Open Records > Requesting OOR Records

REQUESTING RECORDS FROM THE OFFICE OF OPEN RECORDS

Before you send a request to the OOR, please read the following carefully -- it will help speed your response time.

The Office of Open Records is an independent, quasi-judicial agency that decides appeals of denied requests for government records.

The OOR is NOT a warehouse of records for state agencies and local agencies. (We’re actually a pretty small office. We don’t have the space for that!)

That means the vast majority of Right-to-Know (RTK) requests made to the OOR are misdirected. In other words, the OOR does not have the records requested -- so the person making the request has wasted time and effort.

For example, if you want a copy of the XYZ Borough annual budget, your first step must be to contact XYZ Borough, not the OOR. Likewise, if you want to see ABC School District superintendent’s contact, your first step must be to contact ABC School District, not the OOR.

When you file a RTK request with the wrong agency, it will take longer for you to get the records. In fact, it can can cause a delay of a month or more.

The chart below will help you find the correct agency to contact for the most common types of misdirected requests. Please consult this list before filing a request -- in many case, you’ll be able to find the records you want without even filing a RTK request anywhere.

After reading all that, if you believe the OOR has the records you want, here’s what to do: - (Download PDF)

Here’s a chart, updated weekly, showing every RTK request received by the OOR in 2015: - (Download PDF) 

 

Type of Record

Correct Agency

Birth/death certificates

Birth and death certificates can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. More information can be found here.

Marriage licenses

Copies of marriage licenses can be obtained from the Register of Wills in the County where the marriage took place. A list of the Registers of Wills in Pennsylvania can be found here.

Divorce records

Records related to divorce proceedings can be obtained from the Prothonotary in the County where the divorce took place.  A list of County prothonotaries can be found here.

Ancestry information

There is no agency tasked with compiling this type of information. You need to file a separate request with the appropriate agency for each type of record you seek, i.e. birth certificate, death certificate marriage license, etc.

Records from a criminal proceeding

Records related to a criminal proceeding can be obtained from the Clerk of Courts in the County where the proceeding took place.  A list of Clerks of Courts in Pennsylvania can be found here.

Records from a civil proceeding

Records related to a civil proceeding can be obtained from the Prothonotary in the County where the civil proceeding took place.  A list of County prothonotaries can be found here.

Autopsy information

The cause and manner of death are available from the Coroner's Office in the County where the death occurred.

Property records

Certain records, such as deeds, can be obtained from the Recorder of Deeds in the County where the property is located.  Other records, such as zoning records, permits, etc., can be obtained from the Municipality or Township where the property is located.

Criminal background checks

Criminal background checks are conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police. More information can be found here.

Salaries of Commonwealth employees

The salaries of Commonwealth employees are available via PENNWATCH.

Commonwealth budget and spending information

This information is also available on PENNWATCH.

Environmental assessment records

These records can often be obtained from the Township or Municipality where the property is located.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection may also possess certain records.

Licensing information

The Pennsylvania Department of State is responsible for licensing various entities, including nurses, cosmetologists, funeral home directors, etc. The Department's Right-to-Know policy can be found here.

Docket sheets

Criminal and appellate docket sheets can be accessed through Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System webportal.

Contracts for Commonwealth agencies

Contracts involving Commonwealth agencies can be accessed at Pennsylvania's E-Contracts Library. Meanwhile, bidding and award information can be found on Pennsylvania's eMarketplace portal.

Unclaimed property

The Treasury Department maintains custody of unclaimed property until it is claimed by the rightful owner.  Additional information regarding the types of unclaimed property maintained by the Treasury Department and to search a database of unclaimed property, you may visit the Unclaimed Property website.

Adoption Records

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services maintains the Pennsylvania Adoption Information Registry (“PAIR”).  PAIR is a medical and social database for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth relatives who would like to share or obtain medical or social history about themselves or their birth relatives.  Additional information regarding this program is available on the PAIR website.

General Education Development (GED) transcripts

GED transcripts can be requested from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  Information on how to request a GED transcript is available here.

High School and College transcripts

Former students may request a copy of their academic transcript by contacting the educational institution they attended.  Additional information about requesting academic transcripts of schools no longer in operation is available from the Department of Education.

 

For all other records: if you know the agency that would possess the records you seek, you can find its Registered Open Records Officer on the OOR's website.