Once you’ve decided what you’re going to ask a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act, and you’ve researched that the information isn’t already in the public domain it’s time to make your request.
If you’re looking for a particular authority you can search our Freedom of Information Directory for the authority, or type their name in the search bar to the right of this page.
Is it going to cost me anything?
Requests under the act are free but may be liable to a charge if you require multiple paper copies of information.
How should I make the request?
There are several ways you can make the request, although it is best to make it in a written format:
- Via post (a good method if you’re in no rush and like to keep paper records)
- Telephone call (accepted by some authorities – if doing so then you should make a record of when you called and what you asked for in case this is needed later).
What do I include in my request?
For the request to be valid you have to include your name and an address where you can be contacted. This doesn’t have to be a physical postal address it can be an email address.
There are no set rules for how to write a Freedom of Information request but it’s wise to be polite and clearly set out the information, which you wish to receive under the act as this will help the authority to find it for you.
It’s always helpful to set out that you’re asking for information under the Freedom of Information Act in case your request is going to a general contact address for that authority, as then they will be able to pass it onto the relevant person.
How do I receive the information?
You also have the right to decide how you will receive the information. You can receive it in electronic format, paper copies, braille, audio format, or large print depending on your needs.
In some cases the information may only be viewable by attending the authority and viewing it in person i.e. for documents which can not be copied.
I’ve sent my request, now what?
Sit back and wait. The organisation now has 20 working days (a month) to respond to your FOI request.
Don’t get too excited if when emailing you receive a reply straight away, a lot of the authorities have an autoresponse on their inboxes. You may also hear back from the authority shortly acknowledging your request and saying they are considering your request and will respond when they have done so.