Sample FOIA Request

Here is an example of a FOIA request from A Citizen's Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records, published by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 2005. Dear FOIA Officer: This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I request that a copy of the following documents [or documents containing the following information] be provided to me: [Identify the documents or information as specifically as possible.] In order to help to determine my status for purposes of determining the applicability of any fees, you should know that I am [insert a suitable description of the requester and purpose of the request]. [Examples:
  • A representative of the news media affiliated with the ____newspaper, magazine, television station, etc., and this request is made as part of news gathering and not for a commercial use.
  • Affiliated with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, and this request is made for a scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a commercial use.
  • An individual seeking information for personal use and not for a commercial use.
  • Affiliated with a private corporation and am seeking information for use in the company's business.]
[Optional] I am willing to pay fees for this request up to a maximum of $____. If you estimate that the fees will exceed this limit, please inform me first. [Optional] I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. [Include specific details, including how the requested information will be disseminated by the requester for public benefit. Failure to include such details may result in a denial of a fee waiver.] [Optional] I request that the information I seek be provided in electronic format, and I would like to receive it on a CD-ROM [or via email] . [You may receive your request in either paper or, if available, electronic format. Please specify theprecise format you prefer.] [Optional] I ask that my request receive expedited processing because ________________. [Include specific details regarding your "compelling need" and specifics concerning your "urgency to inform the public."] [Optional] I have included a telephone number at which I can be contacted during the hours of ______, if necessary, to discuss any aspect of my request. Thank you for your consideration of this request. Name Address City, State, Zip Code Telephone number [Optional] Fax number [Optional] Email [Optional]