West Virginia Public Records

West Virginia has two Freedom of Information laws: the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act, W.Va. Code § 6-9A-1 et seq., and the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, W.Va. Code § 29B-1-1 et seq. The West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act governs public meetings. Public meetings include any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body and are open to the public. Exempt meetings include: judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, on-site inspections, single party caucuses, and meetings that are just to discuss scheduling or rescheduling. In addition, some meetings are closed by statute including: medical information, meetings on riots, personnel meetings, disciplinary meetings, and the suspension or expulsion of a student. Violations of the law subject offenders to fines of up to $500 for a first offense. The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act determines access to public records. It defines public records as any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business, which is prepared, owned, or retained by a public party. In West Virginia, anyone can request public records without providing a statement of purposes. The government body has five business days to respond to a records request. The type of records that are exempt include: trade secrets, some exam data, information that would violate personal privacy, some archaeological sites, and law enforcement records that are maintained for internal use.

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Public & Vital Records for Counties in West Virginia

More About West Virginia

West Virginia may only have the 38th largest state population, but given that it is only the 41st largest state, it is much more densely populated than some of the other less-populated states. West Virginia is located in the eastern part of the United States in the Appalachian Mountains. It is considered a part of the Mid-Atlantic States. A landlocked state, it is bordered by Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The capital of West Virginia is Charleston. West Virginia has a unique history; it was one of only two states to be admitted to the United States during the Civil War and it formed by separating from a state that joined the Confederacy. West Virginia’s economy has traditionally been dependent upon coal and logging, which makes it one of the nation’s most financially vulnerable states. West Virginia’s population may not be in constant flux, but there is enough movement in and out of the state that you should check in other states, as well, when running a background check on someone in West Virginia.

Public Records in WV

West Virginia has a number of locations to find public records in the state, but it does not maintain a central public record registry. To find public records in West Virginia, you need to know what type of record you need and you may need the information about the county in which property is located or an event occurred.

Property Records

West Virginia does not have a single central repository for its land records. In fact, because it separated from Virginia after Virginia had statehood, some of its older land records are not actually West Virginia land records. Therefore, it is important to know what type of property record you need to find: land records, deed records, and property tax records.

Land Records

The term land record could refer to any property record, but is usually used to refer to the record of the original grant of the land from the government body to a private individual. Most West Virginia land grants were actually made when West Virginia was part of Virginia. That means that you can find those records in multiple locations. You can find them in the county where the land was originally held, at the Library of Virginia’s West Virginia Records Page, and the West Virginia State Archives.

Deed Records

In West Virginia, there is no state database for deed records. Deed records refer to records of private conveyances between individuals. These conveyances may be titles/deeds, mortgages, liens, or other encumbrances on property. To find them, you need to go to the county recorder of the county where the land is located.

Property Tax Records

West Virginia’s State Property Tax department has information on tax rates and various assessments throughout the state. It also contains a list of county assessor offices. The county assessor maintains records that show the amount of tax due on a property, whether taxes have been paid, the property owner, and a description of the property.

WV Vital Records

The West Virginia Health Statistics Center, a department of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for maintaining vital statistics in West Virginia. Birth, marriage, death, fetal deaths, and deaths resulting in stillbirths are considered vital statistics in West Virginia.

Birth Records

To get a certified copy of a birth record in West Virginia, you must be an immediate family member, spouse, grandparent or grandchild, or someone who has a legal interest in the certificate. You can get birth records in person, by mail, on the phone, or on the internet. You can get a certificate of birth that certifies a stillbirth, however the people who can request those records are limited to the parents of the stillborn baby. The father cannot request the record unless he is named on the birth certificate.

Death Records

West Virginia is not an open record state. To get a death record in West Virginia, you must be an immediate family member, a grandparent or grandchild, a person with a legal interest in the death certificate, or a funeral director. Death records are available in person, online, by phone, and by mail.

Marriage Records

In West Virginia, only the bride, groom, their children, or their grandchildren can request marriage records. They can order them by mail, in person, online, or on the phone.

Divorce Records

West Virginia does not consider divorce records to be vital statistics and does not maintain a divorce record registry. To obtain divorce records, you will need to seek them from the county courthouse in the county where the divorce was granted.

Learn About Criminal Records in Other States

Learn about West Virginia criminal records, WV Property Records, or read about public records in another state from the list below: