PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS
If you are seeking copies of birth, death, or marriage certificates, these are available from the Office of Vital Statistics – 401-421-7740 ext. 701.
Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws § 38-2-3(d), the City of Providence hereby adopts the following procedure for requesting/obtaining access to public records:
1. In an effort to provide greater transparency and easier access to records maintained by the City of Providence, the City has established an Open Records Portal, whereby requests for records and responses to those requests are publicly available. While the substance of all requests will be publicly available, the identity and contact information of the requester will not be publicly available. However, such information may become publicly available, as it is subject to the Access to Public Records Act. Requests for records may be made through the portal at: openrecords.providenceri.gov.
2. If you do not wish to submit a request for records through the City’s Open Records Portal, a request to inspect and/or copy public records of the City of Providence can be made by either:
a) submitting a written request via mail to:
Public Records Unit
c/o City of Providence Law Department
444 Westminster Street, Suite 220
Providence, RI 02903
b) placing your written request, addressed to “Public Records Unit, City of Providence, c/o Law Department” into the drop-box located at the Greene Street entrance of 444 Westminster Street.
Such requests will be received pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-3(e) during normal business hours.
Please be advised that requests for records that are not submitted through the Open Records Portal will be added to the Open Records Portal by a member of the Public Records Unit for the City of Providence.
If you choose to submit your request anonymously to the City (refusing to provide your name and/or or a means to contact you, i.e. email, phone number, etc.), your request will be posted with a response on our Open Records Portal consistent with the APRA.
Records will no longer be held indefinitely for anonymous requesters for “pick-up” at any date or time the requester chooses. However, if contact information is provided, a date and time for “inspection” or “copying” may be scheduled at “such reasonable time as may be determined” by the City pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-3(a).
If an email is provided by an anonymous requester, an account will be created on our Public Records Portal for that requester, and responses to requests for records will be transmitted through that medium.
3. The Access to Public Records Act allows a public body ten (10) business days to respond, unless otherwise extended for good cause in accordance with the provisions of subsection 38-2-3(e).
4. If, after review of your request, the City determines that the requested records are exempt from disclosure for a reason set forth in Rhode Island General Laws § 38-2-2(4)(A) through (AA), the City will provide you with the specific reasons for the denial of your request in writing. In accordance with Rhode Island General Laws § 38-2-8, you may wish to appeal the City’s decision to the chief administrative officer of the department that maintains the records you seek. You may also wish to file a complaint with the Department of the Attorney General or the Rhode Island Superior Court.
5. In accordance with Rhode Island General Laws § 38-2-4, the City may charge a fee of fifteen cents ($.15) per page for copies and/or fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour, after the first hour, for search and/or retrieval of documents. Please advise that for purposes of search and retrieval costs, multiple requests made by you, or your entity, within thirty (30) days to the City of Providence shall be considered one (1) request.
6. The City of Providence is not obligated to produce for inspection or copying records that are not in the possession of the City of Providence. Moreover, the City of Providence is not required to reorganize, consolidate, or compile data that is not maintained by the City of Providence in the form requested.
7. The above-described procedure is the means by which any member of the public must submit a request for records from any City Department explicitly including the Providence Police Department, the Providence Fire Department, and the Providence School Department. Requests submitted outside of the above-procedure cannot be accepted. Requests submitted by fax or email cannot be accepted. Requests submitted directly to the City’s departments or department directors, cannot be accepted.
The City of Providence is committed to providing access to public records in an expeditious and courteous manner consistent with the Access to Public Records Act.PVD Open Records Portal