Minnesota Public Records
Minnesota’s freedom of information act is known as the Minnesota Data Practices Act. It is actually a series of acts or laws, which are meant to ensure that the public has access to public records made or maintained by government bodies in the state of Minnesota. Under these laws, which are codified in Minn. Statutes §13.01 et seq., public records are defined as all data that has been collected, received, created, maintained, or disseminated by any government entity in Minnesota. The format of the data is irrelevant, as is its storage media, physical form, and conditions of use.
In Minnesota, anyone can make a public records request. In addition, Minnesota even requires that those who have requested public records are entitled to have the information contained therein explained to them if they do not understand the data. This goes well beyond what many states and the Federal government offer in their public information acts. There are some restrictions on the information; while those requesting information do not have to provide a statement of purpose, but if the intended use is a commercial use, then the government agency is allowed to charge an additional fee for the information. In addition, some public information is exempt, specifically juvenile court records and some of the personnel information that the state has collected.
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Public & Vital Records for Counties in Minnesota
More About Minnesota
Minnesota is the 12th largest state by area, but the 22nd most populated state. Most of Minnesota’s residents live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, an area that is also known as the Twin Cities. Minnesota is located in the Great Lakes region of the United States and is also considered part of the Northern United States. It is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Minnesota’s Twin Cities region is home to a number of industries including: transportation, business, education, government, arts, and industry. Outside of the Twin Cities region, Minnesota’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, mining, forestry, and recreation. Minnesota’s agriculture and tourism lead to a seasonally fluctuating population. As a result, if you need to run a background check on someone located in Minnesota, you may need to provide additional information for prior locations.
Public Records in MN
Minnesota does not have one location for public records. Instead, public records are maintained and accessible through the branch of the state government responsible for creating or maintaining the record. The type of records generally considered public records in Minnesota include property records and vital statistics, though, technically, any government record that is not specifically exempted by law is actually a public record.
There are generally three types of property records that people search for when attempting to find out additional information about a piece of property, its ownership, or its tax status. These records are known as land records, property tax records, and deed records. Land records usually refer to records of land transmitted by a government entity to its original private owners. Property tax records refer to legal descriptions of property as well as available tax information related to that parcel. Finally, deed records refer to any records, other than tax records, impacting ownership or disposition of land.
The State of Minnesota’s IT Department’s Geospatial Information Department maintains land ownership records. These records primarily focus on property boundaries. They include property boundary basemaps and ownership records. These records are generally maintained at the county level and may be held by the county recorder, county assessor, or county land surveyor. You may be able to access these records in digital format, but some counties only have some records available in paper format.
Property Tax Records
The Library of the University of Minnesota maintains links to locations for property tax information located throughout the state. You can click on these links to be taken to the county property tax office, where you can access property tax information for parcels located wholly or partially within the selected county.
Minnesota does not make a distinction between land records and deed records. For a central repository of some of the state’s deed records, you can access the State of Minnesota’s IT Department’s Geospatial Information Department’s land ownership records. As they are connected to the Geospatial Information Department, the primary focus of these records is on boundaries, but they also include information from ownership records and on current ownership. If you cannot find the records you need at this website, you may be able to find them in a local office in the county in which the property is held. Various offices that maintain deed records in Minnesota include county level recorder, assessor, and property surveyor offices.
MN Vital Records
Vital statistics is a catch-all term that refers to the public records that detail significant life events. Different states define different life events as vital statistics, but the most commonly recognized vital statistics include births, deaths, marriages, and divorces.
Minnesota’s Office of Vital Statistics, a division of the Minnesota Department of Health, maintains birth records for the state. Its electronic system has birth records from 1900 to the present. Older birth certificates may be found in the county where the birth took place. You may request birth records directly from the Office of Vital Statistics, but you must meet the statutory requirements to obtain certified copies of a birth certificate.
In Minnesota, death records are maintained by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics. This office maintains death records that have been recorded since 1908; older deaths were registered at county-level offices. You may request death records, but they are a quasi-private form of public record and getting a certified death certificate can only be done if you meet statutory requirements.
To find a marriage certificate in Minnesota, you must go to the county that issued the marriage license. However, Minnesota maintains an online Minnesota Official Marriage System (MOMS), which is a database of marriage certificates; anyone can use MOMS to look up marriage records.
In Minnesota, divorce records are available through the county district court that issued the divorce.
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MN State Agency Websites
- Attorney General
- Birth Records
- Business Entity Records
- Campaign Finance
- Crash Reports
- Criminal Records
- Death Records
- Driving Records
- Election Related Records
- GED and HiSET Records
- Incarceration Records
- Legislation and Statutes
- Sales Tax Registration
- Sexual Offender Registry
- State Archives
- State Judicial System
- UCC Records
- Vehicle Records
- Watercraft Records
- Workers Compensation