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Frequently Asked Questions

Records Management's Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a copy of any record from the County Records Center?

I see that the County Records Center now accepts passport applications. Will I be able to get all of the records I need from the Records Center when I come in to get my passport processed?

Where do I get a copy of my birth certificate? Where can I get a copy of my child's birth certificate?

Where do I get a copy of a death certificate?

How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate, or apply for a Marriage License in Clackamas County?

How do I get a copy of my divorce papers?

Where can I get my property tax record? Where do I get information about property taxes?

Where can I get a copy of my building permit or plans? Where can I get information about applying for a building permit?

Where can I get a copy of my parent's probate record?

Where can I get a copy of my adoption record?

Where can I get a copy of a traffic citation I received a few years ago?

What is a public record?

What is a public records request?

How should a public records request be made?

Who do I contact to request a public record?

How do I request a public record?

Why do I need to fill out the public records request form?

How much will a public records request cost?

Why do I have to pay a fee?

How does Clackamas County calculate its charges for employee time spent working on a request?

Will I be given a cost estimate?

If the estimated charges exceed $25.00 could I be required to pay in advance?

Section II (I) of the County public records policy refers to review of public records.  What does that mean?

The Clackamas County Policy and Procedure for Public Records Requests states that the County will respond to my written request “as soon as practicable and without unreasonable delay.”  What does this mean? What if I want the records today?

What happens if you can’t find all of the records I want?  Do I still need to pay?

I made my request but the office is saying that I need to go to another office to make the same request.  Why do I have to make my request in more than one place?

The office said that the records I wanted were not available or that some of the information is exempt.  What do I do now?

I have an ongoing interest in a particular set of records.  May I submit one request and be notified whenever there is an update or new records are available?

Can I ask to inspect the records rather than receive copies?

If I make a request for the records of an elected official, do any different rules apply?

In cases of records pertaining to other than an elected official, what recourse do I have my request for copies or inspection is denied?

Can I get a copy of any record from the County Records Center?
No, not directly. The County Records Center is an internal service provider to County departments and divisions; record requests must be made through the appropriate department that creates and maintains the record. Typically, only inactive records are stored at the County Records Center. If the record you are looking for is stored at the Records Center, the responsible department will request a retrieval and the record will be sent to the department*. Also note that some records are exempt from disclosure to the general public, according to the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 192.501 and 502 The department that you are requesting the record from will inform you if it is open for public viewing or not.top

I see that the County Records Center now accepts passport applications. Will I be able to get all of the records I need from the Records Center when I come in to get my passport processed?
Please refer to the FAQ answer above, and other FAQ questions/answers for information on this. Also, refer to the Passport page for specific passport information. top

Where do I get a copy of my birth certificate? Where can I get a copy of my child's birth certificate?
The Clackamas County Registrar provides copies of birth certificates. Certified copies and abstracts are available for up to six months after the event. There is a fee for this service. Call (503) 655-8406 for more information*.

The State of Oregon maintains the birth records after the age of two weeks. Information* can be found from:

Oregon Health Division
Center for Health Statistics
(and Vital Records)
800 NE Oregon St
Portland, OR 97232
(971) 673-1190

If you were born in another state, please contact that state for requesting procedures. top

Where do I get a copy of a death certificate?
The Clackamas County Registrar provides copies of death certificates. Certified copies and abstracts are
available for up to six months after the event. There is a fee for this service. Call (503) 655-8406 for more information*.

Death certificates are available through the Oregon State Vital Records Office*

Oregon Health Division
Center for Health Statistics
(and Vital Records)
800 NE Oregon St
Portland, OR 97232
(971) 673-1190

How do I get a copy of my marriage certificate, or apply for a Marriage License in Clackamas County?
See the information posted on the Clackamas County Recording Division Web site.

Marriage certificate copies are available from the Clackamas County Recording Division of the Office of the County Clerk.

Clackamas County Clerk
Recording Division
2051 Kaen Road, 2nd Floor
Oregon City OR 97045
Main Number: 503-655-8661
Fax: 503-650-5688
Marriage: 503-655-8659

The Oregon Health Division, Center for Health Statistics (and Vital Records) can provide you with a summary of a marriage record. (Records go back to 1906). top

How do I get a copy of my divorce papers?
Please refer to the Clackamas County Circuit Court website using the following link:  http://courts.oregon.gov/Clackamas/docs/where_are_the_files.pdf to determine if your file is at the Court or needs to be ordered from Off Site Storage.  Requests for files from off-site should be made 48 hours in advance of the date needed to allow for retrieval. top

Where can I get my property tax record? Where do I get information about property taxes?
Assessment and tax information can be obtained from the County Assessor's Office:

150 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 655-8671
(503) 655-8313 (FAX)

You can also e-mail questions to: propertytaxinfo@co.clackamas.or.ustop

Where can I get a copy of my building permit or plans? Where can I get information about applying for a building permit?
Information about building permits, other kinds of permits, and copies of records can be obtained from the Department of Transportation and Development, Building Services Division, located at the Sunnybrook Service Center.

Department of Transportation and Development
Building Services Division
150 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
(503) 353- 4400
(503) 353-4273 (FAX)

Where can I get a copy of my parent's probate record?
Please refer to the Clackamas County Circuit Court website using the following link:  http://courts.oregon.gov/Clackamas/docs/where_are_the_files.pdf to determine if your file is at the Court or needs to be ordered from Off Site Storage.  Requests for files from off-site should be made 48 hours in advance of the date needed to allow for retrieval. top

Where can I get a copy of my adoption record?
Please refer to the Clackamas County Circuit Court website using the following link:  http://courts.oregon.gov/Clackamas/docs/where_are_the_files.pdf to determine if your file is at the Court or needs to be ordered from Off Site Storage.  Requests for files from off-site should be made 48 hours in advance of the date needed to allow for retrieval.top

Where can I get a copy of a traffic citation I received a few years ago?
Please refer to the Clackamas County Circuit Court website using the following link:  http://courts.oregon.gov/Clackamas/docs/where_are_the_files.pdf to determine if your file is at the Court or needs to be ordered from Off Site Storage.  Requests for files from off-site should be made 48 hours in advance of the date needed to allow for retrieval. top

*There may be restrictions regarding access.

Question: What is a public record?

Answer: A public record “includes any writing that contains information relating to the conduct of the public’s business…prepared, owned, used or retained by a public body regardless of physical form or characteristics.” ORS 192.410(4)(a). "Writing" means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photographing and every means of recording, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, files, facsimiles or electronic recordings. ORS 192.410(6). top

Question: What is a public records request?

Answer: Under ORS 192.420 “every person” has a right to inspect any nonexempt public record of a public body in Oregon. This right extends to any natural person, any corporation, partnership, firm or association, and any member of a committee of the Legislative Assembly. ORS 192.410(2). Generally, the motive and need of the person requesting access to public records are irrelevant. However, the identity and motive of the person seeking disclosure of a particular record may be relevant in determining whether a record is exempt from disclosure under a conditional exemption. top

Question: How should a public records request be made?

Answer: Requests may be made in writing, by phone, in person, fax, or email. Recent legislative amendments to the public record laws require a response from the public body when it receives a written request. A written request form has been developed for this purpose, which is available to the public on the County internet website. Although use of the form is not required in all cases, its use will expedite the records request process by providing you with clear information regarding what items are being requested. top

Question: Who do I contact to request a public record?

Answer: Clackamas County has prepared a Public Records Contact List. This document lists the names and addresses of persons to whom public records requests may be sent for the various County departments. You can also obtain this information by contacting the County department that may have the records you are seeking. top

Question: How do I request a public record?

Answer: You may fill out the Public Records Request Form. You may mail, email, or deliver your request to the appropriate public records contact person for the department which may have the records. You may also contact that person to discuss your request.top

Question: Why do I need to fill out the public records request form?

Answer: To streamline the public records request process, Clackamas County has created a standard form. Using this form will guide your request and make sure County Departments receive your contact information and a clear, written request.

In some cases, a particular County Department may choose to have you use a more specific form that is suitable to their internal purposes; or, if you have a straightforward request, an office may forgo requiring a form. If you make a request in person and you receive an immediate response to your request the use of forms may not be necessary, other than a receipt for payment of costs. top

Question: How much will a public records request cost?

Answer: The cost of your request is dependant upon several factors: (1) the types of records you are requesting, (2) the complexity of your request, and (3) the amount of staff/research time required to locate the information. Costs could range anywhere from no charge for a single page document to up to thousands of dollars for an extensive search of certain records. The general per-page fee is $1.00 for the first page, and .10 for each additional page, although some departments have their own fees. Further information on the costs of obtaining records can be found in the Clackamas County Public Records Policy or from any County department. The county has a fee schedule, which includes fees charged by various departments for documents.

Question: Why do I have to pay a fee?

Answer: Oregon’s Public Records Law expressly authorizes public bodies like Clackamas County to establish fees reasonably calculated to reimburse them for their actual costs of making public records available. Actual costs include paper or other media and mailing expenses, as well as time spent locating, reviewing, redacting, copying, and/or supervising a person’s inspection of original records. Actual costs also may include time spent by a County attorney in reviewing, redacting materials from the public records, or segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records. ORS 192.440(4)(b).top

Question: How does Clackamas County calculate its charges for employee time spent working on a request?

Answer: Staff time charges are composed of the employee’s base hourly rate plus an average tax and benefit cost. The average tax and benefit cost for a fulltime employee is 57% above base hourly pay. The average tax and benefit cost for a part time or temporary worker is 30%. Employee charges will be calculated by adding up the time spent by the employee working on the request, and then multiplying that number by the employee’s hourly rate and tax and benefit percentage. top

Question: Will I be given a cost estimate?

Answer: If fees are expected to exceed $25.00 you will be given a written cost estimate soon after you make your request. ORS 192.440(4)(c).top

Question: If the estimated charges exceed $25.00 could I be required to pay in advance?

Answer: Yes, the law allows the County to require prepayment of the estimated charges before taking further action on a request. It the prepayment exceeds the actual costs the County will refund the difference. If the estimate turns out to be too low, the balance would need to be paid before the public records are inspected or copies are released. top

Question: Section II (I) of the County public records policy refers to review of public records. What does that mean?

Answer: It is not always necessary to make copies of a record. A person making a public records request also has the right to look at public records. Inspecting records may reduce costs if, by reviewing the records, the requester is able to better pinpoint what copies are really needed, or is satisfied with simply reading the records. Clackamas County is committed to using sustainable practices and tries to make copies only when necessary. Please note that the law does exempt some records or information from being inspected or copied. If you request information that is in this category you will be notified. Also, the custodian may impose reasonable security and/or administrative limitations on a records inspection in order to ensure protection of the records, and to minimize disruptions in the workplace. top

Question: The Clackamas County Policy and Procedure for Public Records Requests states that the County will respond to my written request “as soon as practicable and without unreasonable delay.” What does this mean? What if I want the records today?

Answer: In many cases, a department will be able to accommodate your request the same day. In other cases, the County will attempt to process your request within five working days; however, some requests are more complicated and may require research, additional staff time, or may take time to gather and copy. The office may need time to review your request to determine what is needed to get you the information you seek. If this is the case, the department will assess your request and provide you a time and cost estimate. You can assist this process by being as specific as possible when you make your request.top

Question: What happens if you can’t find all of the records I want? Do I still need to pay?

Answer: Depending on the complexity of your request and the time spent by the office searching for your records, the department may choose to charge you for the actual time they spent searching. You can assist the process by being as specific as possible when you make your request.top

Question: I made my request but the office is saying that I need to go to another office to make the same request. Why do I have to make my request in more than one place?

Answer: There are many departments in the County and sometimes they share aspects of responsibility, but maintain separate records. In these cases, it may be necessary to request information from more than one office in order to fulfill your request.

If you are referred to another department, consult the Clackamas County Public Records Contact List for the name of the records contact person within that department. Additionally, ask for a copy of your request form so that you won’t need to fill out the same form twice.top

Question: The office said that the records I wanted were not available or that some of the information is exempt. What do I do now?

Answer: The State of Oregon requires all government agencies to provide an index to the type of records they create or manage. This index also includes how long the records need to be legally maintained. This index is called a Records Retention Schedule and can be found online on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_100/OAR_166/166_150.html. It is always helpful to review this list before making your request because it may assist you in making the request to the right office and may indicate whether the records you seek are still available.

If a department tells you that your requested records are exempt and they cannot let you inspect or copy the information, they also need to tell you why and provide you with a citation to the relevant law exempting the disclosure. In some cases, it is possible to provide you with the records with protected information removed (redacted).top

Question: I have an ongoing interest in a particular set of records. May I submit one request and be notified whenever there is an update or new records are available?

Answer: No. A new request must be made each time.top

Question: Can I ask to inspect the records rather than receive copies?

Answer: Yes, the law not only requires a custodian to furnish copies, but also to furnish a “reasonable opportunity to inspect public records”. ORS 192.440(1)(b). It is permissible for a requester to view materials instead of asking for copies, or to first inspect the records to determine what, if any, copies are needed. However, the right to inspect is subject to reasonable limits: Original records must not be removed by any person from a department; an appropriate location within each office can be used for a record inspection that permits sufficient monitoring by the records custodian; the requester must not alter, mark, or make notes or comments on any records; any department may, in its discretion, furnish a copy of a record in lieu of allowing inspection of the original if it determines that it is necessary for the protection of the record or determines that the request would interfere with department duties. The right to inspect extends to allowing requesters to use their own equipment to make copies, subject to reasonable restrictions to protect the integrity of the records. Some records can be inspected but not copied, such as voter registration signatures.top

Question: If I make a request for the records of an elected official, do any different rules apply?

Answer: Yes. Under ORS 192.465(2), an elected official is required to deny, grant, or deny in part and grant in part, a request to inspect or receive a copy of a public records request within seven days from the day of receipt of the request. The failure to do so is treated as a denial of the request for the purpose of determining whether a person may institute proceedings for injunctive or declaratory relief. top

Question: In cases of records pertaining to other than an elected official, what recourse do I have my request for copies or inspection is denied?

Answer: In any case in which a person is refused an opportunity to inspect or receive copies of a record pertaining to other than an elected official, the requester may file a petition for disclosure with the District Attorney. If the District Attorney's order is adverse the County, the County can appeal to the Circuit Court. If the order is adverse to the petitioner, or is not complied with, the petitioner can appeal to the Circuit Court. ORS 192.460. top

If you would like additional information about public records, the Oregon Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual / State of Oregon Department of Justice is available in public libraries or may be ordered from the Attorney General’s Office.

An additional resource is A Quick Reference Guide to Oregon’s Public Records Law, which can be found on Open Oregon’s website: http://www.open-oregon.com/.

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