Washington Public Records

The Washington Public Records Act, revised Code of Washington chpt. 42.56, is the Washington state version of the freedom of information act. It is somewhat different from other state freedom of information acts, because it was not written as a single specific law, but came from several sources and was recodified into a single act. Under the law, public records are defined as any writing containing information relating to the government, relating to government functions, or prepared or used by state or local agencies. In Washington, any person can request records, without a statement of purpose or any restriction on the use of those records. Public agencies have up to 5 days for record request responses.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in Washington

More About Washington

Washington is a state located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Named for George Washington, Washington state was part of the Washington Territory, which became part of the United States in 1846 as part of the Oregon Treaty. The 18th largest state by area, it is the 13th most-populous state, with a population of over 7.4 million people in 2017. The capital of Washington is Olympia, but its largest city is Seattle. In fact, the Seattle area is the state’s major center for business and industry. Home to many technology companies, Washington attracts residents from around the world, resulting in a constantly-changing population. When running a background check of people located in Washington, you may need to look at prior locations because a Washington-specific background check information will be limited to information from their time within the state.


Public Records in WA

It is possible to find many of Washington state’s public records online, but the state does not have a single master database for its public records. Instead, you need to contact state and local agencies directly for information. The exception to this is that Washington, like many other states, has moved many of its court filings online. These court filings are not comprehensive and do not provide the outcomes of the cases, but does provide basic case information. You may also be able to find property records, criminal records, and vital statistics online.

Property Records

In Washington, there are two local-level agencies responsible for different types of property records: The County Assessor and the County Treasurer. Between these two different local-level agencies, the result is that there are three general types of property records in Washington. These include: land records, property records, and property tax records. Land records is a generic term that can include original grants from the state. Property records refers more specifically to transactions between individuals and includes deeds, mortgages, and liens. The final type of property records are property tax records, which contain information specific to taxes including descriptions of the land, ownership information, and current tax information.

Land Records

The Washington Tax Assessors use a program called Tax Sifter, which is powered by Thomson Reuters, to allow people to search tax and land records. Using that system, one can search for land by parcel number, names, location (address), or map number. It also uses a program known as Map Sifter, which provides GPS photographs of land parcels, and is searchable by parcel, address, or owner.

Property Tax Records

Washington counties maintain their own tax records. Therefore, to find information about property taxes, one needs to look at the county where the property is located.

Deed Records

Most county deed records are kept by county-level recorders offices. The Recorders Offices may allow you to run free online searches of their records databases.


WA Vital Records

Some state libraries hold vital statistics. The Washington State Library does not, but you may find older vital statistics in the Washington State Archives. The Washington State Department of Health maintains vital records. In Washington, vital statistics include: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce records.

Birth Records

In Washington, you may get certified copies of births certificated that have occurred in the state. You do not need to provide identification to order a birth record in Washington. You can order a certificate via the United States Postal Service, or find other shipping options, at the state’s vital records information page.

Death Records

You may request deaths certificates for deaths that occured in the state of Washington. You can order a certificate at the state’s vital records information page.

Marriage Records

You can access Marriage records at the state’s vital records information page. You can get marriage records for marriages that took place in the state of Washington. You do not need to provide identification to order a vital record in Washington.

Divorce Records

In Washington, you can access divorce records for divorces that have occurred in the state. You may order a record via the United States Postal Service at the state’s vital records information page.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States


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