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The basic function of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure informed citizens, vital to the functioning of a democratic society.

This site can help you determine if filing a FOIA request is the best option for you and help you create your request when you’re ready.

Do research and determine if you need to make a FOIA request, then get ready.

Do research before
you request

Before making a request, first see if the information is already publicly available. You can find a lot of useful information on individual agency websites and you can also search across the government for information.

If the information you want is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request.

Identify the right
agency

It’s important that you identify the correct agency for your request. There are over 100 agencies and each is responsible for handling its own FOIA requests. You can find a breakdown of agencies by topic on USA.gov to help you identify the correct agency. You may also search for agencies using the search bar below.

What happens after you submit a request

The agency will typically first search for the records and then review them to determine what can be disclosed. While FOIA allows for many records to be released, there are also nine exemptions that protect certain types of information, such as personal privacy and law enforcement interests. The length of time to respond to your request will vary depending on its complexity and any backlog of requests.