louisville – Hurstbourne 9112 Leesgate Road,
Louisville, KY 40222
Madisonville 56 Federal Street,
Madisonville, KY 42431
270-399-7417
Morehead 126 Bradley Ave.,
Morehead, KY 40351
606-691-6045
Owensboro 2620 Ky Hwy 81,
Owensboro, KY 42301
270-691-9659
Paducah 2855 Jackson Street Suite 7,
Paducah, 42001
270-575-7035
Prestonsburg 3140 South Lake Drive Suite 5,
Prestonsburg, 41653
606-263-6137
Richmond 830 Eastern Bypass, Suite A12,
Richmond, 40475
Louisville-Bowman 3545 Roger E Schupp,
Louisville, 40205

How do I obtain my driving record by mail?

The Frankfort Division of Driver Licensing can provide you with a full driving record. There is no form to fill out; instead, write a letter requesting a ‘full driving history record’ along with the following information:

  • Name
  • SSN
  • Kentucky Driver’s License Number
  • Birthdate
  • Current address

Also, include a money order or cashier’s check payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer (personal checks not accepted). Mail everything to the address below, and your driving history record will be mailed back to the address you provided.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
Division of Driver Licensing
Attn: Driver History Records / Fees Section
200 Mero Street
Frankfort, KY 40622

How do I obtain my five-year driving clearance letter?

Whereas the driving history record above is a certified three-year record, the state of Kentucky provides certified copies of five-year records. You cannot purchase this record online, and attorneys can only request this record with a subpoena or notarized consent from the person whose name appears on the record.

The procedure for obtaining the five-year record in person is the same as is listed above. Make an appointment at your local, regional driver licensing office, request the five-year record, pay the $3.00 fee with a certified cashier’s check, money order, debit, or credit card, and the record will be provided to you.

By mail, follow the same procedure listed above for the three-year records, except state in your request that you wish to obtain the five-year clearance letter. Provide the same information detailed above (name, SSN, license number, DOB, address) and the fee in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. Mail it all to the address listed above, and the record will be mailed back to you.

Vital Records and Statistics in the State of Kentucky

The OVS (Office of Vital Statistics) provides records for every person born in the commonwealth of Kentucky. The purpose of these statistics is to establish an individual’s legal identity, age, nationality, parentage, marriage status. They also document every death that occurs in the state, its cause, place, and date. These records are kept in a central repository by the Office of Vital Statistics.

In 1910, the General Assembly of Kentucky passed the Vital Statistics Law, which made it officially a legal obligation to document births and deaths. Therefore the Office of Vital Statistics does possess records before 1911, except where established after the fact by affidavits or other evidence.

Registrations of marriage and divorce began in 1958. If you are looking for marriage or divorce records before 1958, contact the county clerk in the location where the event took place to see if they can help you locate any pertinent documentation.

Certificate Purchase Options

The VitalChek Network Inc. processes all online orders. This is a third-party company that has partnered with the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics to provide vital statistics records to the public.

You can make orders by phone or fax. VitalChek makes use of UPS, and rush orders are available for an additional fee. All major credit cards may be used for payment.

VitalChek’s phone number is (800) 241-8322

VtalCheck’s fax number is (866) 283-7477

In-person applications can be made by visiting the Office of Vital Statistics’ lobby, located at 275 E. Main Street, Frankfort. There you can fill out the application for any of the vital records you require and pay your fee.

A drop box is also available where you can deposit your request. This dropbox is located in the visitor’s area of 275 E. Main Street, Frankfort.

(*due to COVID-19 restrictions walk-in’s are closed)

If you wish to make an application by mail, send the application form, as well as a check or money order made out to the Kentucky State Treasurer for the fees listed below, and a self-addressed return envelope, to the following address:

Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St., 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
Processing time varies, but usually, once an order is received, it will be processed within 5 – 7 business days. But they can take as long as 30 business days. During peak seasons, birth certificates may take significantly longer, and death certificates may be held up if medical certifiers and funeral directors are not prompt in filing the certificates.

Fees

Certified copies of birth certificates cost $10 per document.

Certified copies of divorce, marriage, death, or stillbirth certification cost $6 per document.

These fees are non-refundable because they are search fees.

Birth Certificates

Birth records are not available to the public, as per Kentucky law. They are only available to the individual listed on the record and their parents or legal guardians or the individual’s legal representatives. A court order will be required for all third parties seeking to request these documents.

If you wish to obtain a birth record from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, download a Birth Certificate Requisition Form, fill it out, and include a written request regarding the requested records. The following information must be included in the request:

  • Registrants name
  • Country of origin
  • Date of birth
  • Registrants maternal maiden name
  • Registrants paternal name
  • Requester’s name
  • Requester’s contact information
  • Relationship between requester and registrant
  • Mailing address and number of copies desired

Enclose a check or money order as laid out in the Fees section above ($10 per record request payable to Kentucky State Treasurer). Also include a scan of your government-issued ID, as well as any applicable proof-of-relationship or court orders authorizing the requester to access the record. Once all documents are assembled, mail them to the following address:

Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St. 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
You can also use the VitalChek birth certificate portal to access birth records.

Death Certificates

Unlike birth records, death records are available to any interested member of the public provided the death occurred in the state of Kentucky. You do not need to provide additional documents or proof of relationship to access these records.

To receive a copy of these documents, write to the Office of Vital Statistics detailing your request and provide information about the record. Otherwise, download the Kentucky Death Record Form, fill it out and mail it, along with the required fee and satisfied ID requirements, to the following address:

Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St. 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
You can also use the VitalChek death certificate portal to access death records from any city or township in Kentucky.

Marriage Records

The Open Records Act makes provisions for the public availability of marriage records throughout the state of Kentucky. Interested members can quickly obtain copies of these records upon request.

To request a record of marriage from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, simply make a written request detailing the identifying information of both husband and wife, which county the marriage license was issued, as well as the full date of the marriage.

You can also fill out the Marriage Certificate Application, including it along with the appropriate check or money order payment ($6 made out to the Kentucky State Treasurer), and mailed or delivered in-person to the following address:


Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St. 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
Another way to acquire publically available marriage records is through the VitalCheck marriage certificate portal.

Divorce Records

Like death and marriage records, divorce records are publically available to any requester without eligibility limits. Any interested party can request divorce records about any other citizen so long as their divorce was filed in Kentucky.

Whichever county the divorce was decreed in will hold the records of divorce at the County Clerk Office. However, statewide repositories are maintained by the VSO.

Again, there are three ways to obtain a divorce record.

The first is to make a written request containing the following information:

  • Names of divorced parties
  • Date of divorce
  • Location divorce was granted
  • Copies requested
  • Contact name/address of requester

You can also request a divorce certificate using a Divorce Certificate Application. Print out the form, fill it out, and mail it, along with a $6 check or money order payable to ‘Kentucky State Treasurer,’ to the following address.


Office of Vital Statistics
275 E. Main St. 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
Lastly, you can obtain divorce records using the VitalChek death certificate portal and fill out the relevant information.

Transparent Government Records of the State of Kentucky

Kentucky is a state that values transparent governing practices that help keep the state government accountable to its citizens and open to the public. It’s a state where there is a bipartisan belief that the public should know how their tax dollars are spent.

Kentucky thus offers a wide variety of government documentation for public inspection and makes it easy to search and inspect by any interested citizen. This information includes the following:

  • Budgets of the Executive and Judicial branches of government
  • State employee salary information
  • Taxes paid by Kentucky citizens
  • Tax spending by the state of Kentucky
  • Open records
  • Ethical procedures
  • Line item expenditure, grant, and contract information

Spending Search

Spending search makes available spending data available for both contract and non-contract accounts. The information is displayed based on the fiscal year, which begins July 1st and ends June 30th of the following year. You can also see which state agencies make use of tax dollars and which agencies rely on other forms of income for their operations.

Contract Search

Contract search allows the public to search a database of all currently open contracts the Kentucky government is involved in, as well as their procurement process. The contracts’ search details are provided by all government levels, including the judicial and executive branches and some constitutional officers. Information is updated every day.

All Contract procurements follow the Model Procurement Code of Kentucky (KRS 45A).

Salary Search

All employees of Kentucky’s three branches of government and employees of post-secondary education institutes have their salaries listed as a matter of transparency. These are not, however, official business records. The data is only displayed for informational purposes. Each salary record has a time, and date stamp attached to it and is updated twice a month.

Property Search

Property search details all properties owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It covers both leased and owned properties, including, but not limited to, offices, buildings, and land.

The information contained in this search is overseen by the Department for Facilities and Support Services of the Finance and Administration Cabinet. They are responsible for the following:

  • Capital construction programs
  • Acquisition of real property
  • Leasing and disposition services
  • Operation of state-owned properties
  • Maintenance of state-owned properties
  • Operation/maintenance of surplus property services

Business Records of the State of Kentucky

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The Secretary of State’s office is responsible for issuing and maintaining the business records of Kentucky. It is their job to issue certificates of existence and certificates of authorization and provide the public with copies of documents on file.

Certificates

A certificate gives conclusive proof of the existence of domestic corporations as well as domestic LLCs.

Certificates of authorization show that the state government authorizes foreign businesses (corporations or LLCs) to do business in the state of Kentucky.

Any interested member of the public is allowed to purchase such a certificate or authorization. They can do so by using the Business Entity Search.

Using this search portal, enter the organization’s name in the search bar and review all of the documents about that business currently on file with the Office of the Secretary of State of Kentucky.

Interested parties can also mail or fax a completed Request for Corporate Documents form along with the $10 fee to the following address or fax number:


Division of Business Filings
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602
(502) 564-5687 (fax)

Copies of Files

In addition to purchasing certificates and authorizations, the public can also obtain any publicly available file regarding the business in question held by the Secretary of State.

To do this, use the Request of Corporate Documents form and mail or fax it to the following address:


Office of the Secretary of State
Records Branch
P.O. Box 718
700 Capital Ave., Ste. 158
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-5687 (fax)
The cost is five printed pages for $5.00 and $0.50 per page after that.

You can request both certified or informational copies. Certified copies cost $10.00 (up to 5 pages) with a $0.50 fee for each additional page.

Bulk Data Service

This service, run by the Secretary of the State, enables interested individuals to download every business/UCC record currently on file in Kentucky.

These files include complete corporate and UCC databases, corporate and UCC filings, and many other documents regarding businesses.

You must have a registered Kentucky.gov account and pay the required fee for using the service ($2,000 per month for business records; $1,500 per month for UCC filings; $300 per month for UCC filing images).

These fees are required for commercial use only. Persons intending to use this information for research are not required to pay this fee.

For more details, visit the Bulk Data Service webpage.

Historical Records of the State of Kentucky

The Kentucky State Digital Archives maintains a large online portal that gives the public access to digital collections pertaining to Kentucky’s state and local governments. This project is supported by the Libraries and Archives Department.

Since these are publically available records, any interested party can print, view, or download any item from the collection, including records of all types: speeches, reports, photographs, and many more.

The Complete Archive includes a vast array of digitized public records pertaining to all aspects of Kentucky’s life, history, and government. Here are just a few of the collections featured in the archives:

If you have further questions or need assistance accessing the records archive, contact Derek Clark at the following email address: derek.clark@ky.gov