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Background Checks in Rhode Island

Table of Contents

Need more information? Check out our guides to Rhode Island arrest records and Rhode Island public records.


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 Rhode Island?

Rhode Island does not provide an online criminal history search tool to the general public. However, individuals may request a criminal background check, which will include arrest and conviction records, in-person or through the mail from the RH Bureau of Criminal Identification. The fee is $5 per background check.

How to request a Rhode Island criminal background check in-person

Bring a valid government-issued photo ID and a form of payment to pay the $5 fee to the BCI window located at the following address during business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM):

Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson Customer Service Center

4 Howard Avenue

Cranston, RI 02920

How to request a Rhode Island criminal background check through the mail

  1. Complete, sign, and notarize a Background Check Request Form.
  2. Prepare a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID.
  3. Prepare a check or money order for $5 per background check payable to “BCI”
  4. Prepare a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.
  5. Mail the form, payment, copy of photo ID, and return envelope to

Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson Customer Service Center

4 Howard Avenue 

Cranston, RI 02920

Expect to wait seven business days for a response. 

What can I do if my Rhode Island criminal history record has incomplete or inaccurate information?

For information on how to correct a mistake on a Rhode Island arrest record or another aspect of your criminal record, call the Bureau of Criminal Identification at 401-274-4400.

If the issue is a case of mistaken identity, you will be required to submit a set of ten fingerprints to the BCI. 

How do I search for Rhode Island court records online?

Using the Rhode Island Judiciary Public Portal, individuals can:

  • Search for court records
  • Find the dates of upcoming hearings
  • Make payments towards court-mandated fines.

The Records Search component of the site is simple, allowing users to search by record number or name in “Last, First, Middle initial” format within the same search box. The site also gives the option of searching all Rhode Island courts or narrowing the search down to an individual court in the state.

Where can I find Rhode Island driving records online? 

The Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles allows residents to request a copy of their driving record online for a $20.50 fee. The certified driving record is delivered in PDF format, and you can download and print a copy. 

In order to order a Rhode Island driving record online, you will need the following:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Personal information, including last name, date of birth, and zip code
  • A major credit or debit card
  • A PDF reader

Click here to order a copy of your driving record. 

How do I look up Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island Department of Health, Vital Records 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 Rhode Island Department of Health at 401-222-5960.

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

Those convicted of sex-related crimes or certain crimes against children in Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island Parole Board & Sex Offender Community Notification Unit makes the Rhode Island Sex Offender Registry available online to the general public in the interest of public safety. Users may search by name, city, or area. However, certain low-risk offenders may not be viewable in the online database.

Click here to perform a search of the Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island?

Performing a credit check in Rhode Island 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