Free Montana State Records Search (Public Information Access)

Free Montana Records Page Search
Access Montana Records: warrants, divorce and marriage, arrests, driver's license, and all public records.

Montana, like a majority of states, has written into their constitution a law giving citizens access to search and view a majority of Montana state records for free. Closely tied to this Montana law is the right to privacy also given to the people.1

The right to privacy law can, at times, make it difficult to find certain public records. Individuals seeking state records should consult official government websites and agencies. There are various official resources compile and maintain these records.

Thus, this article aims to help interested individuals view and obtain copies of state records with ease.

Montana Open Record Laws on Public Information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted by the United States Federal Government in 1967, gave citizens the right to search and request copies of most federal records with relatively few exclusions.2

Montana laws regarding the right to public knowledge and the right to privacy can sometimes conflict. This can make it less clear which documents are able to be obtained by citizens because the accessibility of those records is left up to the interpretation of the record holder.3

Some of these documents have little restriction, some are available only to particular individuals, but others are completely restricted.

When searching for documents, a majority of resources will make it clear who is authorized to search and obtain particular documents. Because of the wide variety of Montana state records, documents are held by various entities. Locating the correct jurisdiction or agency and finding the appropriate place to search could be difficult and time-consuming.

It may be beneficial to take advantage of a private, third-party that compiles all public information into a single search. Although this service might not be free of charge, it is worth keeping in mind that many government sites and services may also charge a fee for document production.

A Look at Criminal Records in Montana

Criminal records in Montana encompass a wide variety of documents and information, some of which are public while some are confidential. These records include, but are not limited to:4

  • Investigation Information
  • Crime Scene Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Records of Arrests
  • Convictions
  • Jail or Prison Sentences

Many individuals may benefit from the data contained in criminal records. Employers, property owners, and domestic partners (at minimum) may find the information in these records important when pursuing or continuing a working or personal relationship.

Can Anyone Obtain MT Criminal Records?

Montana state records of criminals have been separated into public information and confidential information by the Criminal Justice Information Act enacted in 1979.4

Public criminal information is initially made available by the agency or department in which the records originate. A fee can be charged for these documents, but there is no restriction on who accesses these records. Examples of criminal records available to the public are:4

  • Records of Arrests
  • Records of Offenses
  • Bail Information
  • Convictions
  • Prosecutions
  • Sentences

Montana criminal records that are deemed confidential are only accessible to parties involved. Confidential records can include:4

  • Information in an open criminal investigation
  • Fingerprints
  • Crime Scene Photographs
  • Documents Sealed by the Court
  • Information that could identify a sexual assault victim

How Can I Find Out if Someone Has a Criminal History in Montana?

Montana compiles its criminal records through the Montana Department of Justice. Name-based background checks are open to a request by the public through an online search, mail-in request, or in-person request.5

The Criminal History Online Public Record Search allows users to perform a single search for $20 or sign up as a registered user for $100 a year for unlimited searches. The search requires a first name, last name, and birthday. Social security numbers and alias information are optional but may aid in searches.

A screenshot displays an online search form from the Division of Criminal Investigation, where users can input the last name, first name, date of birth, and social security number of an individual to retrieve information with the entry of up to four aliases for the individual being searched.
Source: Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation13

To mail in a request, money order, or check for $15 to U.S. Funds should be included with the following:

  • First and Last Name (required)
  • Birth Date (required)
  • Aliases (if known)
  • Social Security Number (if known)

Send the request to:

Montana Criminal Records
PO Box 201403
Helena, Montana 59620

An in-person request can be made Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. All required information for a mail-in request will also be needed for the in-person request and can be made at:

Investigations Division
2225 11th Ave
Helena, Montana 59601

If an individual is searching for a criminal record for themselves, many cities and counties throughout Montana will provide these records, but only for that particular jurisdiction and person (unless a signed waiver from a separate individual is included).

Additionally, records can also be acquired from the courts, the Montana Judicial Branch offers centralized Public Access Portals that allows citizens to access case records, including criminal cases within the state.

Furthermore, criminal record can also be obtained from local government agency, such as sheriff’s office and police department. For instance, to request for criminal information in the City of Missoula, requester must complete the Criminal History Request Form and mail it to the departments, along with a $15 check.

Missoula Police Department Criminal History Record Check Request form to search free Montana criminal records in the county of Missoula.
Source: Missoula Police Department14

Other resources to locate criminal records are made available through different agencies throughout the state. Searchers may also consider running a Criminal Background Check or reaching out to the Crime Information Bureau (CIB), provided by the Montana Department of Justice.

The Sexual or Violent Offender Registry, arrest records, court records, etc., can also provide pertinent information on individuals. Each of these avenues will be expanded below.

Where Can I Find Mugshots & Arrests in Montana?

Montana has 56 counties and roughly 129 cities or towns.

Many of these municipalities have city or county jails. When an offender is arrested in one of these cities or towns, a mugshot is taken upon booking. Not all cities and counties provide mugshots with their arrest records, but some do.

When searching for arrest information and mugshots in Montana, there are legitimate sources that the public may consider. The Montana Department of Corrections offers an Offender Search; the results may not include the offender’s mugshots. However, this may provide pertinent information about the arrest.

Additionally, some county sheriff’s office in the state offers an online databases of recent arrest and mugshots within their jurisdiction. For example, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office offers a Jail Roster which includes recent releases, current inmates, recent bookings and offenders mugshots.

Courts and local police department can also provide mugshots and arrest information to requesters.

A screenshot displays a section from a jail roster, providing details about the current inmates at Flathead County Detention Center, including total count, last update time, and highlighting a specific inmate’s entry which includes his photo and charge status with colored indications for charge severity.
Source: Flathead County Sheriff’s Office15

Montana Juvenile Records: Are They Public Information?

According to the Montana Code, juvenile records are available to the public (with exception) until the subject’s 18th birthday, in which case, the records will be sealed.

Juvenile public records in Montana include law enforcement and juvenile court records.

Montana state records for juveniles that will not be sealed include:

  • Medical Information
  • DNA Samples
  • Fingerprints
  • Unfulfilled Court Requirements
  • Traffic Violations
  • Records Pertaining to the Youth as a Sexual Offender

How To Determine if You or Someone Else Is Wanted (Free Montana Warrant Search)

Unlike some states, there is no statewide active warrant search function for Montana. A majority of cities and counties in the state keep records of warrants, typically through the sheriff’s department or municipal court. Each entity will have active warrant information online or through a phone or in-person inquiry.

If a warrant is suspected in a specific city or county, using a search engine can lead to the correct website.

To find out if there is an active warrant for one’s self or someone else in the city of Helena, typing “City of Helena Montana arrest warrant” in a web search will lead to the City of Helena’s government website Arrest Warrant page. A link is then provided for the Active Warrants page.

A screenshot shows a listing of alphabetically organized arrest warrants updated on April 26, 2024, starting with the letter "A" and showing individual names.
Source: City of Helena, MT6

If the name of the individual in question is located on the above page, there is an active warrant for them. To clear a warrant, the Helena Municipal Court must be contacted Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm at 406-447-8466 to set up an appointment to speak to a judge.6

If a city or county search does not pull up an active warrant list, the city or county sheriff or municipal court can be contacted to find warrant status and information.

How To Check the Montana Sex Offender Registry

In 1989, legislation regarding sexual offenders was enacted and subsequently updated in 1995. The Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act requires both violent and sexual offenders to register with the Montana Department of Corrections. This registry gives the public free access to:7

  • Offender’s First and Last Name
  • Aliases
  • Last Known Address
  • The Agency the Offender Registered with
  • Offense
  • Court Case
  • Mugshot (Not included for most violent offenders)

Offenders stay on the registry for life unless the court deems the offender not to be a hazard to the public and the offender hasn’t broken a law for 10 years.8

The Sexual or Violent Offender Registry can be searched by offender basics or a location search. An offender search is an effective way to look for a specific person. A location search can bring up all offenders within a radius of a certain address. For example, the State Capitol of Montana’s address, which is 1301 E 6th Ave, brings up 123 offenders, 55 of those being sex offenders, within a one mile radius.

A screenshot displays a map with marked locations indicating the presence of offenders in Montana, categorized by offense type, such as multiple offenders in one location, sexual offenders, and violent offenders, with detailed offender information available on the sidebar.
Source: Montana Department of Justice16

To receive alerts of new offenders in a certain area or changes to registry status through the Sexual and Violent Offenders Registry, an account needs to be created on the Montana Official State Website.

If more information is needed for a sex offender or violent offender in Montana, a complete criminal record of an individual can be accessed through the Criminal History Online Public Record Search for a fee.

How Do Background Checks in Montana Work?

Background checks can be important when hiring employees, vetting tenants, engaging with business partners, etc. When conducting a background check, results can include:

  • History of Residence
  • Criminal Record
  • Past and present employment information
  • Driving records

A criminal background check, as referenced earlier, includes items such as arrest records, convictions, and jail or prison sentences. If only a criminal record is required, following the process to obtain documents through the Criminal History Online Public Record Search should produce the records needed.

A fingerprint-based background check is also available but must include documentation from the subject giving permission to access the requested records. Results for this background check included results for additional states including:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

The fingerprint request card along with a $10 check or money order made to US Funds can be mailed or delivered to:

Montana Criminal Records
2225 11th Ave
Helena, Montana 59601

If the other specifics mentioned above are required, a private background check company can provide more detailed information. These services are provided at a cost, but a majority include a criminal record, which incurs a fee through the government site alone.

Montana Court Records

The Montana Judicial Branch is an overarching system that comprises several different courts. These courts consist of:9

  • The Montana Supreme Court – Handles final appeals
  • District Courts – Hear criminal and civil cases and certain appeals
  • Water Court – Jurisdiction to claims regarding water rights
  • Municipal, City, and Justice Courts – Try misdemeanor cases, civil issues for no more than $12,000, small claims, etc.
  • Workers’ Compensation Court – Deals with all disputes regarding workers’ compensation
  • Youth Court – Hears juvenile cases
  • Treatment Courts – Try cases that involve those addicted to alcohol or drugs

Unless expunged or sealed by the court, court records are public information and can be obtained by the public.

How To Access Montana Court Records  (Name & Case Search)

Active or closed case documents for the Montana Supreme Court from 2007 to the present are virtually located on the Supreme Court Public View Docket Search.

For cases between 1979 and 2007, docket information is available in the search, but no documents or transcripts are available online. The cases and documents that are available online are accessible at no charge.

An active case for the Supreme Court can be found by the attorney, parties’ names, or case number. Case information included the docket details and a complete list of actions with associated documents which are available to view, download, and/or print.

Finding court documents for other courts throughout the state is not as straightforward. The Montana Judicial Branch website provides a Court Locator to pinpoint courts that serve certain cities and counties. Once a specific court is located, more information regarding access to court documents can be found.

Using Missoula as an example, the Court Locator lists that Missoula is under the 4th Judicial District. A web search of “4th Judicial District Montana” leads to the Missoula County Website Copies & Records Searches page. Court documents can be requested through the Clerk of District Court by email, fax, or mail at the following:

200 W Broadway
Missoula, Montana 59802
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 406-258-4899

A self-addressed envelope with a stamp should be included with a mailed request. The cost of documents will be communicated to the requestor by the clerk and can be paid by check, credit, or debit card.

Due to the number of courts throughout Montana, a third-party, private search may be beneficial in looking for court documents.

One federal district court is located in Montana. Federal court records are searchable through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Case records are $.10 per page with a $3.00 limit per single document.10

How To Check Montana Bankruptcy Records

Bankruptcy matters in Montana are handled by the District of Montana United States Bankruptcy Court. Because this is a federal court, bankruptcy court records can also be accessed through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER).

Public computers are available at the four different court offices located in:

Mike Mansfield Federal Courthouse
400 N Main St, 2nd Floor
Butte, Montana 59701

James F. Battin Federal Courthouse
2601 2nd Ave North
Billings, Montana 59101

Missouri River Federal Courthouse
125 Central Ave West
Great Falls, Montana 59404

Russell Smith Federal Courthouse
2001 East Broadway
Missoula, Montana 59802

Documents can be viewed on these terminals for free and printed for $.10 per page.

Closed and archived bankruptcy cases can also be found on the National Archives Court Records page.

Inmate Records in Montana

Finding an inmate in a Montana jail or prison can be important to those keeping track of an incarcerated person. An individual may need to know details of a relative’s whereabouts in order to send money or to plan a visit, or, simply have knowledge that a certain person is still serving a sentence. Inmate records typically include the inmate’s name, inmate number, location, jail or prison term, and parole information.

Find Someone Recently Arrested or in Jail

City and county jails are managed locally. Many jails throughout the state of Montana give the ability to search and view recent arrests and bookings.

To search records for a specific county, anyone can follow the steps in the Montana inmate search tutorial to gain information on that county’s record custodians and whether a website is available with records or contact information for all incarcerated individuals.

In Broadwater County inmate information can be found from the County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Roster.

Specific inmates can be located by name, or all inmates can be viewed and sorted by name, date, current, or release.

A screenshot shows the inmate roster of the Broadwater County Sheriff's Office website, displaying a single inmate's details such as booking number, booking date, and charges, along with options to search for other inmates by name or browse the alphabetical listings.
Source: Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office17

If a city or county jail or sheriff’s office does not have an online search of arrests and inmates, calling the local jail or law enforcement office may provide the information needed. For more guidance, anyone can review the process of obtaining MT arrest and criminal records via Montana law enforcement agencies.

Find Prison Inmate Records (Federal & State Prisoners)

The Montana Department of Corrections manages prisoners housed in all five state prisons. An Offender Search is provided on the website with the availability to look up an inmate by Department of Corrections Identification number, first name, or last name.

Offender information includes ID numbers, personal details, descriptions, convictions, sentences, etc.

To find an inmate in federal prison, the Find an Inmate page is located on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. Many options to search federal inmates on this site are available, such as record numbers, but all that is necessary is a first and last name.

This record search will pull up the same type of information as the state search: location, offense, incarceration term, etc.

Montana Department of Corrections criminal offender search tool requiring DOC identification number and name.
Source: Montana Department of Corrections18

Montana Vital Records (Vital Statistics Analysis Unit)

The state of Montana’s births and deaths are recorded and documented by the Montana Office of Vital Records. A majority of states manage records for marriage and divorce, but this is not the case for Montana.11

The Montana Vital Records office should not be confused with the Vital Statistics Analysis Unit. The VSAU does not record any vital event or issue any certificates in reference to vital events. This unit compiles already recorded data in reference to vital events and publishes reports in regard to them.12

Accessing Montana Vital Records (Free Montana Marriage & Divorce Records)

Most information located in vital records in Montana is public. There are, however, stipulations on who can access actually certified copies of these records. The requestor must have proof of identification that the document is in reference to themselves or to an approved relation.

Although there are limitations as to who can access this information through the Vital Records, third-party search sites check government resources and other online sites like social media so they may have more information where access to vital records is restricted.

To give readers an idea of just how many people are divorced, the graph below shows Montana’s divorce rates by county and based on the United States Census Bureau estimates over the past 5 years.

The divorce population rates of each County are shown on an outline map of Montana with its Counties based on Census Bureau forecasts year 2021.
Source: Census Bureau

A majority of government agencies in Montana process requests for certified records, so obtaining information that is located in vital records is limited to certain agencies or companies.

How To Get Copies & Replacement Certificates in Montana (Free MT Divorce & Other Vital Records)

VitalChek is a website utilized by the Montana Vital Records office to provide certified copies of documents to requestors. Because Montana uses this service to give citizens access to the vital records they need, ordering a copy of a certificate is simple. VitalChek does require proof of self or relation when ordering a certified document along with other detailed information.

VitalChek also allows for a birth search (if the birth occurred more than 30 years ago) and a death search. These searches must be done by phone at +1-888-877-1946.

The cost of a typical birth search is $10, and a typical death search is $13. If the date of birth or death is unknown, additional fees may apply.

If the requestor prefers to mail a request for a certified copy of a certificate, requests can be made to Montana Vital Records at:

Montana Vital Records
111 North Sanders Room 6

PO Box 4210
Helena, Montana 59604

The request must include a Birth Certificate Application or a Death Certificate Application, a signed and notarized copy of approved identification, and a check made payable to Montana Vital Records. Fees for certified birth certificates are $12 and certified death certificates are $16.

A screenshot displays an application form from the Montana Vital Records for a birth certificate, requesting detailed information such as full name, date and place of birth, parents' names, and reasons for needing the certificate, along with sections for notarization and official use.
Source: Montana Vital Records19

County clerks throughout the state also have access to vital records. Each county in Montana will have a specific procedure to access certified copies of records or a requestor will be directed to use VitalChek.

For example, a search for “Cascade County Montana Birth Certificate” directs the user to the Cascade County Court & Recorder’s Office website. Here, a user can find documents and instructions to request birth and death certificates along with other limited Montana state records directly from the county.


1Montana Legislature. (n.d.). Part II. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS – Table of Contents, Title 0, Chapter 2, MCA. Montana State Legislature. Retrieved June 22, 2022, from <>

2United States Department of Justice. (n.d.). Freedom of Information Act: Learn. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from <>

3Montana Secretary of State. (n.d.). Privacy Versus the Right to Know – Montana Secretary of State – Christi Jacobsen. Montana Secretary of State. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

4Montana Attorney General. (2020). Right to Know and Right of Privacy Laws. Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

5Montana Attorney General. (2022). Background Checks. Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

6City of Helena. (2019). Arrest Warrants & Defendants in Custody. City of Helena. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

7Montana Department of Justice. (2020). Sexual or Violent Offender Registry. Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

8Montana Department of Justice. (2020). History. Montana Department of Justice. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

9Montana Judicial Branch. (n.d.). Montana Courts. Montana Judicial Branch. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

10Administrative Office of the US Courts. (n.d.). PACER Case Locator: PACER. PACER Case Locator: PACER. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

11Department of Public Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Birth &amp; Death Certificates. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

12Department of Public Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Vital Statistics Unit. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from <>

13Montana Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation. (2023). Search. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from   <>

14Missoula Police Department. (n.d.). Criminal History Record Check Request. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from <>

15Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. (2023). Jail Roster. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from   <>

16Montana Department of Justice. (2023). Search Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act (SVOR) Offenders. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from <>

17Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office. (2023). Inmate Roster. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from <>

18Montana Department of Corrections. (2023). Offender Search. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from <>

19Montana Vital Records. (2023). Who Can Order a Birth Certificate? Retrieved June 5, 2023, from <>