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South Carolina Public Records

The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, found in Title 30, Chapter 4 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, says it must be possible for citizens to learn of the activities of their public officials and obtain public documents. It defines public records as papers, books, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentation retained by a public entity.

Exceptions listed in the Act include income tax returns, medical records, hospital medical staff reports, scholastic records, adoption records, records of library users, and data relating to public security plans & devices.

Organized below are the most useful of the South Carolina statewide public record resources.  You can also find county and city level records by clicking on the menu tools at left, along with professional and business licenses.

  • Court System - The South Carolina court system has four levels. First are Magistrate and Summary Courts (civil to $7,500, misdemeanors); Municipal Courts (misdemeanors, ordinance & traffic violations); and Probate Court (estates, guardianships, mental & substance abuse commitments). Second are the Family Courts (domestic & juvenile cases), Circuit Courts (common pleas civil, general sessions criminal felony & misdemeanor); and Master-in-Equity Courts (equity matters referred by Circuit Court). Third is the Court of Appeals, which handles appeals from the lower courts. At the top level is the Supreme Court, which reviews decisions from the Court of Appeals by choice, and direct appeals from lower courts by law (death penalty, public utility rates, challenges to statutes & ordinances, elections).  South Carolina Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Ordinance & traffic violations are the responsibility of Municipal Courts. Magistrate/Summary Courts, Municipal Courts, or Circuit Courts may handle misdemeanors. Felony cases are heard in the Circuit Courts only.  For information about how to order official background checks and to access online databases, go to our South Carolina Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records - Birth, death, marriage & divorce certificates are provided by: South Carolina Office of Vital Records, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29201, (803) 898-3630, Fax: (803) 898-3761.  Visit our Vital Records page for easy access to the Social Security Death Index for South Carolina, historical statewide death indexes, death records, cemetery indexes & obituaries from available counties; marriages from available counties; and divorce court record databases from available counties. Unfortunately, we have not discovered any online databases providing birth records in the state.

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