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Are South Dakota Records Public?

Yes, South Dakota records are accessible to members of the public unless they are classified as exempt under state laws. The South Dakota Sunshine Law governs all public records requests and determines which records are accessible. Furthermore, it requires custodian agencies to disclose public documents upon request. The South Dakota Open Meeting Law also governs access to public records in the state. However, the law only covers documents generated during public meetings.

Per these state laws, South Dakota public records are documents in the custody of state or local government agencies. These documents may exist in physical or digital forms, such as type-written documents, text messages, and audio or video tapes.

Who Can Access South Dakota Public Records?

Per South Dakota Codified Law (Section 1-27-1), all public members can access South Dakota public records.

Interested public members must contact the designated record custodian to access South Dakota records. These custodian agencies may include both state and local government entities. That said, the state allows requesters to make an informal or written request to obtain public documents. Requesters may need to provide identification when accessing confidential records like birth or marriage certificates. However, there is no requirement to provide a statement of intent when accessing records.

Note: Custodian agencies will not disclose documents or information classified as exempt under state laws. For example, the Secretary of Correction restricts inmates from accessing information related to correctional facilities.

Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in South Dakota?

Record seekers are not legally required to state their intent for requesting a public record. To obtain a South Dakota public record, you only need to provide a valid ID and a written request to the record custodian. The request must contain the record subjects’s details and the requester’s contact details. Furthermore, record seekers must attach the required search fee and other accrued fees to their requests.

What Records are Public in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, multiple records are classified as public records. Examples of public records in South Dakota include arrest data, sex offenders’ information, inmate records, bankruptcy records, and court records. That being said, these records are available at designated state or local government agencies. For example, sex offenders’ data is under the purview of the South Dakota Department of Corrections.

South Dakota Public Court Records

South Dakota public court records contain information on documents generated during court proceedings. These documents may include court summons, case files, judgments, and docket sheets. Note that South Dakota court records may contain different data, depending on the case type. For example, civil court cases may include consumer complaints, while criminal court records contain arrest warrants and felony charges.

What Information Will I Find in a South Dakota Court Record?

Court records in South Dakota may contain the following general information:

  • The defendant's and plaintiff’s names
  • Case-file number
  • Names of the presiding judge and attorneys
  • Case filing date
  • Final judgment

South Dakota’s public court records are under the control of the courthouse where the case was filed. For example, you will find civil court records at the local magistrate's or circuit court's office. On the other hand, the local circuit court keeps all criminal records.

Note: Record custodians will withhold sealed or confidential information from public access. For example, the court clerks will withhold mental health reports and information on minors. Only the record subject or their legal representatives can obtain the exempt information from the public.

South Dakota Public Criminal Records

In South Dakota, criminal records contain information on an individual’s criminal history. These records may contain information on arrests, criminal charges, bails and bonds, and investigations. Only the record subject and authorized persons or entities can access criminal records in South Dakota.

South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), via the Identification Section, processes all requests for criminal records. To obtain a criminal record in South Dakota, record seekers must follow these steps:

  1. Fill out an online fingerprint Card Ordering Form or call the Identification Section at (605) 773-3331 for a fingerprint card. The DCI will send a fingerprint card, which you must fill out.
  2. Visit the nearest South Dakota police or sheriff's department to print the card.
  3. Also, fill out the Release and Authorization form.
  4. Attach a $26.75 money order or check payable to the Division of Criminal Investigations
  5. Send all these documents to the DCI at the address below:

State of South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations 

Office of Attorney General

George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center

Pierre, South Dakota 57501-8505 

Phone: (605) 773-3331 

Fax: (605) 773-4629

South Dakota Public Arrest Records

South Dakota arrest records are public documents and are accessible via local law enforcement agencies. You may also find these documents online via the South Dakota Public Access Records Search (PARS) website. To access South Dakota arrest records, you must fill out the record subject’s full name, case type, and birth date.

Note: There are no time restrictions for accessing recent arrest records. Only sealed or expunged arrest records are not publicly accessible.

South Dakota Public Bankruptcy Records

South Dakota public bankruptcy records are all official documents pertaining to a bankruptcy case. These documents may include financial data, property records, and contact details of all concerned parties. Additional information in bankruptcy records may include:

  • The name of the presiding judge
  • Case disposition
  • Case type
  • The bankruptcy chapter
  • Contact details of all stakeholders in the case

According to the South Dakota Sunshine Law, bankruptcy records are public documents. The US Bankruptcy Court - District of South Dakota is the record custodian of all bankruptcy records. It provides online access to the records via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). PACER is a searchable database for accessing online copies of bankruptcy records in South Dakota. To use the database, create an account and select the bankruptcy court overseeing the record.

The Bankruptcy Court -District of South Dakota is located at:

U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse

225 South Pierre Street,

Rooms 203 and 211

Pierre, SD 57501–2463

Phone: (605) 945-4460

Phone: (605) 945-4490

South Dakota Public Birth Records

In South Dakota, birth records contain information on birth events recorded within the state. You may find these details in a South Dakota birth record:

  • The record subject's full birth names 
  • The mother's maiden name 
  • Birth date 
  • Place of birth (may include county and town locations) 
  • Father's name
  • Attendant at birth

The South Dakota Department of Health maintains and issues copies of informational and certified birth records. Most importantly, it only issues birth records to the following people:

  • The record subject 
  • Immediate family members (parents, guardians, spouses, children) 
  • Authorized representatives of the record subject

To obtain copies of South Dakota birth records, eligible persons must follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the request form for birth record 
  2. Notarize the completed form or attach a copy of a photo ID to the document.
  3. Include a $15 money order or check payable to the mail address.
  4. Send all these documents to the nearest Register of Deeds Office or to:

Vital Records Office

211 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (605) 773-4961


South Dakota Public Death Records

South Dakota public death records are official documents on death events and may cover these details:

  • The deceased’s information (name, gender, birth date, place of death, and age)
  • State file number
  • Demographic information (residence, surviving spouse, place of death, and parent’s name)
  • Manner and cause of death
  • Date filed

The South Dakota Department of Health and the Register of Deeds Office are the state-level custodians of death records. These agencies provide access to death records via mail or in-person requests. Since death records are confidential, only these individuals can access them:

  • The deceased’s immediate family members
  • Court-approved guardians
  • Authorized persons, such as attorneys, funeral directors, and physicians.
  • The deceased’s next of kin
  • Requesters with a property or personal right to the document

To obtain copies of South Dakota death records, you must provide these documents:

  1. Notarized request form for the death record (Attach a copy of a valid photo ID for un-notarized request forms.)
  2. A $15 search fee 
  3. Send these documents via mail or in person to:

Vital Records Office

211 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (605) 773-4961

South Dakota Public Marriage Records

South Dakota’s public marriage records are government records on marriage events. These documents may provide this information:

  • The couple’s names
  • Date and location of the marriage event
  • Names of witnesses
  • Name of officiant

The State Department of Health maintains and issues certified and informational copies of marriage records. Marriage records are confidential and accessible to only the record subject, direct relatives, and authorized persons.

Eligible persons can access South Dakota marriage records via these steps:

  1. Fill out a notarized marriage record request form 
  2. Include a copy of a photo ID for un-notarized request forms
  3. Attach a $15 search fee as a money order or check to this address:

Vital Records Office

211 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (605) 773-4961


South Dakota Public Divorce Records

South Dakota divorce records provide data on marriage dissolutions and may include these details:

  • The record subjects’ full names
  • The county where the divorce occurred
  • The dissolution date

All South Dakota divorce records are under the purview of the state health department. Per the state laws, vital records are confidential, and only these requesters can access them:

  • The record subjects
  • Immediate family members, including current spouses, parents, offspring, and siblings
  • The record subject’s legal representatives

To obtain South Dakota divorce records, you must provide these documents to the Department of Health:

Vital Records Office

211 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (605) 773-4961


South Dakota Public Inmate Records

In South Dakota, inmate records are public documents and are accessible to all requesters. Interested parties can find these details in a South Dakota inmate record:

  • The inmate's full birth name 
  • Physical-identifying features, such as sex, height, and weight. 
  • Aliases 
  • Current facility
  • DOC number 
  • Correctional status.

The South Dakota Department of Corrections is the custodian of inmate records. It maintains and provides access to inmate records via a searchable database. To use the platform, input the inmate's name or DOC number.

Note: Not all inmate records are public documents. For example, record custodians restrict public access to juvenile inmate records.

South Dakota Department of Corrections

3200 East Highway 34

c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (605) 773-3478

Fax: (605) 773-6810

South Dakota Public Sex Offender Information

In South Dakota, sex offenders’ records are accessible to all record seekers. Per the SDCL 22-24B-10, the sex offender record contains the offender's full name and aliases, physical description, mugshot, residence, and crime description. The law also restricts public access to sex offenders' social security numbers, DNA samples, and victim names.

The Office of the Attorney General, via the Division of Criminal Investigations, is the record custodian of sex offenders’ information. It maintains a searchable portal for all sex offenders in South Dakota. To find sex offender information on the platform, record seekers may use these search options:

  • Search by text (names, aliases, or city) 
  • Search by neighborhood (street address, city, mile radius)

Note: It is a class six felony to use this record to intimidate, threaten, or harass sex offenders or their family members. Convicted offenders may face up to two years in jail or pay fines up to $4,000.

South Dakota Public Property Records

South Dakota's public property records are official documents pertaining to properties within the state. These records may contain these details:

  • Mortgages 
  • Plats 
  • Liens 
  • Deeds 
  • Property survey information 
  • Covenants
  • Assessed real estate value. 

To obtain property records in South Dakota, record seekers must visit the Register of Deeds Office where the property is situated. 

What is Exempted Under the South Dakota Public Records Act?

The South Dakota Public Records Act contains a list of documents inaccessible to the public. These documents usually contain information that may jeopardize the security or safety of concerned persons or entities. For example, exempt documents may include records of juveniles incarcerated at the Department of Corrections. Files listing the locations of weapons or ammunition are not public documents. Other exempt files in South Dakota may include the following:

  • Information about security details for private or public properties
  • Personal details of students, including prospective and former students, who are under the custody of an educational institution
  • Personnel data, excluding salary and directory information, of public officials.
  • Documents classified as confidential or closed by the state courts
  • Documents in the custody of public agencies that maintain collections of paleontological, archaeological, or historical significance

How Can I Gain Access to Exempt Records in South Dakota?

Only the record subject and authorized persons or entities can view exempt records. For instance, juvenile inmate records are only accessible to the record subject and authorized entities, such as government officials.

To access exempt records, third-party requesters may send an appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners. The agency’s sole duty is to consider whether or not the document should be released.

How Do I Find Public Records in South Dakota?

Follow these simple steps to find public records in South Dakota:

Step 1: Find the record custodian in charge of maintaining the public record

In South Dakota, public agencies are often in charge of records related to their core responsibilities. For example, inmate records are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections. Note that this is not the case for some records. The Office of the Attorney General’s Office has a division that provides sex offenders’ data and criminal histories. For this reason, type in the record name into a search engine to find agencies holding it.

Step 2: Check if you have the legal requirement to access the record

Some South Dakota public records are not open to all requesters. Agencies may restrict the general public from accessing confidential records. However, they may release the records to requesters with a legal and direct interest in the record. For example, vital records are accessible to the record subject, legal representatives, and government officials. So, contact the agency if you are unsure about your eligibility to obtain a record.

Step 3: Select your preferred way of accessing the record

Public records are mostly accessible via phone, mail, online, or in-person requests. Some record custodians may offer one or more of these request options. So, check their official website and view the instructions for your preferred request method.

Step 4: Make a request to the record custodian

You may not need to write a request to access online South Dakota records. So, this step is for in-person and mail requests. Record custodians in South Dakota may provide an online or downloadable request form. In the absence of such forms, you may create a written request that may contain the following information:

  • The record subject’s full name
  • The requester’s name and contact number
  • The document’s serial identifying number (if available)
  • The exact date or calendar year when the record was filed.

Can I Find Free Public Records in South Dakota Using Third-Party Sites?

Yes. Some South Dakota public records are free and obtainable on third-party websites. These sites may feature information on public documents, such as property and vital records. That said, requesters may prefer third-party sites due to these reasons:

  • They are often easy to navigate
  • They don’t require your ID or personal details.

Note: Third-party search sites may contain outdated public documents. Therefore, you may need to use government sites to access recent documents.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in South Dakota?

There are no fixed costs for public records in South Dakota. According to SDCL Sections 1-27-1.2, record custodians may charge a fee for producing a copy of public records. The fee must cover the cost of the computer equipment or software used in generating the record. The cost may also cover the mailing fees and the hours spent retrieving the document. In addition, the costs may differ based on the type of record produced. For example, it costs $15 to obtain a South Dakota vital record.

Note: The state law prohibits record custodians from charging fees for the electronic transfer of minutes of public meetings.

Can I Waive the Public Records Fee in South Dakota?

Yes, you can request a fee waiver for public records in South Dakota. Per SDL 1-27-36, record custodians can waive the fees if the disclosure of the document serves the public interest.

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

Here are steps to take if a record custodian refuses a public records request:

Step 1: Find reasons why your request was denied

Record custodians must provide the reasons for denying the request in writing. In most cases, these reasons may include:

  • The document is exempt under the public records law
  • The documents are no longer in their custody
  • The requester is not authorized to access the file.

Step 2: Appeal and challenge the decision

Per SDL 1-27-38, you must appeal a denied request within 90 days of the denial. You may file a written notice of review with the Office of Hearing Examiners or start a civil action by summons. For the former option, your notice of review must provide the following information:

  • The requester’s name and contact details
  • The name and location of the public official denying the request
  • A copy of the written records request
  • A copy of the response from the public official
  • The name of the entity in charge of disclosing the document
  • Other information related to the request.

Upon receiving the notice of review, the Office of Hearing Examiners will send a copy to the public officer named in it. Next, the public officer must send a reply within 10 business days of receiving the copy. The Office of the Hearing Examiner will then review the submissions of both parties before making a final decision.

South Dakota Public Records
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!