Background checks, sometimes known as records checks or criminal history checks, are available to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and the general public.
- Law enforcement organizations – may receive all criminal history information that is available in Montana and across the nation, as long as the information is requested for criminal justice purposes.
- General public – may receive arrest and prosecutor/court information on felony charges and misdemeanor charges, but information is limited by Montana’s privacy laws. Criminal records that have been deferred and later dismissed cannot be released to the public.
Background Check Fees
Effective March 1, 2016, the fee for name-based criminal record background checks will increase by $1.50.
The Montana Department of Justice – Criminal Records and Identification Services Section charges between $10.00 and $27.25 for a Public Criminal Records Background Check. The fee is determined by the type and extent of the requested background check (see below for different types).
A revised fee schedule can be found here.
Certain information may be available from local law enforcement and other agencies but is not available from Montana Criminal Records. For example, requests for police reports, court transcripts, warrant information and probation/parole information should be directed to the appropriate local law enforcement agency or court.
A background check includes only criminal history information. It does not include, for example, consumer credit or immigration status information. It includes driving-related information only as it relates to felony arrests. Driving records are available through the Motor Vehicle Division.
Types of Background Checks
There are two types of background checks:
- Name-based checks – a search of Montana public criminal history record information only, using an individual’s name, date of birth and Social Security number.
- Fingerprint checks – accurate, comprehensive information, including access to criminal history information in Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Federal fingerprint-based criminal record checks are available to those statutorily authorized to request them.
Online Name-Based Requests
For the general public:
- Go to Criminal History Online Public Record Search and click on the Public Users “Start Service” button.
- To search, you must submit the individual’s complete name and complete date of birth. Social Security numbers are optional but are encouraged as they allow a more thorough search. Up to four alias names may be included in the search without further cost. You must also enter your name in order to comply with Section 44-5-215 of the Montana Code Annotated.
- You may pay the $13.00 fee for each record search by credit card or eCheck.
For registered users:
- Go to Criminal History Online Public Record Search and click on the Registered Users “Start Service” button.
- Enter your username and password.
- You will receive monthly bills that you may choose to pay by credit card, electronic payment or invoice.
To become a registered user, go to Criminal History Online Public Record Search and click the “Become a Registered User” button.
Mail-In Name-Based Checks
Mail-in requests for name-based background checks should include:
- the name of the person being checked and, if possible, any aliases, nicknames, or maiden names
- the person’s date of birth
- his or her Social Security number
- a self-addressed, stamped envelope
- the $11.50 processing fee for each individual to be checked, paid by check or money order (U.S. Funds please)
- Mail the complete request to Montana Criminal Records.
Mail-In Fingerprint Checks (Non-Federal, State only)
Requests for background checks based on fingerprint cards must be submitted by mail or in person.
- The requester must include an applicant fingerprint card. Blank cards are available from local law enforcement offices or from Montana Criminal Records.
- Be sure the following information is completed on the applicant fingerprint card. (All highlighted sections shown in the example fingerprint card below should be completed.)
- Signatures from both the individual and the official taking the fingerprints
- Subject’s name, printed clearly in the name field. Enter in the order of Last Name, First Name, Middle Name
- Date of Birth
- Social Security number
- Aliases, Maiden name, and any other names used previously
- All personal identification (Citizenship, Sex, Race, Height, Weight, Eye Color, Hair Color, Place of Birth)
- In the Employer and Address field, enter the name and address of the person or business to which the results of the background check should be sent
- In the Reason Fingerprinted box, enter “State Only / WIN background check.”
- a self-addressed stamped envelope
- the $10.00 processing fee for each individual to be checked, paid by check or money order (U.S. funds please).
- Mail the complete request to Montana Criminal Records.
- please do not staple or fold the fingerprint card.
In Person Requests
Individuals may also choose to make their requests for background checks in person. The Montana Department of Justice – Criminal Records and Identification Services Section is available to the public at the following location and times:
2225 11th Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Monday thru Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Some of the services provided for walk in customers include:
- Name-based background checks
- Fingerprint-based background checks
- Fingerprinting services
- Criminal record review and/or challenges
- Record removal/expungement requests
Montana Criminal Records
P.O. Box 201403
Helena, MT 59620-1403
Phone: (406) 444-3625
Fax: (406) 444-0689