Freedom of Information Act Requests

The 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits any person to request access to Federal agency records. Federal agencies are required to disclose records upon receipt of a written request, except for those that are protected from disclosure by nine exemptions or three exclusions in the Act.

Before making a request, first look to see if the information you are interested in is already publicly available.  You can find a lot of useful information on a range of topics on each agency’s website.  You can also search for information agencies have already posted online here on

If the information you want is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request to the agency’s FOIA Office.  The request simply must be in writing and reasonably describe the records you seek.  Most federal agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, including by web form, e-mail or fax.  See the list of federal agencies for details about how to make a request to each agency and any specific requirements for seeking certain records.