North Dakota

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North Dakota

Statutory Citation: NDCC 44-04-18 et seq

Definition of Public Record

North Dakota law defines records as, “recorded information of any kind, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which the information is stored, recorded, or reproduced, which is in the possession or custody of a public entity or its agent and which has been received or prepared for use in connection with public business or contains information relating to public business.” 1

Exemptions to Public Records

Exempt: Juvenile records; trade secrets; public employee medical and assistance records; workers compensation; unemployment; tax information; law enforcement investigation records; and most Department of Human Services records. 2

Who Can Make The Request?


Response Timeframe

No timeframe is specified. 3

Information on Fees

A public entity can charge for providing records, and may require payment of any estimated charges before fulfilling an open record request. 4

Enforcement Mechanisms

Any interested person may request an attorney general’s opinion to review a written denial of a request for records. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1). If the attorney general issues a written opinion concluding that a violation has occurred, the public entity has seven days after the opinion is issued, regardless of whether a civil action is filed, to disclose the record. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(2). If the public entity fails to disclose the record within the seven-day period and the person requesting the opinion prevails in a civil action brought under N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.2, the requestor must be awarded costs, disbursements, and reasonable attorney’s fees in the action and on appeal. 5

Attorney Fees

You can win attorney’s fees along with damages. 6

Do You Want to Make a Public Records Request?

The public records process begins with a public records request. Our guide outlines best practices for drafting well-defined requests for public information.

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Questions? Contact the Goldwater Institute.

If you have any questions regarding this guide or your rights to public information, please contact the Goldwater Institute at to determine if the Institute can help you access information necessary to hold your government accountable.

Goldwater Institute