Michigan Public Records: How to Find Public Records in Michigan

Michigan Public Records: How to Find Public Records in Michigan

If you want to request public records in Michigan, it's essential to know the state's laws and procedures. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows citizens the right to access records kept by agencies, departments, bureaus, and more. However, navigating the process of requesting records can take time, as you need to identify the department with the records and follow specific guidelines. In this article, we'll walk you through the various types of public records available in Michigan, from court documents to property records.

Michigan Public Records Law

Michigan's approach to public records is broad and covers many legislative offices, although some individual members are exempt. Apart from state-funded universities, private entities operating with public funding are also subject to the law. 


Michigan defines "record" more widely than other states, including written documents, recordings, and computer programs. Non-Michigan citizens are eligible to access public records, except for currently incarcerated individuals. 


Michigan's Freedom of Information Act does not specify a time frame for responding to records requests other than "promptly" and within a week.  


File Stack, file folder close up for background

What Means Can You Use to Find Michigan Public Records

Michigan public records aren't available in a statewide online database. Many regional governmental organizations do, however, continue to update their online public record databases. 


To find out if a specific government agency has an online database, you have to get in touch with the agency. Depending on the agency, people can obtain public records by phone, mail, or in person.
Types of Public Records Available in Michigan and How to Access Them

We will briefly review some common records with internal links to access the records:

Michigan Criminal Records

Criminal records are kept on file by Michigan State Police. You can look them up by name or fingerprint through the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT). You can obtain Michigan criminal records through additional channels as well.

These channels consist of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), independent businesses, as well as regional and local courts and police forces.

Michigan Vital Records

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services entrusts the issuance of birth, death, and marriage certificates to the Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics. Obtaining these vital records can be done through different methods. If you prefer the convenience of the internet, you can request certificates via the VitalChek website. 

On the other hand, if you opt for a traditional way, you can fill out an application form available on the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services website, attach a copy of your valid photo ID, pay the appropriate fees, and send them through the mail. If you prefer to do it in person, you can schedule an appointment for a certificate request:

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services,
Vital Records Request,
P.O. Box 30721,
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone number: (517) 335-8666

Michigan Court Records

Users can run a name-based search of court records using the search tool for Michigan courts on the Michigan court system's website. If you need access to the records for a case filed in a district or circuit court, you must go to the nearby court and make the request.

Some Michigan court addresses include:

Wayne Third County Circuit Court
2 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI

Michigan Court Of Appeals - Second District
201 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 800, Troy, MI

Kent County Circuit Court
180 Ottawa Ave., NW, Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Property and Asset Records

The Register of Deeds for each county is responsible for keeping property records. On the Michigan State website, you can look up the phone number and address of the county’s Register of Deeds office. You can search for property records online by going to the county's Register of Deeds website in the area where the property is situated. 


a woman looking for a record

Michigan Driving Records

The Michigan Secretary of State oversees the issuance and upkeep of driving records, which can be obtained using any of the following methods:

1. Online through the Michigan Secretary of State's website, you must create an account and log in to request your driving record.

2. By filling out an application form and mailing it along with the appropriate fees and a photocopy of your valid photo ID to the address provided on the form.

3. By scheduling an appointment and visiting any Secretary of State office in person to request your driving record, where you will need to bring a photocopy of your valid photo ID and pay the fee.

Records That are Non-Public in Michigan

Despite the fact that the Michigan FOIA permits the disclosure of the majority of public records, some types of information cannot be disclosed due to a number of exemptions. These exclusions include:

● Certain medical records
● Documents that would violate an individual's privacy rights
● Trade secrets
● Law enforcement records
● Certain student records
● Substance abuse treatment records
● Juvenile records
● Personnel records
● Pending litigation records


a hand taking out files out of a cabinet drawer

Tips on Finding Public Records in Michigan

1. Determine the type of record you need: The requested record typically depends on the information the requester needs. Vital, court, and criminal records are just a few categories in which public records can be categorized.

2. Determine the government agency with the records: To obtain a public record, requesters must address their requests to the appropriate state department. Suppose a requester wants to find records about marriages, divorces, births, and deaths in the state of Michigan, for example. In that case, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is the appropriate public body.

3. Determine the accessibility of the record: Although public records are generally accessible to all citizens in Michigan, certain records may be restricted if they fall under the FOIA-exempted list.

4. Find out if the record is available: Access to certain public records may be limited online due to sensitive information, so requesters may need to visit the respective public body's office in person to obtain those records.

5. Try to contact the Record holder: To initiate a request for public records, requesters can reach out to the record holder by submitting a written request. When crafting the request, it's essential to provide enough information to help the record holder locate the requested records.


Accessing and obtaining public records is a drag when you think about the number of departments and agencies responsible for maintaining each record. Knowing how to request public records helps but only partially eliminates the process. With Truepeoplesearch.io, a third-party website that provides tools to search for public records online, you can access any record you want online. 

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