How do I get a background check in Tennessee?
A Tennessee background check can be obtained through the TBI.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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:
|County||Court Clerk Website||Sheriff’s Office|
|Anderson County||Anderson Court Clerk||Anderson Sheriff’s Office|
|Bedford County||Bedford Court Clerk||Bedford Sheriff’s Office|
|Benton County||Benton Court Clerk||Benton Sheriff’s Office|
|Bledsoe County||Bledsoe Court Clerk||Bledsoe Sheriff’s Office|
|Blount County||Blount Court Clerk||Blount Sheriff’s Office|
|Bradley County||Bradley Court Clerk||Bradley Sheriff’s Office|
|Campbell County||Campbell Court Clerk||Campbell Sheriff’s Office|
|Carrol County||Carrol Court Clerk||Carrol Sheriff’s Office|
|Carter County||Carter Court Clerk||Carter Sheriff’s Office|
|Cheatham County||Cheatham Court Clerk||Cheatham Sheriff’s Office|
|Chester County||Chester Court Clerk||Chester Sheriff’s Office|
|Claiborne County||Claiborne Court Clerk||Claiborne Sheriff’s Office|
|Clay County||Clay Court Clerk||Clay Sheriff’s Office|
|Cocke County||Cocke Court Clerk||Cocke Sheriff’s Office|
|Coffee County||Coffee Court Clerk||Coffee Sheriff’s Office|
|Crockett County||Crockett Court Clerk||Crockett Sheriff’s Office|
|Cumberland County||Cumberland Court Clerk||Cumberland Sheriff’s Office|
|Davidson County||Davidson Court Clerk||Davidson Sheriff’s Office|
|Decatur County||Decatur Court Clerk||Decatur Sheriff’s Office|
|Dekalb County||Dekalb Court Clerk||Dekalb Sheriff’s Office|
|Dickson County||Dickson Court Clerk||Dickson Sheriff’s Office|
|Dyer County||Dyer Court Clerk||Dyer Sheriff’s Office|
|Fayette County||Fayette Court Clerk||Fayette Sheriff’s Office|
|Fentress County||Fentress Court Clerk||Fentress Sheriff’s Office|
|Franklin County||Franklin Court Clerk||Franklin Sheriff’s Office|
|Gibson County||Gibson Court Clerk||Gibson Sheriff’s Office|
|Grainger County||Grainger Court Clerk||Grainger Sheriff’s Office|
|Greene County||Greene Court Clerk||Greene Sheriff’s Office|
|Grundy County||Grundy Court Clerk||Grundy Sheriff’s Office|
|Hamblen County||Hamblen Court Clerk||Hamblen Sheriff’s Office|
|Hamilton County||Hamilton Court Clerk||Hamilton Sheriff’s Office|
|Hancock County||Hancock Court Clerk||Hancock Sheriff’s Office|
|Hardeman County||Hardeman Court Clerk||Hardeman Sheriff’s Office|
|Hardin County||Hardin Court Clerk||Hardin Sheriff’s Office|
|Hawkins County||Hawkins Court Clerk||Hawkins Sheriff’s Office|
|Haywood County||Haywood Court Clerk||Haywood Sheriff’s Office|
|Henderson County||Henderson Court Clerk||Henderson Sheriff’s Office|
|Henry County||Henry Court Clerk||Henry Sheriff’s Office|
|Hickman County||Hickman Court Clerk||Hickman Sheriff’s Office|
|Houston County||Houston Court Clerk||Houston Sheriff’s Office|
|Humphreys County||Humphreys Court Clerk||Humphreys Sheriff’s Office|
|Jefferson County||Jefferson Court Clerk||Jefferson Sheriff’s Office|
|Johnson County||Johnson Court Clerk||Johnson Sheriff’s Office|
|Knox County||Knox Court Clerk||Knox Sheriff’s Office|
|Lake County||Lake Court Clerk||Lake Sheriff’s Office|
|Lauderdale County||Lauderdale Court Clerk||Lauderdale Sheriff’s Office|
|Lawrence County||Lawrence Court Clerk||Lawrence Sheriff’s Office|
|Lewis County||Lewis Court Clerk||Lewis Sheriff’s Office|
|Lincoln County||Lincoln Court Clerk||Lincoln Sheriff’s Office|
|Loudon County||Loudon Court Clerk||Loudon Sheriff’s Office|
|Macon County||Macon Court Clerk||Macon Sheriff’s Office|
|Madison County||Madison Court Clerk||Madison Sheriff’s Office|
|Marion County||Marion Court Clerk||Marion Sheriff’s Office|
|Marshall County||Marshall Court Clerk||Marshall Sheriff’s Office|
|Maury County||Maury Court Clerk||Maury Sheriff’s Office|
|McMinn County||McMinn Court Clerk||McMinn Sheriff’s Office|
|McNairy County||McNairy Court Clerk||McNairy Sheriff’s Office|
|Meigs County||Meigs Court Clerk||Meigs Sheriff’s Office|
|Monroe County||Monroe Court Clerk||Monroe Sheriff’s Office|
|Montgomery County||Montgomery Court Clerk||Montgomery Sheriff’s Office|
|Moore County||Moore Court Clerk||Moore Sheriff’s Office|
|Morgan County||Morgan Court Clerk||Morgan Sheriff’s Office|
|Obion County||Obion Court Clerk||Obion Sheriff’s Office|
|Overton County||Overton Court Clerk||Overton Sheriff’s Office|
|Perry County||Perry Court Clerk||Perry Sheriff’s Office|
|Pickett County||Pickett Court Clerk||Pickett Sheriff’s Office|
|Polk County||Polk Court Clerk||Polk Sheriff’s Office|
|Putnam County||Putnam Court Clerk||Putnam Sheriff’s Office|
|Rhea County||Rhea Court Clerk||Rhea Sheriff’s Office|
|Roane County||Roane Court Clerk||Roane Sheriff’s Office|
|Robertson County||Robertson Court Clerk||Robertson Sheriff’s Office|
|Rutherford County||Rutherford Court Clerk||Rutherford Sheriff’s Office|
|Scott County County||Scott Court Clerk||Scott Sheriff’s Office|
|Sequatchie County County||Sequatchie Court Clerk||Sequatchie Sheriff’s Office|
|Sevier County County||Sevier Court Clerk||Sevier Sheriff’s Office|
|Shelby County||Shelby Court Clerk||Shelby Sheriff’s Office|
|Smith County||Smith Court Clerk||Smith Sheriff’s Office|
|Stewart County||Stewart Court Clerk||Stewart Sheriff’s Office|
|Sullivan County||Sullivan Court Clerk||Sullivan Sheriff’s Office|
|Sumner County||Sumner Court Clerk||Sumner Sheriff’s Office|
|Tipton County||Tipton Court Clerk||Tipton Sheriff’s Office|
|Trousdale County||Trousdale Court Clerk||Trousdale Sheriff’s Office|
|Unicoi County||Unicoi Court Clerk||Unicoi Sheriff’s Office|
|Van Buren County||Van Buren Court Clerk||Van Buren Sheriff’s Office|
|Warren County||Warren Court Clerk||Warren Sheriff’s Office|
|Washing Countyton||Washington Court Clerk||Washington Sheriff’s Office|
|Wayne County||Wayne Court Clerk||Wayne Sheriff’s Office|
|Weakly County||Weakly Court Clerk||Weakly Sheriff’s Office|
|White County||White Court Clerk||White Sheriff’s Office|
|Williamson County||Williamson Court Clerk||Williamson Sheriff’s Office|
Tennessee county clerks can also provide public record information for:
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:
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
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.
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.
Background checks from a background check service will range widely depending on what information is requested.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
A Tennessee background check can be obtained through the TBI.
There are no laws in Tennessee that determine what can show up on a background check beside those mandated by the FCRA.
A typical background check should take less than two weeks and as little as 48 hours.
Individuals 21 and older can open carry a handgun in Tennessee without special permits.
A Tennessee background check can go back indefinitely, although 7 years is standard.
Tennessee is not a 7 year state, background checks can go back indefinitely. However, in most cases, a background check will only go back 7 years.