Massachusetts Public Records

The State of Massachusetts takes such pride in its public records that it publishes "A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law," a 60-page window into the state's different public records laws. The guide can be found here. It provides an overview of the law behind the public records, but it is not a practical guide. For specific records, the following notes should help those interested in ordering.

Vital Records

The Registry of Vital Records administers a database of birth, death, marriage, and divorce records for Massachusetts. There are several ways to order:

In Person - It is possible to order vital records in person, from the Registry Office. The service counter is located at 150 Mount Vernon Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 02125-2105 and is open Monday through Friday, from 8:45 - 4:45. The cost is $20.00 for each certified copy. The Registry does not offer non-certified copies.

Online - Massachusetts subscribes to VitalChek, which is a private company that provides online ordering for the vital records of a number of states. Visit VitalChek to order online. VitalChek is significantly more expensive, at $50.00 for the first copy, but it is fast and convenient.

It is also possible to order by phone, fax, or mail. For more information, visit the Registry webpage or call them at (617) 740-2600.

Court Records

The Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court of Massachusetts together maintain a website that allows search of these higher courts. The search page can be found here. For Massachusetts lower court records, it is necessary to contact the relevant court directly. The Massachusetts Court System has a list of all of the courts online.

Property and Business Records

The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts maintains business records and some property records. Several different types of business information is available for search, including corporate and limited liability company information, rejected filings, UCC information, liens, and trademarks. The main search page is here.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth also maintains the Massachusetts Land Records website. The main page links to all of the County Land Records websites. It is possible to search online for documents related to the ownership of real estate from there.

For more information, call the Secretary of State at (617) 727-7030.

Driving Records

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles makes it easy to order a copy of one's own driving record online, by mail, or in person.

Online - To order online, visit the online transactions page and find the tab labeled "Request Driving Records." Note that the service was unavailable as of this writing, perhaps only down for maintenance.

By Mail - To order by mail, send a written request that includes name, license number, date of birth, address, and a $20.00 check or money order (payable to "MassDOT") to:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Driving Records
Court Records Department
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5896

In Person - To order in person, visit any full service Registry of Motor Vehicles branch office. To search for your local office, click here. Note that True and Attested Driving Records are available only from the branch office located at 630 Washington Street or online.