There are a variety of agencies in Tennessee that are responsible for maintaining and providing access to public records. If you know the type of information you are looking for it will help you identify where to go to get the data you’re interested in. For example, vital information and statistics are managed by one agency while property assessments are maintained by another. Some documents can be ordered online while others will require a visit to an official state office in person.
Most commonly requested public records typically turn up in the state capital
Official records pertaining to births, deaths, marriages and divorces that occurred anywhere in Tennessee on or after January 1, 1949 are maintained by the State Health Dept. Vital Records Office in Nashville. It is vital to note that applicable statutory provisions designate two very different categories of Volunteer State public records that are denoted as “certified” and “non-certified.” As the two terms respectively imply, certified public record access is restricted to registrant(s) and their immediate family or legal representatives, while non-certified copies are freely accessible by any desiring party or parties. Despite that critical distinction, non-certified copies are typically obtainable with very little trouble, as most data contained in certified versions are public records.
Although all public records requests are processed by Nashville Vital Records Offices, prospective applicants have several options to submit requests that include:
To submit your request in person, visit the Nashville Vital Records Office physical address listed below the next section. You must complete a standardized request form obtained from the front counter or downloaded at the link provided below. After completing the form, you must present valid ID that matches a registrant, immediate family member or legal representative named in the original document requested. Absent proof of such a relationship, you must provide documentation of legally entitled access to a certified copy of the requested document. Otherwise, you are legally authorized to access a non-certified copy only.
In any event, you must prepay a nominal fee to process your request, which will probably be done while you wait. Accepted payment methods are cash, money order, personal check or debit/credit card. Should you choose to use a debit or credit card, you must submit an electronic request via a kiosk located inside the Vital Records Office and pay an additional small vendor-imposed fee. All kiosk orders auto-validate the applicant’s identity. However, if you fail the automated ID verification, you must present valid ID at the front counter after your request has been transmitted for processing. Finally, be advised that if a three-year search fails to produce any results, the prepaid processing fee is non-refundable.
Mail-ordered public records requests must include all items listed below:
- Completed standardized request form with the applicant’s signature
- Photocopy of a current government-issued ID that clearly depicts the applicant’s picture and signature
- Personal check or money order for the full processing fee made payable to “Tennessee Vital Records”
Standardized request forms are available online.
Submit in-person or mail-ordered requests at:
Tennessee Office of Vital Records
1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243
Contact Vital Records Offices via telephone at (615) 741-1763 or (855) 809-0072
Business hours for walk in visits are:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST
Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST (except legal holidays)
Online ordering option
Although State Vital Records Offices currently don’t accept online orders directly, a viable indirect solution is readily available via an independent vendor called VitalChek. Check out the fastest ways to expedite delivery of your desired public record(s) by visiting their website.
Likeliest hiding places of Tennessee public records dating back longer than 50 years
State Vital Records Office databases are totally devoid of Tennessee public records dated prior to January 1, 1949. Thus, you must seek such genealogical gems elsewhere. Fortunately, very reliable backup storage media reside deep inside Tennessee Library and Archives (TSLA) vaults in Nashville. TSLA’s humongous databases hoard public records dating back several centuries. For a nominal prepaid fee, TSLA research librarians will gladly perform whatever customized public records search (es) may suit your needs.
Good places to get the goods on unclaimed property
Unclaimed Tennessee property is maintained by the State Treasury Department (TSTD). Each year, various commercial and other entities transfer tons of assets to TSTD solely because that rightful private owners’ last known primary residence is located in Tennessee. Such valuable possessions include assorted collections of dormant bank accounts, checks, stock certificates and bonds that belong to people whose present whereabouts are unknown. TSTD maintains an unclaimed property database searchable by the owner’s surname or business name.
How to search for Volunteer State Driving Records in high gear
The State Dept. of Safety & Homeland Security has sole delegated responsibility to maintain Tennessee motorists’ driving histories. Such historical documents are officially dubbed ‘Motor Vehicle Records’ (MVRs) and date back up to 3 years’ prior. MVRs may be obtained at any local DMV office or driver service station or online via the State of Tennessee’s official website.
All online MVR orders require the subject motorist’s basic identifying data and a valid debit/credit card. To obtain someone else’s driving history, you must have their prior written notarized consent or a “legally authorized purpose” limited to employment, government business or investigative reasons. To download an official Tennessee MVR request form and learn more details, visit the link provided above.