When looking for a free background check, Tennessee, like many other states, offers a number of official TN records search options that allow users to find criminal and public records online.
When running a background check manually (not using a background check service), the process requires searching many different databases. Some of these, like sex offender registries, are free to access and search. Others, such as searching public records though the court or county clerk office will often require a small processing fee to obtain.
However, for official records search options, the following guide provides all the information for conducting a free background check, Tennessee residents, employers, landlords, and anyone can use to find public and criminal records.
Free Background Check: Tennessee Info and Public Records
The Freedom of Information Act means accessing public records is protected under law, and many states, including Tennessee, have developed online portals to make the process of finding public records even easier.
There are multiple agencies that keep and house various public records, such as marriage and divorce records, complete middle name and address lookup methods, as well as criminal histories. Therefore, determining what records are needed is the first step.
Once the records required are ascertained, it’s simply a matter of accessing the right TN records search option.
For example, if only court records are required (for a criminal history check), then going through the local court clerk in Tennessee will likely be the best option. But, to find arrest records, pending arrests, warrants, and inmate lookup, using the record-keeping services offered by the county sheriff will be a better option.
Besides going through state agencies there is also the option to use an online background check company to perform the name-based background check. Some of these companies offer free or heavily discounted 7-day free trials for their services.
However, state agencies will often charge a small fee to process the records.
Search Tennessee Public Records through County Clerks and Local Sheriff’s
Court records offer some of the most reliable and up-to-date Tennessee criminal history information. With only a few exceptions (like sealed or juvenile records), all court records are considered public information and therefore can be accessed by anyone who makes a request.
The process to request court records varies slightly from county to county, with some counties offering free online services.
Step 1: Access the Court Clerk’s Website
The first step is to access the website for the court clerk where the case was held or would have been held. This can be done using the table below. For example, to find information on crimes committed in Memphis, Tennessee individuals would go to Shelby County Circuit Court Clerk’s website.
Step 2: Access the Online Case Search
The court clerk’s website will generally have a page containing information on public records or information on how to perform a case search. For example, Shelby County uses an online portal to allow individuals to conduct searches.
Step 3: Follow Steps and Request Records
Once the online portal has been accessed it is as simple as following the individual steps. This usually involves paying a small fee and searching for information using a name or case number.
To search criminal records at the county sheriff’s officer, the steps are very similar.
Step 1. Visit the sheriff’s office link in the county where the person being searched lives.
Step 2. Examine the site for “background check” options, or “criminal history” search options.
Step 3. Enter the name of the person being searched into the search platform.
The following table provides links to all county court clerks and sheriff’s offices in the state of Tennessee:
Tennessee county clerks can also provide public record information for:
- Marriage Background Checks – to see if someone is already married, or has been married.
- Voter Registration Information – the voter rolls and registrations are public records.
- Address Lookup – where someone lives
- Motor Vehicles Registrations –These can be limited, depending on the county and who is making the request.
Tennessee Comptroller: Public Records Requests and Sunshine Law
In addition to the county clerks, the state of TN comptroller outlines a number of frequently asked questions about the Public Records Act, which allows citizens in the state to access records through specific requests.
The Sunshine law requires that all state meetings and legislative decisions are conducted in full view of the public. The state provides access using a lexis platform.
The Comptroller’s Real estate assessment data tool is a great source for finding free background checks, Tennessee information on a person who has owned property in the state, such as:
Examine Tennessee Court Records
Many Tennessee Court records can also be accessed through the Public Case History portal that is offered by the Tennessee Supreme Court. To conduct a check:
Step 1: Access the Public Case History Website
The first step is to access the online portal which can be found on the Tennessee court’s website. On the website select the case search link, which will take you to the search function.
Step 2: Perform Search
Once the search function has been accessed, simply select the search method and perform the search. Searches can be completed using the case number, or the name of an involved party.
How Much Is a Background Check in Tennessee?
Individuals interested in getting an official state background check will need to do so through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The TBI offers several different background check options at both the state level and a national background check that is performed by the FBI.
A state-only background check will cost $29 and an FBI background check will cost $50. The online platform allows users to pay for a background check in Tennessee using credit cards or other methods.
Background checks from a background check service will range widely depending on what information is requested.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Background Check
The TBI is the state agency in charge of performing background checks in the state. Although many states allow the state police department to perform background checks on individuals, in Tennessee this service is only offered by the TBI. A state background check can be completed online or by mail and is only a name-based background check that does not require fingerprints. Unfortunately, there is a fee so those hoping to obtain a free background check Tennessee will not be able to do so through the TBI.
FBI background checks can also be requested through the TBI. This background check will require fingerprints and is a nationwide background check. Detailed steps to obtain a TBI background check can be found below.
TORIS Background Check, Identogo Open Records Search Process
A TBI background check can be obtained online, using the online request portal, or by mail. Using the online portal is often the quickest and easiest method and costs the same as submitting a request by mail.
Step 1: Access the TBI website.
The TBI website will have more detailed background check information that is specific to the state as well as FAQs on background checks to ensure that individuals get the right information. Simply select the “background check” link on the website’s home page.
Step 2: Select Request Method
As mentioned, an online check will be the quickest and easiest method. If a paper application is needed, simply select the “additional information,” link to download the form and instructions on how to submit it. Otherwise, select the “online request form,” link.
Step 3: Fill Out Requestor Information Form and Payment
The contact information for the individual making the request is required to complete a background check. Simply fill out the information and provide a form of payment to access the request form.
Step 4: Submit Request
Once the requester information has been filled out and payment provided, simply follow the on-screen prompts to complete the request. Basic information on the individual will be needed for the TBI to perform a background check.
Free Criminal Background Check: Tennessee
Unfortunately, the only way to get a free background check in Tennessee is through an online background check company that offers a 7 day free trial. Each state agency that can access criminal history information will at the very least require a small processing fee to complete the request.
The best way to access criminal records for the state is through the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. This is done very easily through an online form. Simply print and fill out the form and then mail it to the following address:
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 25th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243
County criminal records are also a great source of information and can generally be obtained from the local Sheriff’s Department.
Step 1: Access the Local Sheriff’s Website
Access the website for the local sheriff’s office using the list provided above. Each website will have a page titled “records request,” or something similar.
This will have specific steps to make records request for each department.
Step 2: Fill out the form and Submit the Request
Each department will have a slightly different process but most will provide a records request form which can be filled out and submitted via email or mail. For example, the Shelby County Sheriff’s office provides a Public Records Request Form on their website.
Tennessee Background Check for Employment
A pre-employment background check in Tennessee should be no different than a background check in any other state. Expect the following checks to be performed as part of a pre-employment background check at a minimum:
- Social Security Verification
- Identity Verification
- Criminal Records History Check
Many employers will choose to perform additional checks such as previous employment verification, education checks, credit history checks, etc. Depending on the job duties.
Many jobs in Tennessee will have specific checks required by law.
Background Check Tennessee Teachers
Teachers in Tennessee are not subject to a specific background check that is required for educators. However, there are federal laws that require anyone that works with children, such as a teacher, to undergo specific background checks. These include checks of the following.
- FBI fingerprint check
- National Crime Information Center’s National Sex Offender Registry Check
- State criminal registry
- State sex offender registry
- State-based child abuse and neglect registry and database
There are several other laws surrounding these checks that are specific to Tennessee which can be found on the Tennessee Department of Human Services Website.
Healthcare Background Check TN: Background Check System
Tennessee requires all healthcare workers to undergo an FBI fingerprint-based background check when applying for licensure in the state. Additional checks will also be required by the healthcare facility that hires the individual. These include abuse and fraud registry checks as well as checks of unique databases such as the FDA Debarment list. Caregivers must also undergo similar checks.
Education Background Check Tennessee
An education background check in Tennessee will have the same requirements as those required for those working in Child Care. This includes a fingerprint-based check and checks off several unique neglects and abuse registry checks.
Tennessee Child Care Background Check
A child care background check in Tennessee is exhaustive and strict. There are numerous requirements and almost a dozen unique checks will be run as part of the daycare background check. Furthermore, this check will need to be completed every 5 years to continue working in childcare. Detailed steps can be found on the Tennessee Department of Human Services website.
Get Tennessee DOT Record
Obtaining a Tennessee Department of Transportation records request is extremely easy. All records requests can be made using the form provided on the Department of Transportation website. Simply fill out the provided form and follow the specific steps to send the form to the proper agency.
Tennessee Inmate Lookup and Sex Offender Registry Screening (Free Background Check)
Performing a Tennessee Inmate lookup is very simple and can be completed in just a few minutes using the Felony Offender Information portal provided by the Department of Corrections.
Simply access the FOIL Search function and search for individuals by name or TDOC ID or by State ID. Results will be available immediately.
Sex Offender information is also easy to search in Tennessee, searches can be completed for free in just a few minutes.
Simply access the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry website and perform a name-based search. Both of these searches are free.
Background Check for Gun Purchase in Tennessee
A TBI background check is required to purchase a gun in Tennessee. The process should only take a few minutes and is usually performed at the point of sale.
More information on Tennessee firearm background checks can be found on the TBI website.
Tennessee Background Check Laws
Tennessee has very few background check laws besides those mandated by the FCRA. Mainly there are two state laws for background checks in Tennessee.
The first is a social media Tennessee background check law that prohibits employers from requesting social media access to an applicant’s accounts. There are also ban-the-box laws that apply to the Tennessee public sector and to several cities in the state. This makes it illegal to request criminal history information until later in the hiring process.
The Tennessee Public Records Act clearly provides the legal justification that allows citizens to inspect and obtain any records allowed by law, under Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(2)(A).
How Long Does a Background Check Take In Tennessee?
A Tennessee background check should take less than a week for a name-based check. However, a fingerprint-based check will take up to two weeks.
Getting background check information in Tennessee is made easy through numerous online databases. Although there are only a few truly free background check Tennessee options, the most important information can be accessed quickly and affordably.