Maryland Public Records

Every Maryland resident has the right to view, obtain, and examine certain documents and records pertaining to the state’s functions, its public bodies, and its citizens. These documents are known as public records, and specific laws guarantee public access to this information.

The Maryland Public Information Act specifies that unless the information meets certain exemption criteria, all government information is presumed to be publically accessible. This includes but is not limited to vital records, court documents, criminal records, minutes of public meetings, certain correspondences between departments, and some driving and genealogical records of its citizens.

In 1865 Maryland began the process of collecting public records for all 23 of its counties. Recently, digitization of these records has granted the public, third-party public records organizations, and the government itself ease of access to this information that it did not previously have.

Because of this availability, residents of Maryland are provided with more governmental transparency than ever before.

Maryland Public Information Act

At the heart of any democratic government should be the public’s right to access information about the various activities and involvements of that government. In the state of Maryland, the PIA (Public Information Act) gives the people of that state a comprehensive and broad set of rights to access public records.

The PIA enshrines these democratic rights while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of private individuals and protecting government interests that have a legitimate need to be kept confidential.

View the Final Report on the Implementation of the Public Information Act for more details on what the act specifically contains.

View Chapter 135 of the Laws of Maryland to see exemptions and other helpful information, such as reporting provisions, on the maintenance and dissemination of public records in Maryland.

New PIA provisions came into effect on October 1st, 2015. This included the creation of a Public Access Ombudsman within the Office of the Attorney General. Read a summary of these new PIA provisions for more information.

The Attorney General’s office also offers a comprehensive resource to guide the public and government officials alike in meeting the responsibilities laid out in the PIA. Read the 15th Edition of the Maryland Public Information Act Manual for a comprehensive overview of Maryland’s public access rights and procedures.

How do I access public records in the state of Maryland?

Generally, a request for public records will begin with the government agency in control of those records, whether at the county, state, or municipal level. Depending on what the individual is looking for will determine which agency you should reach out to because several different offices and government entities play a role in accessing public information.

View a frequently updated list of PIA representatives from each state, county, and municipal public body. Members of the public can contact these representatives of the PIA to submit requests for public records from each of these governmental units.

Public Access Ombudsman

The role of the Public Access Ombudsman is to act as a mediator in disputes regarding the PIA. If a requester and the custodian of the record in question are unable to resolve any issue that comes up in the record accessing process, the Ombudsman becomes involved.

The Public Access Ombudsman themselves does not accept any PIA requests but simply resolves issues that come up about pending requests for public access to information.

2015 saw the creation of this office via State Law, and they operate independently of the Office of the Attorney General. However, the Attorney General appoints the Ombudsman and provides them with staff and office space.

You can learn more about Maryland’s Public Access Ombudsman by visiting their webpage.

Public Information Act Compliance Board

This board is an independent entity appointed by the Governor of the state of Maryland. This board’s sole purpose is to hear complaints involving the improper and unreasonable imposition of fees in relation to PIA requests. They do not resolve any other issue.

You can learn more about Maryland’s PIA Compliance Board, as well as view their virtual meetings and read their reports on the PIA Compliance Board webpage.

Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General

Legal advice is provided to all public bodies and state agencies about their PIA responsibilities by the Attorney General’s Office. They are also responsible for the PIA Manual that outlines the way the law applies to certain requests.

The Office of the Attorney General has its own PIA representative, from whom you can make public access requests about the publicly available information about that office and its dealings. Make these requests by contacting the following individual:


Barbara Bond
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202410-576-6405
bbond@oag.state.md.us

Access Criminal Records Information in Maryland

A variety of criminal records are available in Maryland’s State Archives from all 23 of its counties and the City of Baltimore and the Courts of Appeal. The processes and conditions for accessing these records are similar but different depending on the time period, the court, and the jurisdiction in which the record is currently held.

Individual Background Check

To receive your background check, you will first need to have your fingerprints taken. Both private and public providers offer fingerprinting services. You can view a list of the locations of these providers on the Fingerprinting Services webpage. The fee for fingerprinting services can be viewed in the fee table below.

There are two forms available to receive your background check, depending on the reason for the application.

If you require a background check for a private employer, you must complete the Application to Receive State of Maryland Criminal History Record Information for Private Party Petitioners form.

If you require a background check for agencies that provide adult dependent care, child care, public housing, government employment, government licensing, or criminal justice, fill out the Application to Receive Criminal History Record Information for Employment or Licensing Purposes form.

Fees

All fees need to be paid by check or credit card. Cash or money orders are not accepted.

State and FBI full background check (only for authorized agencies) $31.25
State and FBI full background check (only for child care volunteers) $29.25
Maryland Mentor $15.00 w/ certification card
State only background check $18.00
State only background check w/ Gold Seal $19.00
Criminal Justice full background check Free
State only Criminal Justice Free
Civil Attorney/Client $18.00
Pending criminal case Attorney/Client Free
Fingerprint service fee $20.00

Accessing Maryland Inmate records

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services maintains an inmate locator. This locator allows members of the public to learn the correctional institute existing offenders are housed in.

These offenders will be in the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections. They will be housed either at a Division of Correction facility, Patuxent Institution, or at a Division of Pretrial and Detention Services facility.

The Inmate Locator does not allow access to information on every individual remanded in custody by the Department of Public and Safety and Correctional Services. Additionally, the Inmate Locator may not provide information on individuals serving short sentences or who are no longer in custody (this includes release and escaped convicts).

The inmate locator provides the following information:

  • SID number
  • DOC ID number
  • Last, First, Middle Names
  • Date of Birth
  • Holding Facility
  • Holding Facility contact information

To use the inmate locator, click the following link.

Accessing Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry

The Maryland Sex Offender Registry can be used to find publically available information on individuals charged with criminal sexual behavior. Using the registry search allows members of the public to find registered sex offenders who live and work in Maryland. You can also sign up to be notified of their movements.

The information contained in this registry is provided and maintained by the Maryland Department of Public Safety as well as Correctional Services. Neither department can guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by the search.

To view Frequently Asked Questions about searching the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, click here.

To register to receive notifications by phone call, email, or text, or to check on incarcerated persons’ custody status in Maryland, explore the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) website.

To receive phone/email alerts whenever a convicted sex offender moves into your area of work or residence, explore the AlertXpress website.

To register to receive phone/email alerts whenever a convicted sex offender relocates within five or .25 miles of your home, explore the Crimewatch website.

Accessing Court Records Information in Maryland

In this section, we will talk about two ways you can access court records in the state of Maryland.

The first section will show you have to access records through the Maryland Judiciary. These records are recent court records held at the courthouse the trial took place in. Summaries of these records can be found in the Maryland Case Search, linked to below.

The second section details how to find archived records of a historical nature. These records are maintained by the State Archives, some of which may be found at the County Clerk’s Office.

Access to Court Records Through Maryland Judiciary

Court records include documents, information, exhibits, and other items maintained by the courts connected to cases that appear before them.

In general, court records are open to the public with a few exceptions that require a special provision of the law or court order. These exceptions include the following

  • Adoption records
  • Termination of parental rights records
  • Records of juvenile delinquency
  • Records of CINA (Child In Need of Assistance) records
  • Kinds of Marriage license information
  • Mental health evaluations
  • Tax returns
  • Financial statements filed in conjunction with spousal/child support cases
  • Physicians reports regarding the medical condition of disabled adults
  • Guardian reports filed about the property of disabled adults

Some court record information can be found on the Maryland Case Search web portal.

How can I access court records?

Paper copies of court records are maintained by the courthouse at which the case was heard. With the few exceptions listed above, any citizen can access these records in person by visiting the clerk’s office.

If you wish to view these records, simply give the clerk the case number for the record you want to view. In instances where the case number is unknown, the clerk will assist you by providing the names of the individuals involved.

Copies of the documents in the file are available for a fee.

A director of all the courthouses in Maryland can be found here.

Can I access Maryland court records electronically?

There are certain records from the courts that can be electronically accessed.

Maryland Case Search: This is the primary way to search for publicly available court case records. Case search provides a summary of the information contained in the case file. It gives a general overview of the case, its case number, the dates, and case type. You can view the official case file in the clerk’s office as detailed above.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Maryland Judiciary Case Search are answered here.

Maryland Electronic Courts(MDEC): If you are a party to a court case, you can use MDEC to electronically file and view documents pertaining to your case. Lawyers typically use this, but members of the public may be granted MDEC access subject to certain criteria and rules. Certain courts will have a kiosk at which the public can view court records.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Maryland Electronic Courts are answered here.

Estate Search: If an individual has passed away and you wish to look up publicly available information about their estate, this online tool will allow you to do so. You can view more details on the public access of estate information through the Register of Wills webpage.

Land Records: Crete a free account at mdlandrec.net to view publically available land records about real property. Land records are public in every Maryland County, including Baltimore City. They are managed by the Department of Land records located within that Country’s Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Land Records are answered here.

Archived Records of Maryland’s District Courts

Maryland’s current District Court’s were established in 1971. Before that, every county had several courthouses at a lower level, and each of these lower courts had its own methods for records maintenance and creation. In 1971 these courts were eliminated, and their records came to the Maryland State Archives.

However, some of the records are still maintained by the district or circuit court that initially held them.

Click on each county name to view the district court records available in the Maryland State archives. You will see upon clicking that there are three columns for each entry listed.

The leftmost column lists the county’s name, district, subdistrict, abbreviation, and designator used by the court case numbering system.

The center column lists the records available for that district court. For example, citations, criminal dockets, docket books, natural resource dockets, and special proceedings dockets.

The rightmost column indicates the indices possessed for this series of records.

Below you will find a list of county names. Each link will take you to a list of records for that county’s district courts maintained by the State Archive.

Contact the individual district courts if you wish to find out more information about accessing these records.

Archived Records of Maryland’s Circuit Courts

Established in 1851, Maryland’s circuit court system is archived similarly to the district courts. The left column displays that county name, the central column displaying the State Archives’ records, and the right listing any available indices.

Contact the individual Circuit Courts if you wish to find out more information about accessing these records.

Below you will find a list of county names. Each link will take you to a list of records for that county’s circuit courts maintained by the State Archive.

Accessing Maryland Vital Records

In this section, we will cover how to access vital records in the state of Maryland.

Vital records pertain to vital events such as birth, death, parentage, adoption, stillbirth, marriage, or divorce. In the state of Maryland, not all vital records are open to the public. Only certain qualified individuals can receive vital records, and evidence of eligibility will need to be provided before receiving them.

Birth Certificates

Birth certificates are certified copies of an individual’s birth record. These records are often used for various uses such as legal purposes, school enrollments, social services, passports, retirement, and travel. Certified copies are printed on special security paper and are stamped with the state seal.

The following individuals may apply for certified copies of birth certificates:

  • Individuals who are requesting copies of their own birth certificates.
  • Parents whose names appear on the birth certificate.
  • Guardians of the person named on the certificate appointed by the courts (excluding foster care appointments); proof of guardianship is required.
  • The surviving spouse of the person whose name appears on the certificate.
  • Legal representatives of the person or parent whose name appears on the certificate*.
  • The legal representative of the court-appointed guardian of the person whose name appears on the certificate*.

*The above representatives are required to have a signed letter issued by the guardian, parent, or individual named on the certificate. That letter must be certified by a notary, and it must state that the representative is permitted to obtain the certificate.

Ordering Birth Certificates Online

The state of Maryland has partnered with VitalChek Network, Inc. for all online orders of birth certificates. This independent company charges additional fees for the use of this service. These fees are paid by credit card.

Visit the VitalChek website to place your online order. The first copy costs $10.00. All additional copies cost $10.00.

Ordering Birth Certificates by Mail

Download one of the following forms to fill out:

Presuming you meet eligibility the criteria discussed above, fill out the relevant form, include payment (see the fee section below), a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and a photocopy of your government-issued ID. Mail everything to the following address:


Division of Vital Records
PO Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036

Death Certificates

Death certificates are certified copies of an individual’s death record. Generally, these certificates are used to acquire death benefits, insurance proceeds claims, notification to social security, or other legal uses.

Borth the Maryland Department of Health and the Division of Vital Records issue certified death certificates for persons who died in the state after 1969.Deaths that occurred before 1969 may be in the Maryland State Archives.

The following individuals are eligible to apply for a death certificate:

  • The surviving relative of the deceased or their authorized representative
  • Funeral directors in charge of the disposition of the deceased’s body; these individuals can click on this link for information about ordering.

Ordering Death Certificates Online

The state of Maryland has partnered with VitalChek Network, Inc. for all online orders of death certificates. This independent company charges additional fees for the use of this service. These fees are paid by credit card.

Visit the VitalChek website to place your online order. The first copy costs $10.00. All additional copies cost $12.00.

Ordering Death Certificates by Mail

Download one of the following forms to fill out:

Presuming you meet eligibility the criteria discussed above, fill out the relevant form, include payment (see the fee section below), a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and a photocopy of your government-issued ID. Mail everything to the following address:


Division of Vital Records
PO Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036
If a funeral facility is requesting the death certificate, they can make an application via mail or through the funeral facility request portal.

Marriage Certificates

Marriage certificates are certified copies of a certificate of marriage. Marriage certificates are generally accepted as proof of marriage for legal purposes. This is a separate document from the marriage license.

Borth the Maryland Department of Health and the Division of Vital Records issue certified marriage certificates for persons who wed in the state after 2007. Marriages that occurred before 2007 may be in the Maryland State Archives, or you can contact the Maryland county circuit court where the marriage took place.

The following individuals may apply for a certified copy of a marriage certificate:

  • The individuals (spouses) named on the record
  • Legal representatives of either individual spouse named on the record*.
  • Attorneys who represent either spouse named on the record*.

*Legal representatives must present proof in the form of a letter that states that they have permission to acquire a copy of the certificate. This letter must be signed by one of the spouses as well as be certified by a notary. Attorneys must present proof they are representing either of the spouses.

Ordering Marriage Certificates Online

The state of Maryland has partnered with VitalChek Network, Inc. for all online orders of marriage certificates. This independent company charges additional fees for the use of this service. These fees are paid by credit card.

Visit the VitalChek website to place your online order. The first copy costs $12.00. All additional copies cost $12.00.

Ordering Marriage Certificates by Mail

Download one of the following forms to fill out:

Presuming you meet eligibility the criteria discussed above, fill out the relevant form, include payment (see the fee section below), a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and a photocopy of your government-issued ID. Mail everything to the following address:


Division of Vital Records
PO Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036

Divorce Records/Verification

This record is separate from a divorce decree and is instead a divorce verification that verifies annulments or divorces that take place in the state of Maryland. These records include the type of divorce, the date of the decree, the county where the divorce was granted, and the names of the persons who divorced.

To acquire a copy of the actual Decree of Divorce and Annulment of Marriage, contact the circuit court that granted the divorce.

Both the Maryland Department of Health and the Division of Vital Records issue verifications of divorces and annulments for persons who divorced in the state after 1992. Divorces or annulments that occurred before 1992 may be in the Maryland State Archives, or you can contact the Maryland county circuit court where the divorce was granted.

The following individuals may apply for a certified copy of a divorce/annulment verification:

  • Either of the spouses whose names appear on the record.
  • Legal representatives of either spouse whose names appear on the record*.
  • Attorneys who represent either of the spouses*.

*Legal representatives must present proof in the form of a letter that states that they have permission to acquire a copy of the certificate. This letter must be signed by one of the spouses as well as be certified by a notary. Attorneys must present proof they are representing either of the spouses.

Ordering Divorce Verification Online

The state of Maryland has partnered with VitalChek Network, Inc. for all online orders of divorce verification. This independent company charges additional fees for the use of this service. These fees are paid by credit card.

Visit the VitalChek website to place your online order. The first copy costs $12.00. All additional copies cost $12.00.

Ordering Divorce Verification by Mail

Download one of the following forms to fill out:

Presuming you meet eligibility the criteria discussed above, fill out the relevant form, include payment (see the fee section below), a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and a photocopy of your government-issued ID. Mail everything to the following address:


Division of Vital Records
PO Box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036

Ordering Fees of Vital Records

For mail-order, acceptable payment forms include a check or certified money order with the Division of Vital Records listed as the payee. Major credit cards are accepted for online orders through VitalChek.

Type of CertificateFee for Mail OrdersExpedited Shipping for Internet OrdersBirth Certificate$10.00$18.50

Death Certificate $10.00 $18.50
Divorce Verification $12.00 $18.50
Marriage $12.00 $18.50

To check up on the status of your order click here.

Access Maryland Business Records and Filings

Maryland’s Business Express web portal offers a robust collection of publically available data related to businesses registered to operate in the state of Maryland.

To use this search, type in the business name or department ID number of the business in question. This will bring up a list of the companies that match your search description, their department ID number, official business name, and status (active, forfeit, or dissolved).

Click on the desired business name, and you can view a variety of information. General information includes the following:

  • Department ID Number
  • Business Name
  • Principal Office Address (physical office location of the business)
  • Resident Agent Address (the resident agents address, different from mailing or principal office address)
  • Status
  • Good Standing
  • Business Type
  • Business Code
  • Date of Formation/Date of Registration
  • State of Formation
  • Stock Status
  • Close Status

Under filing history, you can view documentation associated with the business, such as articles of incorporation and forfeiture documents. If there is any commentary related to these documents, such as reasons for forfeiture, they will appear here.

Under Annual Report and Personal Property, you view a list of annual reports filed with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The public also can order certified copies of any of the documents listed under the filing history.

Certificates of Status cost $20.00 each. Certified Copies of filing history documents cost $20.00, plus $1.00 per page for each additional page. All items incur an expedited fee of $20.00.

All items can be viewed and printed as PDFs via email, or they can be mailed to the address of your choosing. The Department of Assessment and Taxation will determine how these documents will be sent for items that cannot be sent via email.

Accessing Maryland’s State Archives

The State Archives of Maryland contains the central repository of all records of permanent value for the state government. Its mission is to acquire, care, and disseminate private and public records related to Maryland’s history from its settlement in 1634 till today.

The state archives search room is located at 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, 21401.

You can fill out a registration form prior to your visit, confirming your familiarity with the search room rules and the rules surrounding the use of documents.

You can also contact the helpdesk if you have any questions at the following email address:

msa.helpdesk@maryland.gov

The Guide to Government Records is a searchable aid that will help members of the public find whatever record they are looking for.

The State Archives divides the records in three ways, by record type, agency, or series. The series describes records created by either state, country, or municipal agencies. After this, there are many ways to refine your search.

For most records, you can place an order online, and the staff at the State Archive will help you fill it. Fees do apply, and payments are accepted by Visa or Mastercard.

What follows is a list of documentation that can be ordered from the archive. Use the above Guide to Government Records to narrow your search and find the appropriate record identification information before ordering. Any questions can be emailed directly to the helpdesk listed above.

  • Appellate Opinion
  • Birth Certificate
  • Certificate of Survey
  • Child Custody Document
  • Civil Disposition
  • Court Case
  • Criminal Disposition or Docket
  • Death Certificate
  • Deed/Land Record
  • Digital Copy of Microfilm
  • Divorce Decree
  • Estate/Probate Record
  • Immigration Record
  • Land Patent
  • Marriage
  • Maryland State Papers Record
  • Muster Roll Record
  • Name Change Decree
  • National Guard Service Record
  • Newspaper Article
  • Oath of Fidelity Record
  • Plat
  • Property Tax Assessment
  • Religious Record
  • Separation Agreement
  • Slavery Record
  • Special Collections Document
Background Hawk - Team

Background Hawk - Team

Leave a Reply