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Washington Public Records

Title 42 Chapter 42.56 RCW  (the Washington State Public Records Act) was created to provide for the protection and public access to government records kept, gathered and maintained by the state of Washington for the purpose of carrying out its duties. In the law, 'public record' is defined as "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics. For the legislature, 'public records' means "legislative records as defined in RCW 40.14.100. This includes all budget and financial records; personnel leave, travel, and payroll records; records of legislative sessions; reports submitted to the legislature; and any other record designated a public record by any official action of the senate or the house of representatives."

Exceptions:

Records are generally not considered public when their disclosure might  1) lead to an invasion of personal privacy, 2) hinder an active or open investigation, 3) endanger the public safety, 4) obstruct the regular function or operation of government, or 5) disclose proprietary corporate information that might lead to an unfair advantage.  For a simplified list of what types of information is protected, click here.

Aside from defining public and protected records, the law also mandates that each agency assign a Public Records Officer.  It also mandates that requests must be responded to within 5 business days of receiving the request as well as provides options of action for a denied request.  The Office of the Attorney General has provided a concise summary of how to obtain public records and what the recourse is for denied requests.

Washington Government Info

Washington State Agency List

Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Building 2nd Floor, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia
P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560
Phone: (360) 902-1800 | Fax (360) 902-2092 | Public Information Officer: (360) 902-1813

Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation
1063 S. Capitol Way Suite 106, Olympia WA 98501
PO Box 48343, Olympia, WA 98504-8343
Phone: (360) 586-3065 | Fax: (360) 586-3067

Public Records Officer: 
Public Disclosure, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
PO Box 48343, Olympia, WA 98504-8343
Phone:  (360) 586-3070 | Fax: (360) 586-3067

Attorney General, Office of the
1125 Washington Street SE | PO Box 40100 | Olympia WA 98504-0100
Phone:  (360) 753-6200

  • Consumer Protection:
    • Bellingham
      103 E. Holly Suite 308, Bellingham, WA 98225
    • Seattle
      800 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle WA 98104-3188
    • Vancouver
      1220 Main St Suite 549, Vancouver WA 98660-2964
    • Consumer Protection Call Centers:
      (
      800) 551-4636 (in-state) | (206) 464-6684 (out-of-state)
      (800) 833-6384 (for the hearing impaired)
  • Directory of Office Locations
  • Public Records Requests:
    • Public Records Unit
      Office of the Attorney General
      PO Box 40100, Olympia, WA 98504-0100
      Phone: (360) 586-3568 | Fax: (360) 586-7671
    • Records Requests for Consumer Complaints Only:
      Public Records/ Consumer Complaints
      800 5th Avenue Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104
      Phone: (206) 389-3994
  • Search Opinions

Department of Corrections
7345 Linderson Way SW, Tumwater WA 98501-6504
PO Box 41100-Mail Stop 41100, Olympia WA 98504-1100
Phone: (360) 725-8213

Department of Ecology
300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey, WA 98503
PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Phone: (360) 407-6000 | Fax: (360) 407-6989p

Department of Fish and Wildlife
Natural Resources Building/ 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501
Mail: 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091
Phone: (360) 902-2200 Fax: (360) 902-2156

Governor, Office of the
416 Sid Snyder Ave SW, Suite 200, Olympia, WA
PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-00022
Phone: (360) 902-4111 | Fax: (360) 753-4110

Department of Health
101 Israel Road SE, Tumwater, WA 98501
PO BOX 47890, Olympia, WA 98504-7890
Phone: (360) 236-4030

State History Museum
Washington State Historical Society
1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
Business: (253) 272-3500 | Information: (253) 272-9747 | Fax: (253) 272-9518

Legislature, State

Library, State
Point Plaza East 6880 Capitol Blvd., Tumwater, WA 98504-2460
PO Box 42460, Olympia, WA 98504-24600
Phone: (360) 704-5200 | Circulation: (360) 704-5213 | Reference: (360) 704-5221p

Washington State Archives
1129 Washington Street SE Olympia
PO Box 40238, Olympia, WA 98504-0238
Phone: (360) 586-1492

  • Southwest Regional Branch
    1129 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA
    PO Box 40238, Olympia, WA 98504-0238
    Phone: (360) 586-1492
  • Central Regional Branch
    Bledsoe-Washington Archive Building/ Central Washington University, 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg
    MAIL STOP 7547 Ellensburg ,WA 98926-75477
    Phone: (509) 963-2136
  • Eastern Regional Branch
    960 Washington Street/ Eastern Washington University
    Cheney, WA 99004
    Phone: (509) 235-7508
  • Northwest Regional Branch
    Goltz-Murray Building/ Western Washington University
    808 25th Street, Bellingham
    MAIL STOP 9123, Bellingham, WA 98225
    Phone: (360) 650-3125
  • Puget Sound Regional Branch
    Pritchard-Fleming Building/ Bellevue Community College
    3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue
    MAIL STOP N100, Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
    Phone: (425) 564-3940
  • Records Center
    7590 New Market Street SW
    PO Box 40239, Tumwater, WA 98504-0239
    Phone: (360) 753-5468

Department of Licensing

Office of Lieutenant Governor
Phone: (360) 786-7700 | Fax: (360) 786-7749

Department of Natural Resources
1111 Washington Street SE
PO Box 47000, Olympia, WA 98504-7000
Phone: (360) 902-1000

Secretary of State, Office of the
Legislative Building
PO Box 40220, Olympia WA 98504-0220
Phone: (360) 902-4151

Other Resources

Land Records Maintained by the Washington State Library

Unclaimed Property Search

Washington State Police  (Emergency Dial 911)