Free Background Check: Tennessee (TN) Records Search

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 8, 2024

Free background check, Tennessee man wonders how to get a free criminal background check, TN state on the right with a magnifying glass over the state and a trail of dollars with a circle and slash through them showing the free TN records search options available in Tennessee public records.

Tennessee Background Check for Free
Free Tennessee background check to look for criminal records, background history, court documents, and public records.

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 through the court or county clerk’s 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,1 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.

Close up image of a request for background check form

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.2

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.3

Step 3: Follow the 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 office, 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 WebsiteSheriff’s Office
Anderson CountyAnderson Court ClerkAnderson Sheriff’s Office 
Bedford CountyBedford Court ClerkBedford Sheriff’s Office
Benton CountyBenton Court ClerkBenton Sheriff’s Office
Bledsoe CountyBledsoe Court Clerk Bledsoe Sheriff’s Office
Blount CountyBlount Court ClerkBlount Sheriff’s Office
Bradley CountyBradley Court ClerkBradley Sheriff’s Office
Campbell CountyCampbell Court ClerkCampbell Sheriff’s Office
Carrol CountyCarrol Court ClerkCarrol Sheriff’s Office
Carter CountyCarter Court ClerkCarter Sheriff’s Office
Cheatham CountyCheatham Court ClerkCheatham Sheriff’s Office
Chester CountyChester Court ClerkChester Sheriff’s Office
Claiborne CountyClaiborne Court ClerkClaiborne Sheriff’s Office
Clay CountyClay Court ClerkClay Sheriff’s Office
Cocke CountyCocke Court ClerkCocke Sheriff’s Office
Coffee CountyCoffee Court ClerkCoffee Sheriff’s Office
Crockett CountyCrockett Court ClerkCrockett Sheriff’s Office
Cumberland CountyCumberland Court ClerkCumberland Sheriff’s Office
Davidson CountyDavidson Court ClerkDavidson Sheriff’s Office
Decatur CountyDecatur Court ClerkDecatur Sheriff’s Office
Dekalb CountyDekalb Court ClerkDekalb Sheriff’s Office
Dickson CountyDickson Court ClerkDickson Sheriff’s Office
Dyer CountyDyer Court ClerkDyer Sheriff’s Office
Fayette CountyFayette Court ClerkFayette Sheriff’s Office
Fentress CountyFentress Court ClerkFentress Sheriff’s Office
Franklin CountyFranklin Court ClerkFranklin Sheriff’s Office
Gibson CountyGibson Court ClerkGibson Sheriff’s Office
Grainger CountyGrainger Court ClerkGrainger Sheriff’s Office
Greene CountyGreene Court ClerkGreene Sheriff’s Office
Grundy CountyGrundy Court ClerkGrundy Sheriff’s Office
Hamblen CountyHamblen Court ClerkHamblen Sheriff’s Office
Hamilton CountyHamilton Court ClerkHamilton Sheriff’s Office
Hancock CountyHancock Court ClerkHancock Sheriff’s Office
Hardeman CountyHardeman Court ClerkHardeman Sheriff’s Office
Hardin CountyHardin Court ClerkHardin Sheriff’s Office
Hawkins CountyHawkins Court ClerkHawkins Sheriff’s Office
Haywood CountyHaywood Court ClerkHaywood Sheriff’s Office
Henderson CountyHenderson Court ClerkHenderson Sheriff’s Office
Henry CountyHenry Court ClerkHenry Sheriff’s Office
Hickman CountyHickman Court ClerkHickman Sheriff’s Office
Houston CountyHouston Court ClerkHouston Sheriff’s Office
Humphreys CountyHumphreys Court ClerkHumphreys Sheriff’s Office
Jefferson CountyJefferson Court ClerkJefferson Sheriff’s Office
Johnson CountyJohnson Court ClerkJohnson Sheriff’s Office
Knox CountyKnox Court ClerkKnox Sheriff’s Office
Lake CountyLake Court ClerkLake Sheriff’s Office
Lauderdale CountyLauderdale Court ClerkLauderdale Sheriff’s Office
Lawrence CountyLawrence Court ClerkLawrence Sheriff’s Office
Lewis CountyLewis Court ClerkLewis Sheriff’s Office
Lincoln CountyLincoln Court ClerkLincoln Sheriff’s Office
Loudon CountyLoudon Court ClerkLoudon Sheriff’s Office
Macon CountyMacon Court ClerkMacon Sheriff’s Office
Madison CountyMadison Court ClerkMadison Sheriff’s Office
Marion CountyMarion Court ClerkMarion Sheriff’s Office
Marshall CountyMarshall Court ClerkMarshall Sheriff’s Office
Maury CountyMaury Court ClerkMaury Sheriff’s Office
McMinn CountyMcMinn Court ClerkMcMinn Sheriff’s Office
McNairy CountyMcNairy Court ClerkMcNairy Sheriff’s Office
Meigs CountyMeigs Court ClerkMeigs Sheriff’s Office
Monroe CountyMonroe Court ClerkMonroe Sheriff’s Office
Montgomery CountyMontgomery Court ClerkMontgomery Sheriff’s Office
Moore CountyMoore Court ClerkMoore Sheriff’s Office
Morgan CountyMorgan Court ClerkMorgan Sheriff’s Office
Obion CountyObion Court ClerkObion Sheriff’s Office
Overton CountyOverton Court ClerkOverton Sheriff’s Office
Perry CountyPerry Court ClerkPerry Sheriff’s Office
Pickett CountyPickett Court ClerkPickett Sheriff’s Office
Polk CountyPolk Court ClerkPolk Sheriff’s Office
Putnam CountyPutnam Court ClerkPutnam Sheriff’s Office
Rhea CountyRhea Court ClerkRhea Sheriff’s Office
Roane CountyRoane Court ClerkRoane Sheriff’s Office
Robertson CountyRobertson Court ClerkRobertson Sheriff’s Office
Rutherford CountyRutherford Court ClerkRutherford Sheriff’s Office
Scott County CountyScott Court ClerkScott Sheriff’s Office
Sequatchie County CountySequatchie Court ClerkSequatchie Sheriff’s Office
Sevier County CountySevier Court ClerkSevier Sheriff’s Office
Shelby CountyShelby Court ClerkShelby Sheriff’s Office
Smith CountySmith Court ClerkSmith Sheriff’s Office
Stewart CountyStewart Court ClerkStewart Sheriff’s Office
Sullivan CountySullivan Court ClerkSullivan Sheriff’s Office
Sumner CountySumner Court ClerkSumner Sheriff’s Office
Tipton CountyTipton Court ClerkTipton Sheriff’s Office
Trousdale CountyTrousdale Court ClerkTrousdale Sheriff’s Office
Unicoi CountyUnicoi Court ClerkUnicoi Sheriff’s Office
Van Buren CountyVan Buren Court ClerkVan Buren Sheriff’s Office
Warren CountyWarren Court ClerkWarren Sheriff’s Office
Washing CountytonWashington Court ClerkWashington Sheriff’s Office
Wayne CountyWayne Court ClerkWayne Sheriff’s Office
Weakly CountyWeakly Court ClerkWeakly Sheriff’s Office
White CountyWhite Court ClerkWhite Sheriff’s Office
Williamson CountyWilliamson Court ClerkWilliamson Sheriff’s Office

Graphic showing the other public record information Tennessee County Clerks provide

Tennessee county clerks can also provide public record information for:

  • Background Checks for Marriage: 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 Vehicle 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.4,5

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.6

The Comptroller’s Real Estate assessment data tool is a great source for finding free background checks,7 and 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.8 To conduct a check:

Close up image of a court gavel on a brown document folder

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.9 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 cover the cost of 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.

(Image by: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation11)

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.10

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.11 Otherwise, select the “online request form,” link.12

Step 3: Fill Out the 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.13 This is done very easily through an online form.14 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 its website.15

TN Sheriff's department public request form for finding Tennessee public records screenshot explaining that police department records are not included.

(Image by: Shelby County Sheriff’s Offiice15)

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 who works with children, such as a teacher, to undergo specific background checks.16 These include checks of the following.

Graphic showing the different kinds of background check performed for Tennessee teachers based on some federal laws.

  • 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.17

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.18 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.19 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 neglect and abuse registry checks.

Tennessee Child Care Background Check

A childcare background check in Tennessee is exhaustive and strict.20 There are numerous requirements and almost a dozen unique checks will be run as part of the background screening for daycare.

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.17

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.21 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.22 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.23 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.24

Tennessee Background Check Laws

Tennessee has very few background check laws besides those mandated by the FCRA.25 Mainly there are two state laws for background checks in Tennessee.

Screenshot image of the fair credit reporting act on the federal trade commission website.

(Image by: Federal Trade Commission25)

The first law involves a regulation on social media background checks in Tennessee which 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,26 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Background Checks in Tennessee

How Do I Get a Background Check in Tennessee?

A Tennessee background check can be obtained through the TBI.

What Shows Up on a Background Check in Tennessee?

There are no laws in Tennessee that determine what can show up on a background check beside those mandated by the FCRA.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in Tennessee?

A typical background check should take less than two weeks and as little as 48 hours.

Is Tennessee an Open Carry State?

Individuals 21 and older can open carry a handgun in Tennessee without special permits.

How Many Years Can an Employer Go Back on a Background Check in Tennessee?

A Tennessee background check can go back indefinitely, although 7 years is standard.

What’s a 7 Year Background Check Tennessee?

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.


1Freedom of Information Act. (2024). Freedom of Information Act Website Homepage. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

2Shelby County Tennessee. (2024). Circuit Court Cler. Shelby County Tennessee Mayor Lee Haris. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

3Shelby County TN Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. (2014). Shelby County TN Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Jamita Swearengen, Clerk. Court Connect. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

4Tennesse Comptroller of the Treasury. (2024). Advanced Search. Tennesse Comptroller of the Treasury. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

5Tennesse Comptroller of the Treasury. (2024). Tennessee Public Records Act FAQs. Open Records Counsel. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

6LexisNexis. (2024). Tennessee Code Unannotated – Free Public Access. LexisNexis. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

7Tennesse Comptroller of the Treasury. (2024). Tennessee Property Assessment Data. Tennesse Comptroller of the Treasury. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

8Tennessee Courts System. (2024). Public Case History. Tennessee Courts System. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

9State of Tennessee. Bureau of Investigation. State of Tennesse. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

10State of Tennessee. (2024). Background Checks. Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

11Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (2024). Memorandum. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

12Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (2024). Tennessee Open Records Information Service. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

13Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. (2024). Open Records. Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

14Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. (2024). PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST. Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

15Shelby County Sheriff’s Offiice. (2024). Public Records Request Form. Shelby County Sheriff’s Offiice. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <> (2024). Staff Background Check. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

17State of Tennesee. (2024). Background Checks for Child Care Employees. Department of Human Service. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

18State of Tennesee. (2024). Criminal Background Check Instructions. Department of Human Service. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

19US Food & Drug. (2024, March 25). FDA Debarment List (Drug Product Applications). US Food & Drug. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

20State of Tennesee. (2024). Out of State Registry Check (If you work for a child care in TN). Department of Human Service. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

21State of Tennesee. (2024). TDOT PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST. Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

22State of Tennesee. (2024). Felony Offender Information. Department of Correction. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

23Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. (2024). Help Us Find These Wanted Violators. Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

24Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (2024). TICS/Firearm Background Checks. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>

25Federal Trade Commission. (2024). Fair Credit Reporting Ac. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <>


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