Missouri Public Records

Missouri was actually one of the first states to pass any type of Sunshine Law, allowing public access to information collected during the course of government business in Missouri. Currently, Missouri actually has two laws that deal with public access to public information: the Missouri Sunshine Law for Open Meetings and the Missouri Sunshine Law.

The Missouri Sunshine Law for Open Meetings deals specifically with how public meetings are conducted. If public business is going to be discussed at a meeting, it must be open to the public. Failure to open the meetings to the public subjects the public organization to fines. The law does specifically exempt certain types of meetings including: legal actions; sealed bids; meetings discussing the purchase, sale or lease of real estate; personnel matters; matters involving the state militia; testing materials; negotiations with employees; and health examinations. The Missouri Sunshine Law for Open Meetings is codified at Mo. Code § 610.010 et seq.

Missouri’s Sunshine Law is patterned after the federal Freedom of Information Act. It provides that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of government bodies are open to the public, which takes it beyond what many states guarantee in their freedom of information acts. It defines records as “any record, whether written or electronically stored, retained by or of any public governmental body including any report, survey, memorandum, or other document or study prepared for the public governmental body by a consultant or other professional service paid for in whole or in part by public funds, including records created or maintained by private contractors under an agreement with a public governmental body or on behalf of a public governmental body.” Unlike some state laws, the Missouri Sunshine Law does not restrict who can access the records or the purpose for which it can be requested. The Missouri Sunshine Law is codified at Mo. Code § 610.023 et seq.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in Missouri

More About Missouri

Missouri is located in the Midwestern United States, a regional name that is somewhat misleading, because the state is actually located in the eastern half of the United States. It is the 18th most populous state and the 21st largest state, by area. Missouri and has a population of over six million residents. Its major cities include St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia. It is bordered by the Mississippi River in the East and includes a portion of the Ozarks in the South. Missouri’s economy is relatively diverse. Its major industries include: aerospace, transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, printing and publishing, electrical equipment, light manufacturing, financial services, and beer production. Missouri does not have the type of industry that promotes a very static population, but there is certainly movement in and out of the state. As a result, if you are running a background check on a person located in Missouri, you may need to check other places, particularly surrounding states, for complete information.

Public Records in MO

Like most states, Missouri does not have a single place for public records. However, it does have a large amount of information about public records available online. The Missouri State Archives allow you to search the state’s historic legal records, while the Missouri Court System allows you to search current records. Missouri’s vital statistics are maintained by the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records and by local county health agencies, recorders of deeds, and Circuit Court Clerks. These records include birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. Adoption records can sometimes be found at the state’s voluntary adoption information registry. Property record information is held by local offices in each county.

Property Records

In Missouri, property records are held at the local level. There are three main types of property records: land records, property tax records, and deed records, though the information in these records may overlap. You can search local interactive maps, which can be found in the local county tax assessor’s department or the county GIS department, to find information about property located within that county. These maps can provide you with information about tax valuations, whether taxes have been paid, and specifications about the property including ownership history.

Land Records

In Missouri, the term “land records” is usually used in a distinct way, to separate land records from other types of property records. It is used to refer to land grants from governments to individuals. France, Spain, and the United States all claimed ownership of land in Missouri. Therefore, there are three different types of land grants that one can search for in the Missouri State Archives. These grants would have occurred between 1790 and 1903.

Property Tax Records

In Missouri, property taxes are handled at the local level, though the Missouri Department of Revenue, which is in charge of personal taxes, process claims for property tax credits. Most Missouri counties also keep property tax records online through their tax assessor’s office. You can generally search for information about property using addresses, owner names, or parcel numbers.

Deed Records

In Missouri, the Recorder of Deeds is the county official that is responsible for recording all property records in the county. The County Recorder is responsible for a wide variety of government documents, including: deeds, mortgages, releases, liens, affidavits, wills, as well as issuing marriage licenses, and a copy and archival service.

MO Vital Records

Vital statistics is a term that refers to the public records that detail significant life events. These events include: births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. They may also include adoptions.

Birth Records

In Missouri, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services maintains birth records, though they can often be obtained locally. You simply fill out an application for a birth certificate, which you can submit by mail or in person to the local health department. You may also request them from the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records.

Death Records

In Missouri, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services maintains death records but they can also be requested from the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records. Simply fill out an application for a death certificate, which you can submit by mail or in person to the local health department.

Marriage Records

In Missouri, marriage records are maintained by the Clerk of Court in the county where the marriage occurred. You may also request them from the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records.

Divorce Records

Divorce records can be requested from the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records. The divorce records are maintained by the Clerk of Court in the county where the divorce occurred.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States

Learn about Missouri criminal records, MO Property Records, or read about public records in another state from the list below: