Background Checks in Massachusetts

Table of Contents

What is a background check?

A background check is an investigation into an individual’s criminal record, employment history, driving record, education, finances, or other aspects of their personal history. 

Background checks are often performed by an organization or company in order to screen a subject before a significant financial or legal agreement. However, individuals regularly perform background checks on themselves to make sure that the public information on them matches their personal records.

For more general information on background checks, consult our Background Checks FAQS page.  

How do I run a criminal background check in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts arrest records and criminal history information can be found using iCORI, an online search service provided by the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services

iCORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) is a fee-based searchable online database of Massachusetts criminal history information that one must register to use. Searches are performed by typing in a subject’s name and other personal information. One search costs $25

The service grants varying levels of access to criminal records depending on an individual or organization’s level of authorization. The two levels of access available to the general public are Open Access and Personal Access.

Open Access lets you view the following information for anyone in the database:

  • Murder, manslaughter, and sex offense convictions.
  • All misdemeanor convictions occurring within one year of the request.
  • All felony convictions occurring within two years of the request.
  • All felony convictions punishable by five or more years in state prison occurring within ten years of the request. 

Public Access gives an individual a more thorough look at their own criminal record, including:

  • Adult convictions
  • Non-convictions
  • Pending cases
  • Civil and non-incarcerable offenses
  • Adjudications for juvenile offenses charged as an adult

Click here to register as an individual to use iCORI

How can I have a Massachusetts arrest record or other criminal record sealed?

In Massachusetts, there are circumstances where you can have convictions and non-convictions sealed by the court where the case originated.

Conviction records can be sealed after a specific amount of time has passed:

  • Misdemeanors – 3 years after being found guilty or finishing a prison or jail sentence (whichever date is the most recent)
  • Felonies – 7 years after being found guilty or finishing a  prison or jail sentence (whichever date is most recent)

Non-convictions can be requested sealed after these case results:

  • Not guilty verdict
  • Failure to indict
  • No probable cause
  • Dismissal without probation

Contact the Office of the Commissioner of Probation for more information at (617) 727-5300.

How do I search for Massachusetts court records online?

Individuals can search public Massachusetts court records using the Massachusetts Trial Court Electronic Case Access tool.  You don’t need to register or log in to be able to use the search. 

The searchable database includes records from: 

  • Boston Municipal Courts
  • District Courts
  • Housing Courts
  • The Land Court Department
  • The Probate and Family Court
  • The Massachusetts Superior Court   

Massachusetts Trial Court Electronic Case Access lets you search by the following criteria:

  • Name
  • Case type
  • Case Number
  • Ticket/citation #

Click here to perform a search of Massachusetts court records. 

Where can I find Massachusetts driving records online? 

Anyone can order a Massachusetts driving record online using the Massachusetts RMV Public Driving Record Request Transaction

Two types of driving records are available through the service:

  1. Unattested Public Driving Record – A non-certified driving record intended for personal reference that can be viewed online. The price is $8 and the record will be delivered in PDF format. 
  2. True and Attested Public Driving Record – A stamped and certified driving record that can be used for official purposes. This record can only be delivered to the record holder through the mail. The price is $20

In order to order a record, you’ll need to provide the following information, whether or not you are requesting your own driving record or the record of another person:

  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Driver’s license, permit, or ID number
  • Social security number

Click here to begin the process of ordering a driving record. 

How do I look up Massachusetts vital records such as birth certificates and marriage licenses?

Vital records are records of important life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that are kept by government agencies and accessible upon request. 

Vital records are not public records that can be viewed by anyone, but the subject(s) of the record and authorized family members can view them in-person or order copies through a number of means. Additionally, one or more vital records may be required to complete a background check. 

The Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics enlists the services of the third-party vendor Vital Chek to enable individuals to order copies of vital records online. The government-endorsed service offers vital records from 50 U.S. states and territories. 

Available vital records include: 

  • birth certificates
  • death certificates
  • marriage records
  • divorce records

Click here to place an order with Vital Chek

For more information, contact the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics at 617-740-2600

How do I search for a person’s sex offender status in Massachusetts?

Those convicted of sex-related crimes or certain crimes against children in Massachusetts are required by law to register as sex offenders. Additionally, offenders in the registry are required to notify law enforcement as soon as possible in the case of a physical address change or email address change, or they will be labeled “non-compliant”.

The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board makes the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry available online to the general public in the interest of public safety. Users may search by name, city, area, or email address/internet name. However, certain low-risk offenders may not be viewable in the online database.

Click here to perform a search of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry. It’s important to stay informed about potential threats in your neighborhood in order to take the necessary precautions. 

How do I perform a credit history background check in Massachusetts?

Performing a credit check in Massachusetts follows the same process as in other states. A federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants every American one free annual credit report each from the three main U.S. credit bureaus:

In order to obtain your free credit report from one of these three bureaus, you must provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth 
  • Social security number