Tennessee Background Checks and Public Records

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State of Tennessee 

Tennessee, also known as the Volunteer State, may be the 16th largest state by population, but it’s just the 36th largest state in area. Nashville is its capital and second-largest city. The State of Tennessee is situated in the southeastern region of the United States. 

Around 80% of the state’s land is used for agricultural purposes, including forestry. Aside from agriculture, other major industries are manufacturing and tourism. The state’s economy is relatively strong, and the unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Hence, if you need to conduct background checks or acquire public records, be sure to also check other states especially the neighboring or bordering ones. 

Counties in Tennessee 

AndersonDecaturHendersonMaurySequatchie
BedfordDeKalbHenryMcMinnSevier
BentonDicksonHickmanMcNairyShelby
BledsoeDyerHoustonMeigsSmith
BlountFayetteHumphreysMonroeStewart
BradleyFentressJacksonMontgomerySullivan
CampbellFranklinJeffersonMooreSumner
CannonGibsonJohnsonMorganTipton
CarrollGilesKnoxObionTrousdale
CarterGraingerLakeOvertonUnicoi
CheathamGreeneLauderdalePerryUnion
ChesterGrundyLawrencePickettVan Buren
ClaiborneHamblenLewisPolkWarren
ClayHamiltonLincolnPutnamWashington
CockeHancockLoudonRheaWayne
CoffeeHardemanMaconRoaneWeakley
CrockettHardinMadisonRobertsonWhite
CumberlandHawkinsMarionRutherfordWilliamson
DavidsonHaywoodMarshallScottWilson

Where To Get Public Records In Tennessee 

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Open Records Counsel oversees the implementation of the Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Act. This agency is assigned to addressing public record-related inquiries and disputes. 

Records are kept and managed by different agencies depending on the nature of the information. Then, each department assigns their respective records custodian.

If you’re looking for vital records, for instance, get in touch with the Tennessee Office of Vital Records. They hold documentation of one’s important life events including birth, marriage, divorce, and death. Note that only persons named on the certificate, legal authorities, and present or former spouses are allowed to acquire such records.

For criminal records, contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. They cross-check reports held by the state’s 14 prisons. You could get access to a person’s personal information, physical description, fingerprints, and complete criminal history records.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections Felony Offender Information is responsible for all inmate records. They could provide you copies of an inmate’s personal information, mugshots, active sentences, parole eligibility, and more.

Property records can also be accessed by the general public. The Tennessee Secretary of State manages all land and deed records while the Comptroller of the Treasury’s Real Estate Assessment Data handles all property tax records.

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records in Tennessee 

The Tennessee Public Records Act, along with other state laws, mandates and governs public information and records searches. Such laws state what information is considered public, which agencies should store the data, and policies on how to access these records. 

Tennessee is one of the few states that require one to be a citizen to access state public records. This is why most agencies require the requester’s state photo ID showing their current address. 

There are over 500 exemptions, including medical and juvenile records, trade secrets, expungements, and voter information. These, and the state’s citizenship requirement, are the main reasons for rejection or disapproval of requests. In Tennessee, there’s no appeals process should your request get denied, but you could file a lawsuit.

Depending on the nature of the information and the agency managing the records, reports could be accessible online, over the phone, by mail, via email, or in person. Note that processes may vary per department, so be sure to coordinate with them beforehand.

In general, requests are addressed within 7 business days. Agencies do not charge for their first hour of searching/copying, but the succeeding hours would be based on the employee’s hourly rate. There will also be a $0.15 per page fee for black and white copies and $0.50 per page for colored copies. You may also utilize a trusted and reliable people search engine for faster and hassle-free processing.

Tennessee Background Check Report

Tennessee maintains an online repository of records, the Tennessee Open Records Information Services (TORIS), making background checks easier. You can conduct a name-based search on this site even without a waiver from the person you’re checking on. The report, however, would only indicate if the person has criminal history records or none.

For more thorough information and resources, you may opt to request a fingerprint-based search. You’ll need a complete set of the person’s fingerprints which could be acquired using the IdentoGo system. Should you still need more in-depth records information, you may reach out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a third-party search engine providing background check services.

Like other states, Tennessee’s criminal background checks adhere to federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These laws are put in place to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information, prohibiting bias, racism, and discrimination.

Additionally, Tennessee is a ban-the-box state, meaning, criminal record inquiries during initial interviews are prohibited. Other general state laws aim to protect applicants with a criminal history. 

Tennessee Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About Tennessee Background Checks

How far back do background checks go in Tennessee?

Unlike other states, Tennessee doesn’t implement a strict limitation on how far back background checks can go. These could go back for up to 30 years.

How do I get a background check in Tennessee?

You may submit a background check online or via mail. Be sure to fill out the application form and include payment information. For online requests, you must provide your credit card information.

How do I get a criminal background check in Tennessee?

If you are applying for employment in Tennessee, an employer will likely run a criminal background check on you. If you wish to obtain your criminal records, submit a request with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation online or via mail. Fingerprints are not required and there is a $29 fee. 

What disqualifies you from a job in a background check?

There are varying reasons why employers disqualify job applicants. These red flags could be because of criminal records directly related to the job responsibilities, education and/or employment history discrepancies, false or inaccurate information, failed drug test, and more.