The laws of the United States classify public records as public information which can be accessed by anyone. However, each state has its own rules on how and which records can be accessed by the public. This article will look at how to do a public records search in Pennsylvania.
Public records can be defined as records or documents that can be made available to anyone who seeks them. These records are normally developed and maintained by government agencies. This means they can be sourced from them. In order to do so, one must be familiar with which agency keeps what records. That is where this article comes in. With it, you will be able to find where and what public records are kept in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law which states that all government records and information is considered public records.
Individuals who are looking to access Pennsylvania public records can be able to do so for records that goes back to 1775. This is the moment when Pennsylvania began the registration of public records in the 67 counties found in the state.
These records are now accessible on government websites as well as third party websites ever since the digitization of public records was introduced more than thirty years ago. This has made access to public records simpler and faster.
Public Records can be divide into a number of categories. There are vital records (birth, marriage, divorce, death records), court records, criminal records, business records, financial records to name but a few.
Pennsylvania Vital Records
Vital records are the type of records that document important events in a person’s life. These are birth records, marriage records, divorce records, adoption records and death records. Vital records come in handy when you are looking to apply for documents such as school enrollment, passport, driver’s license, settling an estate and more.
There are numerous reasons that come to mind that may compel someone to lookup vital records information. You might need additional copies of these documents or they might be misplaced. Whatever your reason may be, the suggestions from here will take care of it.
The Bureau of Health Statistics and Registries is the one that is responsible for keeping these records in Pennsylvania. Records found from here date back to 1906. There are however, terms and conditions that come with obtaining these records from here.
Here are the contact details for the Bureau of Health Statistics and Registries in Pennsylvania:
Call Vital Records:
The birth/death certificate inquiry line is available:
Monday – Friday
7:15 am to 10:00 pm
Department of Health
Bureau of Health Statistics & Registries
Division of Vital Records
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16103
For a third party website that works closely with the Bureau of Health Statistics and Registries in Pennsylvania, you can try Vital Chek.
Pennsylvania Court Records
The Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System give access to comprehensive court records online in Pennsylvania upon request. The UJS web portal is the one that can help you search and view court case details. The web portal has appellate court case details (Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth), criminal common pleas court case details and magisterial district court case details such as civil cases, traffic cases, criminal cases, non-traffic cases and landlord/ tenant cases.
Even though the public can access court case information, it is not expected that such details be used to replace a criminal history background check. Such an activity can also be offered by the Pennsylvania State Police.
Pennsylvania Criminal Records
A criminal record will give all criminal activity or criminal history that a person has engaged in. Criminal records in Pennsylvania are maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police which also offer them on an online database called Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH). They are mostly utilized by employers who usually run background checks on potential employees in Pennsylvania.
Examples of criminal records include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations that has happened in Pennsylvania. They normally have details such as full name, date of birth, photos/ mugshot, driver license number, current and previous addresses, fingerprints, former arrest records, current and past warrants, sex offender status to name but some.
Pennsylvania criminal records are available from municipal, county and state levels.
Pennsylvania Business Records
Business records in Pennsylvania can be accessed by using the correct entity name, or entity number from the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. A Business Entity Search can be done online in Pennsylvania.
A business entity search will give a complete filing history of that particular business entity from here. Printouts of records from a search are offered at a cost.
These are some of the ways on how to do a public records search in Pennsylvania. Discussed here are some of the commonly looked up public records types with the places and methods to finding them.