A public record is any document available for public inspection and retrieval. There are many different types of public records including arrest records, birth records, business records, court proceedings and criminal records, death records, and divorce records. Other kinds include jail records, marriage records, tax records, genealogy records, and also sex offender registries. Many public records are available for inspection at local county clerk offices. Some public records are available online, while other public records are available only by visiting the government office where they are maintained. Certain types of public records such as birth records and death records are kept permanently, while other documents such as court records, adoptions, and other sensitive information may be kept sealed, unavailable to the public except under exceptional circumstances.
There are many types of public records. Most can be obtained in either certified or non-certified form. Certified records are required when applying for benefits or in proving parentage or family records. Non-certified records are usually suitable for genealogy research and other informal purposes.