Open Records Requests

Finance Department

Open Records
North Dakota has “sunshine laws,” which make all government records and meetings open to the public unless a specific law authorizes a record to be withheld or a meeting to be closed.

These laws apply to all state and local government agencies, rural fire and ambulance districts, public schools, private businesses or non-profit organizations that are supported by or expending public funds, and contractors, if the contractor is providing services in place of a public entity rather than to that entity.

  • The courts are not subject to open records and meetings law.

Anyone has the right to attend meetings of a public entity or to access and obtain copies of the entity’s records, regardless of where they live.

Open Records Information
The North Dakota Division of Vital Records issues certified copies of all births and deaths that occurred in the state of North Dakota.  

Requests for certified copies of marriage and divorce records must be obtained through the county where the marriage license was issued or the divorce was decreed. Contact Williams County for further information.

City of Williston open Records Request Form

For Police Department record requests, go here

From the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General

North Dakota’s laws state that all government records and meetings must be open to the public unless otherwise authorized by a specific law. The basic laws are found in North Dakota Century Code, beginning at §44-04-17.1. The public has the right to know how government functions are performed and how public funds are spent.

Anyone has the right to access and obtain copies of a public entity’s records, regardless of where they live.

A request must reasonably identify specific records. The request can be made by any available medium - such as phone, email, mail - or in person,  and does not have to be in writing.

  • A request for information is not a request for a record.

When a public entity receives a request for records, it must respond within a reasonable time, either by providing the records or by citing the legal authority for denying the request. 

  • What is “reasonable” depends on many factors, including the amount and type of records you requested.

If asked, the entity must put a denial in writing.  A public entity can charge for providing records, and may require payment of any estimated charges before fulfilling an open record request.

  • A public entity has no obligation to respond to requests for information or to questions about its duties and functions, to explain the content of any of its records, to create or compile records, or to convert existing records to another format.

Find more detailed information in the North Dakota Open Records Guide.