Virginia Public Records Act

The following are truncated and/or paraphrased sections of the Virginia Public Records Act. For the full text of the Act, click here.

The Virginia Public Records Act

The Virginia Public Records Act (VPRA) § 42.1-76 “…establishes a single body of law applicable to all public officers and employees to ensure that the procedures used to manage and preserve public records will be uniform throughout the commonwealth.”

Confidentiality of Certain Records

The VPRA § 42.1-78 states that "records made confidential by law shall be so treated. Records which by law are required to be closed to the public shall not be deemed to be made open to the public under the provisions of this chapter...No provision of this chapter shall be construed to authorize or require the opening of any records ordered to be sealed by a court. "

Rules for the Disposition of Public Records

§ 42.1-86.1 of the VPRA sets the rules under which records can be disposed (destroyed or preserved by an archival institution).  These rules include:

A. No agency shall sell or give away public records.  No agency shall destroy or discard a public record unless:

(i) the record appears on a records retention and disposition schedule approved pursuant to § 42.1-82 and the record's retention period has expired;

(ii) a certificate of records destruction, as designated by the Librarian of Virginia, has been properly completed and approved by the agency's designated records officer;

(iii) there is no litigation, audit, investigation, request for records pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.), or renegotiation of the relevant records retention and disposition schedule pending at the expiration of the retention period for the applicable record series. After a record is destroyed or discarded, the agency shall forward the original certificate of records destruction to The Library of Virginia.

B. No agency shall destroy any public record created before 1912 without first offering it to The Library of Virginia.

C. Each agency shall ensure that records created after July 1, 2006 and authorized to be destroyed or discarded in accordance with subsection A, are destroyed or discarded in a timely manner in accordance with the provisions of this chapter [defined by the Library of Virginia as one calendar year after retention has been met].  However, such records that contain identifying information as defined in clauses (iii) through (ix), or clause (xii) of subsection C of § 18.2-186.3, shall be destroyed within six months of the expiration of the records retention period [applies to records containing highly sensitive data such as SSNs, credit card numbers, etc.].