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Are Colorado Records Public?

Government records in Colorado are generally open to inspection. Almost anyone can obtain copies of a record as long as the request meets the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) provisions. Per the act, public records include information "made, maintained or kept by the state or agency." This includes obtaining records maintained by most branches of the government, including the Executive and Legislative.

Colorado law also specifies that all public records must " open for inspection by any person at a reasonable time", except where restricted by law. Depending on the government agency in charge of the information, records may be accessible in person, digitally, or via mail. Sometimes, sought records may be outside the custody of a particular government agency at the time of the request. In such instances, record custodians must notify the applicant immediately. 

Who Can Access Colorado Public Records?

Anyone can access public records in Colorado. Colorado's open record law does not limit access to only residents. Instead, it permits residents, non-residents, limited liability companies, partnerships, or associations to submit a request. Most agencies have the same general request requirements. To obtain a public record, you must submit an oral or written request with enough description to assist with the search. To help with the paperwork, Colorado agencies often provide a form that can be filled out.

Note: Unlike records maintained by the legislative and executive arm, records maintained by the Judicial branch are not attainable under the Colorado Open Records Act. Instead, access is granted under the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act

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

You don't need to state a particular reason when requesting public records. Colorado's Open Records Act directly provides that public records must " open for inspection by any person at a reasonable time. In addition, most government agencies do not require you to show a driver's license or some other form of identification when obtaining records covered by the state's Open Records Act. However, identification may be necessary to inspect or obtain copies of a record from law enforcement agencies or the Vital Records Department. 

What Records are Public in Colorado?

Colorado's public record law covers a wide variety of records maintained by different arms of the government. It includes all non-exempt records maintained by town, city, and country authorities. It also applies to any "agency or instrumentality" of a political subdivision as well as non-profit organizations working with public agencies. Some common examples of public records in Colorado include vital records, court records, bankruptcy records, criminal records, sex offender information, and inmate records. 

Colorado Public Criminal Records

Colorado public criminal records provide official documentation of a person's contact with law enforcement agencies. They include details of any arrests and convictions as well as personal identifying information, such as the person's name, height, date of birth, and fingerprints. Under Colorado laws, such records are open and generally accessible to the public, with the exception of protected information such as the following:

  • Arrest records sealed by a court order
  • Records of residents aged 17 years or younger (except when adjudicated)

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation serves as the central repository for criminal arrest records in the state. To obtain criminal records in Colorado, you'll need to provide some information about the individuals, such as the person's first and last name, date of birth, and IDT number, if known.

CBI Headquarters

690 Kipling St., Suite 3000

Lakewood, CO 80215


Colorado Public Arrest Records

In Colorado, public arrest records are generally available per the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). Anyone can inspect or obtain copies of an arrest record by submitting a request to the relevant law enforcement agency or court. Arrest records are generally maintained by the arresting agency, such as the Sheriff’s Office or local police departments. These records often contain the arrestee’s name, date of birth, gender, offense, date/time of arrest, and the arresting agency’s name. However, Colorado public arrest records do not typically include court or conviction information and, as such, should not be used in place of a criminal record.

Colorado Public Inmate Records

Inmate records provide information on offenders held in correctional facilities maintained by the state, county, or city. Public records typically include details such as the offender's name, age, sentencing date, and holding facility. Under Colorado law, anyone can access inmate records. However, the steps to obtaining records vary with different agencies.

For instance, the Colorado Department of Correction maintains records of inmates housed in state-run correctional facilities. To look up public Colorado inmate records maintained by the DOC, you'll need to provide enough information to facilitate the search, such as the inmate's name or a known ID number. In contrast, records of inmates housed in county or city jails are generally maintained by law enforcement agencies in the county or city, such as the County sheriff's office.

Colorado Department of Correction,
1250 Academy Park Loop,
Colorado Springs, CO 80910,
Phone: 719-579-9580,

Colorado Public Sex Offender Information

Anyone may obtain public sex offender information by contacting a local police department, county sheriff's office, or the Colorado Bureau of Information (CBI). In compliance with state laws, the CBI also provides a convenient option for accessing such information via an online sex offender registry. It includes details of offenders convicted of sex offenses in different counties across the state. Additionally, the registry lists known sexually violent predators (including those in prison, as well as repeat offenders with two or more adult felony convictions.

Note: Although the sex offender registry provides public information on sex offenders, it does not list all offenders in the state. Some information, such as the details of juveniles adjudicated, are not posted online. Additionally, it does not include offenders who have been convicted of misdemeanor offenses. 

Colorado Public Birth Records

Colorado birth records provide official information about an individual's birth. Oversight of these records falls under the purvey of the Vital Records section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The office has records of births that occurred in the state from 1910 to date.

To obtain copies of a Colorado birth record, you must submit a completed application form and pay the appropriate fees. The office charges $20 for the first certified copy and $13 for each additional copy. Some of the details needed to obtain a record include the registrant's name, the parents' full name, the date of birth, city of birth, and sex. You'll also need to provide your details and an address where the record will be shipped to. Completed applications can be submitted in person (appointment only), online, or by mail to the following address:

Vital Records Section

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South


Denver, CO 80246-1530

Note: Per Colorado state statute (C.R.S. 25-2-117), birth records are only released to eligible parties, such as:

  • The registrant (individual named on the record)
  • Children (adults)
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents, step-parents, or legal guardian
  • Siblings
  • Any legal representative of the above

Colorado Public Death Records

To obtain a copy of a Colorado death record, you'll need to establish "proof of relationship or legal interest." Unlike some US states, Colorado death records can only be accessed by eligible parties, such as a current or ex-spouse, parent, sibling, children, legal representative, or sibling. Death records can also be obtained by creditors, employers, beneficiaries, insurance companies, medical professionals, and genealogists.

Colorado death records provide information about death events within the state. They contain details such as the decedent's full name, date of death, and place of death. At the state level, these records are maintained by the Vital Records Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. However, residents can also obtain copies of a record by contacting the county vital record offices. 

To obtain a copy of a record, you must submit a completed application form and send it via mail to the:

Vital Record Mail Services,
ATTN: Colorado Vital Records,
P.O. Box 222130, El Paso,
TX 79912

Alternatively, you can submit your application by making an appointment with the vital records office. The department opens to the public from Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Colorado Public Marriage Records 

Colorado marriage records contain details of marriage unions that have taken place in towns, cities, and counties across the state. Records may provide basic information such as the full name of the bride and groom, the date and place of the marriage, as well as the names of witnesses who were present during the union.

To obtain marriage records, you'll first need to confirm when the marriage occurred. While the Colorado State Archives maintains older records of marriage unions that occurred between 1890 and 1939, information on marriages after this period can only be obtained by contacting the County Clerk and Recorder in the county where the marriage happened. Some counties provide options for submitting in-person, online, and mail-in requests, while others might have limited options. A fee is typically required for certified copies.

Note: Most marriage records do not include the names of the spouses. 

Colorado Public Divorce Records

Under Colorado law, most divorce records remain restricted for a fixed number of years before becoming public. However, the decree of dissolution of marriage is open to the public and can be accessed by anyone as long as it does not contain protected details such as financial agreements or parenting information. Divorce records are maintained at the District Court, where the divorce was filed.

To obtain a divorce record, you'll need to have specific information, such as the name of the registrants and the case number under which it was filed in the district or county courts. Eligible parties can obtain copies of a record by submitting an application with the court clerk. In addition to paying a fee to cover the cost of making copies, record custodians may require that applicants submit a valid government-issued photo ID.

Colorado Public Court Records

Court records in Colorado refer to official documents and information generated during legal proceedings (including civil and criminal cases). Public court records in Colorado typically include details such as case information, party names, court proceedings, judgments, and documents filed during the legal process. However, certain sensitive information, such as juvenile records or certain sealed cases, may be exempt from public access due to privacy or legal considerations.

The Colorado Judicial Branch, specifically the Office of the State Court Administrator, is responsible for maintaining court records in the state.

Colorado Public Bankruptcy Records

Colorado Bankruptcy records provide information on individuals or organizations who have filed for bankruptcy. These cases are processed through the U.S Bankruptcy Court (District of Colorado) and, therefore, become open. Some of the personal and financial information that may be accessible to the public includes:

  • Details of the debtor and creditors
  • Contact details
  • Case information such as the filing date, case number, type of bankruptcy chapter, and status of the case
  • Name of the overseeing judge
  • Name of the appointed bankruptcy trustee

To look up bankruptcy records, you must provide some specific details, such as a case number. One option for obtaining records is to use the online PACER system (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). However, this system will require a registered account with a valid email. Alternatively, record seekers can search for information in person at any of the courts. The court opens for records from Monday through Friday between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM at the following address.

United States Bankruptcy Court

District of Colorado

721 19th St.

Denver, CO 80202

Note: Although bankruptcy records are open to the public, certain records are exempted from public view. These include personal and protected information such as the registrant's birthday, name of children, and social security or account numbers. 

What is Exempted Under the Colorado Public Records Act?

Although the Colorado Public Records Act provides broad access to most government records, it sets some restrictions. Colorado government agencies can deny requests for any public record containing information protected or exempted by law. Some exemptions are mandatory, while others are left to the discretion of the custodian. With discretionary exemptions, record keepers are allowed to withhold records if they find that the disclosure would be "contrary to the public interest."

Examples of exemptions listed under the Colorado Public Records Act include but are not limited to:

  • Records containing trade secrets, confidential information, or privileged information. 
  • Library records that reveal the user's identity.
  • Records of ongoing administrative or civil investigations conducted by a state agency. 
  • Records containing mental health, medical, and sociological data. 
  • Records containing test questions on employment, academic, or licensing exams.
  • Information provided on a marriage or civil union license application (however, marriage licenses are public)
  • Records containing identifying information (such as motor vehicle licenses)
  • Personal details provided by a person to an elected official, such as home addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers. 
  • Letters of reference. 

How Do I Find Public Records in Colorado?

Anyone can find public records in Colorado by following several general steps.

Step 1. Identify the Right Agency

Colorado's public record laws provide broad access to a wide variety of records, but most records are rarely located in the same agency. To obtain records, you must make a direct application to the appropriate government office or the custodian of the records. For instance, inmate information is maintained by the Colorado Department of Correction, while the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issues vital records.

Step 2. Get Enough Information for a Search

Although the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) states that everyone must have access to records, it also provides that submitted requests must have "sufficient specificity" to allow the custodian reasonable time to find the records. The only way of ensuring this is to provide enough information to assist with the search. For example, if you're requesting marriage records, your request should include the names of the parties, the date of the marriage, and the location.

Step 3. Contact the Agency and Pay the Fees(s)

Once you've identified the right agency and have the right information, you'll be ready to begin a search. Contact the record custodian to request records. Some agencies provide multiple options for requesting records, some of which include the following:

  • In-person requests,
  • Online requests,
  • Mail requests
  • Email requests

In-person requests typically have the quickest response time, while mail and online requests take slightly longer. You may also need to pay a fee to obtain copies of the record. Certified copies generally cost more than paper copies. 

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

Free public records may be available on some third-party sites. Third-party sites collate public records from cities, counties, and other archives within and beyond Colorado. This makes them a convenient option for users who want a simplified solution to obtaining records. To find free public records in Colorado using third-party sites, you'll need to provide some information for the search. Most sites offer limited options for running search queries, such as the registrant's name or a case number. Some sites allow you to filter results by county, city, or geolocation.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in Colorado?

Under Colorado's law, record custodians are allowed to charge a fee for making copies of a record. However, the exact cost of obtaining a public record varies based on the type of record and the number of copies. For instance, custodians can charge up to 25 cents per page for each paper record copy. However, requests for data stored in other formats (e.g., CD or microfilm) will likely cost more. 

Depending on the request, some fees may be waived. For example, a custodian may reduce or waive the fee of obtaining a record if it's being used for a public purpose, such as academic research or non-profit activities. However, such decisions are mandatory and only done at the custodian's discretion.

Note: Custodians may charge up to $30 an hour if searching and retrieving a record takes longer than an hour.

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

If an agency refuses a public records request, your first step is to ascertain why. If the custodian has not provided a reason, request that they provide a written statement explaining the decision. Custodians often deny requests that are either too vague or too broad. In such instances, some applicants can reverse denials by writing a letter clarifying the requested information. 

However, if this isn't effective, you can file a civil action at the nearest district court requesting a review of the custodian's decision. A court challenge is typically allowed after 14 days. During the 14-day cooling period, the custodian will typically schedule a meeting (with or without a mediator) to try and reach a resolution. If you challenge a denial in court and have the denial reversed, you're entitled to a recovery of your court and attorney fees and a copy of the disputed records. However, if the court finds that your request was groundless or frivolous, the court will hold you responsible for the costs to the government and attorney fees.

Colorado 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!