Unlike some states that restrict access to public data to residents alone, Nebraska allows any U.S. citizen to access its documents. You can obtain Nebraska public documents, irrespective of where you reside, whether in Lincoln, Omaha, New York City, or Miami.
While access to public records in Nebraska is not restricted, locating and obtaining records can be difficult. Because records are stored by many departments of government and state entities, determining where to begin looking can take time and effort.
In this article, we will shed some light on the common public records in Nebraska and how to access them. We will also mention some exemptions to the public records law.
Examples of Available Public Records in Nebraska
The types of Nebraska public records that are available will differ depending on the agency. However, some of the most often requested records are the following:
Nebraska Vital Records
All vital records for the State of Nebraska are kept by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates can be ordered through the Division of Public Health Vital Records in person, by mail, or online.
When requesting a vital record, you must give the following information:
● Full name of the individual on the certificate
● The date of the event
● Your relationship with the individual on the certificate
● The county or city where the event occurred
The application type and the number of copies ordered determine the cost of the certificate.
Nebraska Criminal Records
The Nebraska Records of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP), the state's major repository for criminal history data, is kept up to date by the state patrol. The RAP sheet contains details about Nebraska arrests and legal actions.
Since it only retrieves data from those who have had their fingerprints taken, the search is restricted.
You must register an account, pay a $15.50 fee, and provide the following details about the person you are looking for to acquire a copy of their RAP sheet:
● First name
● Last name
● Date of birth
Nebraska Court Records
You can utilize the online court case search tool the Nebraska Judicial Branch provides to look up juvenile, criminal, traffic, probate, and civil cases.
You will be charged $15 for every case file you search for. You must go to the district court clerk where the matter was initially filed to obtain copies in person. The clerk will give you a price list, and before the copies are released, you must pay the requisite charge.
Nebraska Property Records
Although Nebraska doesn't have a statewide property records database, fear not. Most counties offer an online search tool to help you locate the records you seek.
If you're looking for property records, you'll need to have either the address or parcel ID at hand. Once you've got that, head over to the county assessor's office website, where you can conduct your search for the records you're after.
In addition, some counties have also made available GIS maps that make it even easier to locate property records. These maps allow you to search for records based on the property address, owner's name, or parcel ID.
Here are examples of some of the most common counties in Nebraska with their assessor's Office website:
Nebraska Driving Records
In Nebraska, keeping driving records is the responsibility of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can visit the DMV in person to order your driving record.
You must send your Application for a Copy of Your Driving Record and the necessary cost to the address listed on the form. The cost to obtain a driving record history is $7.50. Your driving history will provide details like your:
● Date of birth
● Driver's license number
● Driving history
You can also access your driving record more easily by requesting it online with your name, birthdate, driver's license number, or social security number. Each online request will be subject to a $7.50 fee.
Public Records Exemptions in Nebraska
According to the Nebraska Public Records Act, some public records may be withheld from public access. These records may be designated as confidential and kept private unless they have previously been made public in some other way.
The release of any record is at the sole discretion of its rightful custodian because the public records legislation establishes exceptions rather than exemptions.
The law permits a custodian to keep the following type of records out of public hands:
1. Any business secrets, scientific research, or unpublished academic work. This includes confidential and business-related information that would benefit rival companies but serves no public interest.
2. Records or information prepared by an attorney and the public entity concerned for labor negotiations, litigation, or claims made by or against the body. All private communications and documents protected by attorney-client privilege are also included in this.
3. Personal financial information, such as social security numbers and credit card details provided by citizens to state and local governments.
4. All information gathered during an application or licensing process that government agencies use at any level to make decisions about purchasing, owning, using, or registering firearms. But this information must be made available upon request from federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement officials.
5. Library records that could reveal the identity of patrons using publicly funded library services.
6. Information that would jeopardize public safety and property if it weren't kept private and only concerned with the safety and protection of public property and the individuals who use it.
7. Records related to the appraisal, purchase, or sale of real estate or personal property by public bodies are to remain confidential until the transaction is completed.
Public Records in Nebraska: Appeals for Rejected Requests
Nebraska does not offer an administrative appeal option for requests for public records. The district court with jurisdiction over the request may be used for legal action. You can alert the agency's leader or file a complaint with the attorney general if a request is denied.