Montana Public Records: How to Find Public Records in Montana

Montana Public Records: How to Find Public Records in Montana

One of the earliest traditions of information freedom laws is found in the state of Montana. In 1895, it passed the first legislation encouraging public access to records. 


In order to update its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws, the state established a new constitution in 1972. Although this sounds wonderful, FOIA claims in Montana are difficult to win because there are no consequences for government agencies who deny public access. Also, there is no administrative appeal. 

If you have a legal right to access particular public data, making a FOIA request is an essential starting point. In this article, we will explain how to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act and discuss some available public records in Montana, and how to access them.


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Public Records Law in Montana

Montana's Public Records Law applies to all government departments, branches, and agencies without exception.


However, the law also includes extensive exemptions, which can make it challenging to access specific information. 


For instance, private writings and records with privacy concerns, including those related to individual or public safety and trade secrets, are two of the listed exemptions under the Montana Constitution. 

It's important to note that Montana lacks any enforcement mechanism for its freedom of information laws, meaning there is no structure for appeal. 


Additionally, government officials in Montana are not required to respond to FOIA requests within a specific timeframe, making it difficult for requesters to plan accordingly.


Furthermore, delays in response are different from a denial of access under Montana case law, which can make appealing in court an uphill battle.

Requesting Access to Public Records in Montana

To gain access to Montana public records, one must submit a public records request by various means, including in-person, by mail, or online. 


The specific process for requesting records may vary depending on the agency, but generally, you will be required to submit a written request with the following information:

● Your name and contact information
● The specific type of records you need
● The purpose for which you are requesting
● Appropriate fees (where applicable)


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Most Common Public Records in Montana

These are some of the more frequently requested public records in Montana:

Montana Criminal Records

The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is the primary agency responsible for maintaining criminal records in the. 


While criminal records are generally available to the public, certain restrictions exist on who can access them. One option to search for criminal records is to use the CHOPRS – Criminal History Online Public Record Search tool. 

With this method, you can conduct an online search using the offender's full name and date of birth. 


Alternatively, individuals can also request a name-based search by mail. To do so, you'll need to provide the offender's full name, birth date, social security number, and your name and contact information. 


Once you have submitted your request, the agency will process it and provide you with any available criminal records.

Montana Vital Records

The state department in charge of keeping and issuing vital records like birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce orders is the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. 


The public can access these records; however, there can be some limitations. Birth certificates, for instance, can only be obtained by close family members. In contrast, people with property or personal connections to the deceased can only obtain death certificates.

Vital records can be obtained from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in one of two methods. To pay the necessary fees for online orders, go to VitalChek and use a credit or debit card. 


You can place an order by mail by submitting an application that has been fully completed, a copy of your ID, and the necessary fees to:

Office of Vital Records,
Department of Public Health and Human Services,
111 N Sanders Rm 6,
PO BOX 4210,
Helena MT 59604

Montana Driving Records

Driving records are issued and kept up to date in Montana by the Justice Department's Motor Vehicle Division. You can ask for a copy of your driving history, which will include details like:

● The status of your driver's license
● Your traffic offenses
● Accidents
● The points on your license

To obtain a copy of your driving history, place an online order with the Driver History Records Service


You must have a credit card to pay the $7.87 cost for each record you request. As soon as you complete the order, the results will be available.

You can place an order in person or by mail. You must do this by completing the Driving Record Request Form and sending it to the Driver History Records Bureau:

Driver History Records Bureau,
P O Box 201430,
Helena MT 59620-1430
* A fee of $4.12 must be paid for each record requested


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Montana Court Records

The Montana Supreme Court offers an online Public View Docket Search Tool that enables you to look up open or closed cases. You can conduct a search using the case's number, parties, or attorney. 


In-person records searches are available at the county courthouse where the case was heard. If applicable, you can also send a letter, fax, or email to get copies of court documents. Visit the Court Locator page on the Montana Court System website to discover courts in your neighborhood.

Using Third-Party Sites to Access Montana Public Records
In Montana, searching for records on third-party sites is an easy process. 


It would be necessary for people who want specific information on a certain subject to provide information about the person in question; the more information provided, the easier the data will be to obtain. 


In order to use the search function, the user would need to enter the person's full name and location or address. The website immediately displays all available information on the web.


Navigating Montana's public records laws can be a complex and challenging process, especially given the need for more enforcement and appeal mechanisms. 


However, third-party websites like can be your best resource for individuals seeking information in Montana. 

By providing accurate details about the person in question, It can quickly locate relevant data and make it easily accessible to users. 


Despite the challenges posed by Montana's public records laws, they can help streamline the information retrieval process and provide individuals with the necessary data.

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