South Carolina Public Records

South Carolina’s public records law is contained in the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act is codified at South Carolina Code of Laws § 30-4. The South Carolina law broadly defines public records as “all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body” (South Carolina Code of Laws § 30-40-20(b)). The following types of information must be made available for public inspection and copying: minutes for meetings of public bodies that occurred within the past six months, certain reports, documents relating to incarceration of individuals within the last three months, and public body documents that were used or distributed in the last six months. However, while South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act seems to have broad power, the state provides a number of exemptions from coverage. Some of the information that is exempt from disclosure under the Act includes: trade secrets; personal information; law enforcement videos, audio recordings, and records; any information that would interfere with a law enforcement proceeding; any information that would interfere with the right to a fair trial; any information that would endanger someone’s life or safety; and contractual arrangements incidental to proposed sales or purchases of property during contract negotiations. Because of the way that the statute is worded, South Carolina agencies have broad discretion in determining what types of information to disclose or withhold.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in South Carolina

More About South Carolina

Although one of the country’s smaller states in terms of physical size, South Carolina is the country’s 23rd-most populous state. With a 2017 population of over 5,024,369, the state was one of the first places for European settlers to live and has played an important role in American history since well before the first Europeans came to the New World. South Carolina is part of the Southeastern region of the United States, but may also be considered part of the Deep South region, depending on how states are being classified. It is a coastal state, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and by Georgia and North Carolina. South Carolina is a popular tourist destination. Although not known for having a robust economy, unlike some nearby states, South Carolina is experiencing more than three-percent growth each year, suggesting that people are coming from other places to settle in the state. As a result, if you are looking for information on a person who lives in South Carolina, you may need to expand your background check beyond the state.


South Carolina Vital Records

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Public Health Statistics and Information Services (PHSIS) is responsible for the state’s vital records registration, correction, and certification. It handles the state’s records for births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. The State Office of the Division of Vital Records, which is located in Columbia, can handle searches for all vital records in South Carolina, but the regional and county offices can also handle many of those requests.

Birth Records

South Carolina birth records are available through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. For more information on how to request those records, you can visit the SCDHEC website, which describes four ways to request those records: online or by phone with VitalChek, by mail, drop-off, or in-person.

Death Records

South Carolina’s death records are not truly public records, as they are only available to people who qualify to receive them under the applicable laws. You can find more information on the SCDHEC death certificate webpage. At this page, you can also find out how to receive copies of death certificates online, by phone, by mail, or in-person.

Marriage Records

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has some marriage records available. They have copies of certificates from marriages from July 1950 to December 2014. For records prior to or after those dates, you can go to the Probate Court in the county in which the marriage occurred.

Divorce Records

Divorce records available through the SDHEC are not complete records of a divorce or the court records relating to a divorce. Instead, they are reports that a divorce occurred. Moreover, the SDHEC only has some divorce records; divorces prior to 1962 or after 2014 may only be available from the court that granted the divorce.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


Learn about South Carolina criminal records, SC Property Records, or read about public records in another state from the list below: