When authorities reply to requests they often use a template sections in their answers. Requesters, to an extent, can do the same when asking for information.

Making it as easy as possible for an authority to identify an FOI request will reduce the potential for initial delays. It is possible to show them you know your rights, without being patronising.

The following template for a request may be a useful starting point.

All requests should be tailored to the authority and the particular information. 

Dear [Authority name]

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information from [authority name/department]:

[Insert what is being asked for]

Please provide the information in the form [insert form to be received in]

If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under your Section 16 obligations, as to how I can refine my request to be included in the scope of the Act.

In any case, if you can identify ways that my request could be refined please provide further advice and assistance to indicate this.

I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as stipulated by the Act.

If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me via email or phone and I will be happy to clarify what I am asking for, my details are outlined below.

Best wishes,


Matt is a digital journalist, freelancer and has written a book on the Freedom of Information Act for journalists. He runs this site in his spare time aiming to help raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act and its uses. He can be found tweeting @mattburgess1.


  1. Would you please write a more friendly request that shows appreciation and respect to the person that you are contacting.

    Please be proactive in saying please and thank you and not so officious.

    The people that you are sending the requests to know what is expected but do not appreciate the way that these requests are written.

    Thanking you in anticipation of taking these observations on board and amending the template.

    I do not want best wishes I want a thank you.

  2. “contact me via email or phone” – the phone number is not provided. Also it might be useful to provide email address in the text of the request itself. The request may be copied/pasted, printed etc., so sender’s email address may be missing when the person who actually deals with the request will read it.

What're you thinking?