Is it Legal to Record a Phone Call?

Is it legal to record a phone call

This might be the first question in your mind before you actually go ahead and record phone calls. In this article we will discuss about the legality of recording phone calls in the United States of America only (for civilian cases). We will leave out the topic of  eavesdropping. If you are going to be a party to a recorded telephone conversation, you will find this article helpful.

We should tell you that we are not lawyers. If you want a truly definitive answer, ask a lawyer in your state. We will interpret the laws regarding recording telephone conversations and put it in a plain, easy-to-understand way.

The legality of recording phone conversations depends upon the location of the caller and call recipient. In many states, it is legal to record a telephone conversation in which one party to the conversation has given their consent. So, if you want to record one of your outgoing telephone calls, and as you are party to the conversation, then this stipulation is automatically met. However, a few states in the US require all parties involved to consent before recording a call. These states include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii*
  • Illinois**
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

* Hawaii is in general a one-party consent state, but requires two-party consent if the recording device is installed in a private place.

**Laws regarding recording a phone call in Illinois are debatable and hence as a matter of caution, you can treat it as a two part consent state

In the rest of the states, one party consent is considered to be enough to record phone calls. In addition, please note that if the caller is from a one-party consent state and he is calling someone in a state which mandates two-party consent, the stricter of the laws applies and hence you must have consent from all callers. If you want to research further on this topic of recording telephone conversations, you may find the following articles helpful: