South Dakota Public Records

Public access to governmental information is governed by two laws in South Dakota: the South Dakota Open Meetings Law, South Dakota Codified Laws Chpt 1-25, and the South Dakota Sunshine Law, South Dakota Codified Laws Chpt 1-27. Taken together, these laws determine how members of the public can access governmental records and meetings in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Open Meetings Law requires that all official meetings must be open to the public, unless members of a political subdivision are attending a state meeting. This law includes teleconferences. Violation of the law is a class two misdemeanor. Exceptions to the law include employee performance meetings, student performance meetings, labor negotiations, and price strategy meetings by publicly-owned competitive businesses.

The South Dakota Sunshine Law specifies that the public should have access to the public records of government bodies in the state of South Dakota. It differentiates public records from private records and defines public records as those kept by public bodies in South Dakota, regardless of physical form. Anyone can request public records without providing a statement of purpose. Furthermore, there are no restrictions on how these records can be used. In fact, the state even operates OpenSD, which is a searchable website with a variety of different public document available. Some documents are still exempt under the South Dakota Sunshine Law, including: school records, adoption records, medical research information, savings and loan association reports, juvenile court records, and hospital licensing and inspection information.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in South Dakota

More About South Dakota

South Dakota is a U.S. State located in the Midwest part of the United States. It is the seventeenth largest state in terms of area, but the fifth smallest in terms of population, which makes it the 5th least densely populated state in the United States. It became a state on November 2, 1889, at the same time as North Dakota. Both states were part of the Dakota Territory. South Dakota is bordered by North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The Missouri River flows through the middle of the state.

While South Dakota’s economy has traditionally been and continues to be heavily reliant on agriculture, it is also known for having a thriving service industry sector. This includes banking, and Citibank, a huge international bank, is based in South Dakota. Therefore, for a state that is so sparsely populated, there is a surprising amount of movement. As a result, if you are looking for someone who is located in South Dakota, you may need to check other states, as well.


Public Records in SD

South Dakota is actually one of the states that operates a central website for public records. The OpenSD website offers information on: statutes and rules; boards and commissions; payroll; checkbook; contracts and grants; the state budget; financial publications; and economic development. In addition, you can locate other public records at various websites used by the state. These records include criminal records, vital statistics, and property records.

Property Records

Like other states, South Dakota has three main types of property records: tax records, deed records, and land records. Each type of record contains different information. Tax records show the record of taxes on the property. They usually include: a description of the property, including improvements; the tax rate or actual taxes on the property; whether any taxes are due on the property; and the owner of record. Land records refer to a specific type of conveyance of land from the government to private owners; because South Dakota was a territory for a long period of time, many of the conveyances will be during that territorial period. Finally, deed records show private conveyances of land between parties, as well as anything that can impact title, such as a mortgage, lien, or other encumbrance.

Land Records

The South Dakota BLM Database contains information about land grants made in South Dakota during its time as a territory controlled by the Bureau of Land Information. You can search by county where the land is located at that database.

Property Tax Records

The South Dakota Property Tax Division maintains information on property taxes, including real property taxes, in South Dakota. However, it does not have access to individual tax records. To find out information about a specific piece of property, you must contact the county where the property is located.

Deed Records

South Dakota does not maintain a central registry for deeds in the state. Instead, each county has a Register of Deeds, which is the county’s primary records office. The Register of Deeds maintains deed and encumbrance information for properties located throughout the county.


South Dakota Vital Records

The South Dakota Department of Health’s Division of Administration administers vital records for the state of South Dakota. It includes information on birth, death, marriage, and divorce records for the state. Vital records are not considered public records and people must prove eligibility in order to receive vital records.

Birth Records

In South Dakota, all vital records are ordered in the same manner, including birth records. You can order them four ways: in person, online, on the phone, or by mail. You can order them in person or by mail at the state vital records office or at any county Register of Deeds. You can order them online at www.vitalchek.com. You can order them by phone at 605- 773-4961. Certified records will only be issued to the person named on the record, the person’s spouse, the children of the person, the parents or guardians of the person, next of kin, or an authorized representative.

Death Records

In South Dakota, you order death records through vital statistics, Vital Chek, or a local branch. You may order them by mail, by phone, online, or in person. To order online visit www.vitalchek.com. To order by phone call 605-773-4961.

Marriage Records

In South Dakota, the state makes marrige records available to the people named on the record as well as a list of authorized people. If you are an authorized person, you can order them online at www.vitalchek.com, by phone at 605-773-4961, or in person or by mail at the state vital records office or county Register of Deeds offices.

Divorce Records

In South Dakota, you do not have to go to local courthouse records in order to access divorce records. Instead, they are handled by vital statistics and centrally available. You can get them in person or by mail at the state vital statistics office or any local county Register of Deeds. You can also order them by phone or online through Vital Chek by calling 605-773-4931 or visiting www.vitalchek.com.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


Learn about South Dakota criminal records or read about public records in another state from the list below: