View Massachusetts Public Record Databases (Free How-To Guide) 

Free Massachusetts Records Page Search
Access Massachusetts Records: warrants, divorce and marriage, arrests, driver's license, and all public records.

When searching for criminal records, vital records, or Massachusetts public record databases, knowing where to start is half the battle, and this free how-to guide outlines where to view records, how to access them, and what fees if any, are included.

Records Page is an all-inclusive resource for individuals seeking public information or state records including court documents, birth certificates, and other vital records. Our free how-to guides make public information searches easier and more accessible,  assisting users in looking up someone’s criminal record quickly.

Employment, housing, and access to certain benefits can depend on public records checks, so it is vital to understand how to view Massachusetts public record databases. 

Massachusetts Public Record Repositories & State Laws

Federal Records Requests

Federal records originating in Massachusetts can be requested by submitting a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to the appropriate federal agency or through the FOIA website.1 For example, requests for tax documents from the Springfield, Massachusetts office of the Internal Revenue Service would require a FOIA request submitted to that specific agency location.

Massachusetts Fair Information Practices Act (FIPA)

Under Massachusetts Fair Information Practices Act, the Office of the Attorney General (AGO) may disseminate personal data/public information under these conditions:

  1. The subject of the data/information provides written permission/consent.
  2. As ordered during legal proceedings.
  3. To aid in investigations by other local, state, or federal agencies.
  4. To resolve/settle cases in which the AGO is a party, as a gesture of good faith.
  5.  Disclosure for statistical purposes. In these cases, the anonymity of the individual is maintained.
  6. The person that originally provided the information can access the data.
  7. When ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.2

Making a FIPA Request

Requests for data must be submitted in writing along with supporting documentation when required. Fees are assessed based on the number of records requested.


There are exclusions to public data requests.2 These include:

  1. Certain records are not considered public information such as police reports, grand jury minutes, testimony, physical evidence/exhibits in cases, juvenile court records, or other trial materials.
  2. Intelligence information that may be in criminal investigation files.
  3. Financial data could compromise the integrity of accounts.


Under Massachusetts law, public records include any books, papers, documents, maps, photographs, data, or other materials, regardless of whether it is a hardcopy or electronic version, that is created or presented to any government officer or agent. These are subject to disclosure unless one of the following exceptions applies:

  1. Disclosure is specifically exempt as outlined in state law.
  2. If government functions necessitate withholding the information.
  3. Data or medical history that could cause undue invasion of privacy to the person in the record.
  4. Inter- and intra-agency memoranda can be excluded from disclosure.
  5. Personal notes of employees unrelated to work duties.
  6. Materials in active investigations that disclosure could compromise.
  7. Commercial data/trade secrets that are protected by copyright laws.
  8. Sealed bids cannot be disclosed until the set time to open and review bids.
  9. Property appraisals cannot be disclosed before certain conditions are met.
  10. Data on individuals who submit a license application to purchase/possess firearms.2

Records Access Officer

Massachusetts law requires each agency or municipality to designate a minimum of one person to act as a records access officer (RAO).3 This person is charged with processing all requests for public records in their area of responsibility and responding appropriately to said requests.

Regarding background checks, Massachusetts law prohibits excluding individuals from employment or housing based on criminal history unless it would create a public safety risk. For example, employers cannot ask if candidates have criminal records except under special circumstances such as daycare employment where individuals will be working with children.

While employers may be prohibited from asking potential employees to disclose criminal history, they can still run a criminal background check once consent is obtained by the applicant.2 Failure to provide consent will prevent the background check from being performed but could result in excluding the candidate for consideration for the position at hand.

Information on court records (including dockets), inmate searches, and vital records is detailed later in this guide. There are a number of websites that provide free records searches; however, free sites may sometimes contain outdated or incomplete records.

Paid search can generate more data, but it is still important to know where to go to get public information. Whether it is court documents, vital records, or housing information, knowing which RAO to contact saves time, money, and resources.

Massachusetts Criminal Records at a Glance

Court records, such as dockets, are accessible online through the Massachusetts State Government Trial Court Electronic Access website. This website can also be used to gain access to vital records maintained by the Registry of Vital Records including birth, marriage, and death certificates in addition to land court records.

Source: Mass.gov13

Massachusetts law allows two types of public criminal records searches: name-based or fingerprint search, typically referred to as a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) search.

Each search can yield information about the individual that can be useful when determining employment or housing in certain circumstances (for example, sex offenders can be denied housing within close proximity to schools or other prohibited locations).

The amount of information differs based on the type of search conducted. Unless they are sealed court records (such as juvenile records) all court records are public. A CORI search is the official way to find out if someone has a criminal record.

Name Based CORI

As its title implies, a name-based search uses the individual’s first and last name to see if any matches are returned on a criminal record check. The information contained in the name-based search depends on the level and nature of the inquiry. For example, in certain highly limited circumstances, a CORI search will return juvenile criminal records; however, for most inquiries, juvenile records are not accessible.

When juvenile records are released in a CORI search, it is to select court officers, not the general public. For public records standard access, CORI name searches will return information such as convictions for murder, sex offenses, misdemeanors convictions entered less than five years prior to the CORI request, and felony convictions entered less than 10 years prior to the CORI request, and any pending offenses.4

Fingerprint Based CORI

A fingerprint-based CORI is used for certain professions that require a more intensive background check. These professions include but are not limited to social workers, K-12 educators, childcare workers, and certain healthcare providers. This background check includes the following information:

  1. results for all adult convictions in Massachusetts or another state
  2. all in and out of state non-convictions (charges that were dismissed or returned not guilty verdicts in court)
  3. if a person has pending criminal charges
  4. all federal convictions including immigration and deportation proceedings.444

Both types of CORI can help potential employers make staffing decisions that will protect the public interest.

Can Any Citizen View Massachusetts Criminal Records?

Anyone can file a CORI request in Massachusetts. Persons with a Massachusetts driver’s license or state-issued identification can use the online portal to access the CORI request form. Personal CORI requests require payment of a $25 fee, and open access requests carry a $50 fee. For those who do not possess a Massachusetts driver’s license or state-issued identification, requests must be submitted by mail to the address below.

The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts Executive Office Of Public Safety & Security – Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150

Request forms can be obtained online from the Massachusetts Official Government website. When mailed, they must be accompanied by a money order or bank-issued cashier’s check for the appropriate amount.444

How to Dig Up Someone’s Criminal Records in Massachusetts

There are several ways to locate someone’s criminal record in Massachusetts. Details on performing searches for specific types of criminal records will be discussed in more detail below; however, this section provides an overview of criminal record searches.

Source: MassCourts.org14

Certain records can be accessed at any courthouse public terminal, county register of deeds office, or online with supported browsers.

Currently, the Massachusetts system works with the following browsers:

  1. Internet Explorer v 7 or higher
  2. Firefox
  3. Chrome.

Through the Massachusetts Trial Court website, individuals can access public records from the following:

  1. Boston Municipal Court,
  2. District Court,
  3. Housing Court,
  4. Land Court Department
  5. Probate and Family Court,
  6. Superior Court records.
  7. Criminal Record checks can also be made at any clerk of court’s office using the public terminals provided.

Pending case information/dockets can be accessed online at the Massachusetts Trial Court website or at the local courthouse as well. Most clerks of court offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The clerk of court’s office is usually located in the county seat for each county, and larger municipalities such as Boston may have more than one clerk of court location depending on the district. A list of courthouses in Massachusetts can be found on the Massachusetts Government Official Website, courthouses by county page.

For items related to real estate or property, Land Court public record requests can be made Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm except for state and federal holidays in person at the following address:

Massachusetts Land Court
3 Pemberton Square,
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02108,5

Where Can I View Massachusetts Mugshots Online?

When searching for mugshots, the state and local law enforcement departments do not provide a link to mugshots; however, it is possible to use third-party websites.

When searching mugshots online, it is important to note that individuals pictured may or may not have been convicted of a crime at that time. Mugshots are sometimes taken when a suspect is taken into custody and a hearing has not yet established legal responsibility.

Can Everyone See Juveniles Records in Massachusetts?

Juvenile records are sealed and can only be accessed by select individuals under strict circumstances. Juvenile cases can only be disclosed pursuant to standing order I-84 of the Massachusetts code.6

Where Can I Look to See if I Have a Warrant for Free in Massachusetts?

Most courts do not make arrest warrants public information because it can present a flight risk by the alleged offender. Victims of crime can go to the local law enforcement office or clerk of court’s office to see if a warrant has been issued against the alleged offender in their case.

Source: Suffolk County Government15

Attorneys can also inquire at the clerk of court’s office regarding the issuance of arrest warrants. Third-party websites may also provide this information for a fee. If there is a warrant out, most individuals will not be notified unless and until they are taken into custody.

How to Access Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry

There are two ways to search for registered sex offenders in Massachusetts: the state sex offender registry website and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Registry established by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry

To search for a registered sex offender on the Massachusetts sex offender registry, follow the steps outlined here.

  1. Open the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board public access website.
  2. Accept the terms and conditions.
  3. Verify you are not a robot and click Proceed.
  4. Offender searches can be based on the offender’s first and last name, all offenders within a certain city/town/zip code, or all offenders in a geographic location.

National Sex Offender Registry

Individuals can also search for Massachusetts registered sex offenders from the national registry by doing the following steps.

  1. Open the Department of Justice’s national sex offender registry website.
  2. Enter the name or location of the sex offender.
  3. Select Search
  4. Confirm you are not a robot to complete the search.
Source: United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website16

Note: Name searches can return multiple hits if the person has a common name (or a name common for a specific geographic area). Some registries require photographs of offenders on the registry; however, there may be individuals listed without an accompanying photo or photos may be outdated.

Also, listing on the registry does not necessarily mean the offender is still at the location listed at the time of the search or in compliance.

How Can I Run a Background Check on Someone in Massachusetts?

Background checks in Massachusetts are run through the CORI system that was outlined earlier. To recap, consent by the prospective employee must be given before the employer can request a background check.

Background checks can be completed online at the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services website. There is a $25 fee for personal requests and a $50 fee for open access requests.

Fees for CORI checks are:

  1. Personal Requests are $25
  2. Open Access Requests are $50

Additionally, online requests can only be made by persons with a Massachusetts driver’s license or state-issued ID. Individuals who do not possess a Massachusetts license or ID must download, print, and mail in the request accompanied by money order to a bank-certified check in the appropriate amount. Forms can be mailed to

The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts Executive Office Of Public Safety & Security – Department of Criminal Justice Information Service
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150
TEL: 617-660-4640 | TTY: 617-660-46064

Massachusetts Court Records & Innerworkings

According to the Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records, Rule 1, a court record includes any dockets, exhibits, court papers, documents, orders, recordings, or other documents/records that were introduced in a trial. This does not include administrative records which pertain to the management of the court process itself.7

Court records may be paper (hard) copies or electronic records. All court records are maintained by the clerk of court’s office in the jurisdiction/district the matter was filed and adjudicated. The clerk is responsible for providing public access to those records or proceedings to which the public is entitled.

Where & How Can I Obtain Court Records in Massachusetts?

The common method of obtaining court records in Massachusetts is by requesting the record at the public service counter of the clerk of court’s office in the jurisdiction the hearing was conducted.

The clerk of court’s office also provides a public access kiosk where individuals can do a computer-generated search for court records.

Massachusetts also allows access via the internet through either the public access portal for the general public or the attorney portal for members of the bar. Records can be searched through the Massachusetts Trial Court Electronic Case Access website. An online directory of courthouses in Massachusetts can be found on the Massachusetts Government Website, Courthouses by County.

Records that have been expunged are permanently destroyed and are no longer available to the public or any local, state, or federal agency.

How to Look Up Bankruptcies in Massachusetts

Transcripts on file with the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts can be accessed online through the PACER service center or the clerk of court’s office where the bankruptcy was filed/adjudicated.

The bankruptcy court website for the District of Massachusetts showing bankruptcy records across the state can be searched there.
Source: District of Massachusetts | United States Bankruptcy Court17

There are three offices of the US Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts: Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. The table below outlines who to contact for transcript requests in each location.8

City Hearings (Conducted on or After date…) Judge POC Phone Number
Boston 4 January 1993 Bailey Lisa (617)-748-5346
Boston 4 January 1993 Bostwick Brianna (617)-748-5326
Worcester N/A Katz Laura (413)-785-6911
Worcester N/A Panos Al (508)-770-8932
Springfield N/A Katz Laura (413)-785-6911

PACER charges a $30 fee to search a name or case number for the bankruptcy record. If a hard/paper copy is requested, the fee is $0.50 per page. Parties and attorneys in cases receive one free copy of the court record. Judicial opinions in bankruptcy matters are available at no charge.9

To access PACER services, individuals or agencies must open an account on the website.

All About Massachusetts Inmate Records

Massachusetts corrections records are a six-part folder that documents important information about the individual in custody. These records can be used to perform a prison background check. This information includes the following:

  1. Sentencing information
  2.  Legal information and Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) number
  3. Prisoner classification
  4. Official correspondence
  5. Any disciplinary action against the inmate, and
  6. Inmate’s activities (such as educational or rehabilitative activities).10

This information is used by the parole board when determining inmate release dates and conditions of early release. It also is helpful when inmates are transferred from one facility to another. Activities listed in the folder can also be useful for inmates upon release because it documents educational achievements and vocational training.

Can I Find Out If Someone Was Arrested in Massachusetts?

City and county jails house individuals awaiting trial or serving short-term sentences (typically one year or less), while inmates serving longer sentences are housed within the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC).

Most city/county jails do not have an online search portal for inmates. Below is a table listing the county jails that host Massachusetts arrest records.

These jails can be contacted directly to inquire about inmates.

Facility Name Location Phone Number
Barnstable County Correctional Facility Bourne 508-563-4300
Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction Pittsfield 413-443-7220
Bristol County House of Correction and Jail North Dartmouth 508.995.6400, extension 2535
Dukes County Jail and House of Correction Edgartown 508-627-5173
Essex County Correctional Facility Middleton 978-750-1900
Franklin County Jail and House of Correction Greenfield 413-774-4014
Hampden County Jail and House of Correction Ludlow 413-858-0000
Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction Northampton 413-584-5911
Middlesex Jail and House of Correction Billerica 978-667-1711
Nantucket County Jail Nantucket 508-228-7263/508-228-7264
Nashua Street Jail (Suffolk County) Boston 617-635-1100
Norfolk County Correctional Center Dedham 781-329-3705
Plymouth County Correctional Facility Plymouth 508-830-6200
South Bay House of Correction (Suffolk County) Boston 617-635-1000
Worcester County Jail and House of Correction West Boylston 508-854-1800

For a more in depth look at how county arrest records can be accessed, take a look at our resource on how to locate all public records in Middlesex County, Massachusetts as this will detail the agencies that hosts all types of public information–like inmates, warrants, criminal records, court documents, land ownership, marital records, and more–on anyone in the county along with the process to obtain each.

Massachusetts partners with VINELink regarding inmate searches for persons incarcerated in the state’s prison system. Requests for inmate records, which differ from searching for an inmate’s current incarceration location, can be made to the Massachusetts Department of Corrections RAO online, via telephone, or by mail.

Massachusetts partners with VINELink regarding inmate searches; however, only MDOC and Essex County participate in VINELink. To search for MDOC or Essex county inmates, go to  VINElink network,

Using VINELink

To search for a Massachusetts prison inmate using VINElink, complete the steps here. This information is helpful regarding visiting inmates or sending money to an incarcerated individual.

  1. Open VINElink in your browser.
  2. Select Massachusetts in the drop-down menu.
  3. Acknowledge the warnings that pop up regarding quickly exiting the website.
  4. In the left-hand corner, complete the fields for the inmate search.
  5. Enter either the offender’s name or CJIS number.
  6. Confirm the person searching is not a robot.
  7. Click on the search button.
  8. If the person is incarcerated in Massachusetts, it will appear on the screen. If the person is not in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections or Essex County jail, a message will appear that no results were found.

Information on Massachusetts Vital Records

Background checks are not only reserved for criminal records checks. At times, individuals may need to access other vital records in Massachusetts. Vital records include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates and can be requested from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.

Are Vital Records Open Records or Private?

Records regarding births, deaths, divorce, and marriage are considered public records and can be accessed by anyone.

An image showing the map of Massachusetts with divorce rates data (5-year estimates in 2021) information provided to each county.
Source: The Census Bureau

Birth, death, and marriage certificates can be accessed through the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Divorce records can be obtained by the parties to the action (or their attorneys) from the Probate and Family Court where the hearing was held in person or via mail.

These public divorce records are accessed individually, but general information is also reported to the US Census Bureau and the image below shows the estimated percentage of divorce individuals in every Massachusetts county.

Divorce Record Fees are:

  1. Fees of $20 for the certificate of absolute divorce
  2. $20 for a copy of the first-page judgment of divorce nisi (certified)
  3. $1 per page for the additional pages of the judgment of divorce nisi (certified).

Public divorce records, and copies of the divorce certificate or divorce decree, can be obtained from the courthouse where the Probate and Family court hearing occurred.11

Learn How to Submit for Replacement Vital Records for Free

When vital records get lost and need to be replaced, requests for a certified copy of a replacement record can be made to the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics.

The registry of vital records and statistics in Massachusetts where marriage, divorce, death and birth records can be obtained.
Source: Mass.gov18

Requests can be submitted online, over the phone, in person, or through the mail. Before contacting the Registry, gather the following information:

  1. Name of subject/subjects
  2. Date of the event (birth, marriage, or death)
  3. Where the event occurred (hospital, venue, address)
  4. Proof of identification of the person making the request (government-issued ID or driver’s license). Note: an expired driver’s license or ID is acceptable.
  5. Have the fee or means to pay the fee ready. Fees for copies of vital records are as follows:
    • $51 for the first copy when ordered by phone or online.
    • $42 for each additional copy ordered online or over the phone.
    • $32 for each copy requested via mail.
    • $20 for requests made in person.12

This free guide provides a comprehensive overview of Massachusetts public record databases and provides steps and links necessary to search criminal records, locate inmates, search the sex offender registry, or request vital documents such as birth, marriage, or death certificates. 


1(n.d.). – Freedom of Information Act. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

2Office of Attorney General Maura Healey. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

3Galvin, W. F. (2022, February 1). A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

4CORI Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

5Land Court MassCourts Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

6Juvenile Court Standing Order 1-84: Juvenile Court case records and reports. (1984, May 8). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

7Trial Court Rule XIV: Uniform Rules on Public Access to Court Records. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

8Obtain Case Documents | District of Massachusetts | United States Bankruptcy Court. (n.d.). Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

9Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule | United States Courts. (2019, December 31). United States Courts |. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

10Wikipedia. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

11Get a copy of your divorce record. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <>

12Order a birth, marriage, or death certificate. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2022, from <> Accessed 6 May 2023. <> Accessed 6 May 2023. <>

15Suffolk County Government. Accessed 6 May 2023. <>

16United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website. Accessed 6 May 2023. <>

17District of Massachusetts | United States Bankruptcy Court. Accessed 6 May 2023. <> Accessed 6 May 2023. <>