Rhode Island Public Records

Like many states, Rhode Island has two acts that govern access to public information: the Rhode Island Open Meetings Act and the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act. Working together, these acts provide Rhode Islanders with a high level of access to public records.

The Rhode Island Open Meetings Act, which is located in Rhode Island General Laws §§ 42-46-1, legislates how public meetings are conducted, including defining a public meeting and decreeing a default rule of open access to public meetings. Meetings that may be exempt under the law include: student records, student disciplinary hearings, litigation, security, real estate transactions, school committees, collective bargaining, and some personnel matters.

The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act, Rhode Island General Laws §§ 38-2-1, covers access to public records held, created by, or maintained by government bodies in Rhode Island. It has an expansive view of what is a considered a public record, with a presumption in favor of disclosure and very few exemptions. While anyone can request public records and is not required to provide a statement of purpose for the records, it is illegal to use that information to solicit for commercial purposes or to obtain a commercial advantage over the party furnishing that information to the public body.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in Rhode Island

More About Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States. Located on the Eastern Seaboard, the state is the second most densely populated, but, because of its small size, is still only the 43rd most populous state. The official name of Rhode Island is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Providence is the state’s capital and its most populated city.

Rhode Island’s economy was once heavily dependent on the fishing industry. In modern Rhode Island, its biggest industries are health services, tourism, and manufacturing.

RI Vital Records

The Rhode Island Department of Health is responsible for maintaining vital statistics for the state. Vital statistics refer to events that give information about a state’s population and includes things like deaths, births, and marriages. Rhode Island partners with VitalChek to allow people to access these records online.

Birth Records

You may request a birth record for yourself, a relative, or a person for whom you have a legal interest. You can order them online or by phone through VitalChek, which offers 24/7 service. The cost is $35 per order, with additional fees for rush orders. You can use debit cards, credit cards, and checks to use VitalChek. You can also go in person to the Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH) Center for Vital Records or any city or town clerk's office. The cost is less expensive in person, starting at $22 for the first copy and $18 for each extra copy purchased the same day. Searching for a record is free is you go in person. You can pay with cash, check, or money order in person. You can also order by mail, which is $25 for the first copy and $18 for each extra copy. Mail-in orders can be paid by check or money order

Death Records

To obtain a copy of a death certificate, you must be related to the person you are requesting the certificate for or a legal representative. You can request death certificates for parents, siblings, guardians, or authorized agents. You can order in person or by mail through the Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH). You may also order online or by phone through VitalChek.

Marriage Records

Marriage certificates are considered private, not public, records. Therefore, you must be related to the person you are requesting the certificate for or a legal representative and provide a reason for your request. You can order them online or on the phone through VitalChek, or by mail or in person from the Rhode Island Department of Health's (RIDOH).

Divorce Records

In Rhode Island, divorce records are not part of vital statistics. To obtain divorce records, you need to get them from the clerk of the court in which the divorce was granted.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States

Learn about Rhode Island criminal records, RI Property Records, or read about public records in another state from the list below: