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DC Public Records

The District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act was signed into law in 1976 and modeled after the federal FOIA. It designates which government records should be available to the public. In D.C., a public record can be genealogical, historical, legal, administrative, fiscal, or related to engineering and architecture.

There are nine categories of records that are exempted from public access. Among those: Records related to law-enforcement activities; records subject to legal privileges such as the attorney-client and work-product privileges; records required to be withheld by other laws; and records that fall under personal privacy.

This page provides resources in DC.  Most are free databases; a few are fee-based.  You’ll see two menu options on the side to find databases based on Category, and license databases.

  • Court System - The District of Columbia court system has two levels: The Superior Court; and the Court of Appeals. The Superior Court is the general jurisdiction trial court that handles all civil, criminal, family, domestic violence, probate, tax, landlord-tenant, small claims, traffic, mediation, and juvenile probation cases. The Court of Appeals reviews the decisions of the Superior Court and the administrative agencies of the D.C. government.  District of Columbia Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Misdemeanor, felony, and serious traffic cases are handled by the Criminal Division of the Superior Court.  To see what options are available for database searches, go to our District of Columbia Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records – Birth and death certificates are provided by: Vital Records Department, 825 North Capitol Street NE, 1st Floor, Room 1312, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 442-9303, Fax: (202) 783-0136.  Go to our Vital Records page to find historical D.C. births & christenings; the Social Security Death Index for District of Columbia, historical deaths & burials, and unsolved murders in D.C. from 1951 to the present; historical marriages in D.C. from 1830 to 1921; and divorce records.

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