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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the law that allows individuals to gain access to federal records. Some records may be withheld or partially withheld if the information falls under one, or more, of nine exemptions and three exclusions.
Learn more: FOIA.gov | U.S. Code section enacting FOIA (PDF) | Information on nine exemptions and three exclusions
Read our user guide (PDF).
Agencies participating as of October 1, 2012:
Please note: At this time, only certain portions of these participating agencies (e.g. DOC, NARA, DOJ, and DOD) have implemented FOIAonline.
Yes. FOIAonline offers partners the ability to post responsive documents. Posted records are then available for the public.
FOIAonline conforms to section 508 requirements. Each participating agency is responsible for ensuring documents posted are section 508 compliant.
FOIAonline is a multi-agency web-application that enables the public to submit FOIA requests to participating agencies, track the progress of an agency's response to a request, search for information previously made available, and generate up-to-the-minute reports on FOIA processing. FOIAonline also is a multi-agency workflow system and repository that enables partner agencies to receive, manage, track, and respond to FOIA requests, generate reports including the annual FOIA report that is submitted to the Department of Justice, communicate with requestors, and manage their FOIA case files as electronic records.
FOIA.gov is a government-wide FOIA resource and a flagship initiative of the Department of Justice's Open Government plan. On this website, the public will have access to all the FOIA data collected by the Department of Justice and will be able to view the data graphically and generate reports. Additionally, the website contains information to educate the public about how the FOIA works, spotlights significant FOIA releases and explains how to make FOIA requests to federal agencies.
There is no fee to file a FOIA request. FOIA established four fee categories that agencies use to determine if fees will be charged: (1) commercial requesters may be charged fees for searching for records, reviewing the records, and photocopying them; (2) (3) news media, educational or noncommercial scientific institutions are charged for photocopying, after the first 100 pages; (4) all other requesters (requesters who do not fall into any of the other three categories) are charged for photocopying after 100 pages and for time spent searching for records in excess of two hours. In the event that fees are incurred beyond what you are entitled to for free, please indicate a specific amount that you are willing to pay. If you do not indicate another amount in FOIAonline, please be advised that some agency regulations provide that making a FOIA request represents an agreement to pay fees up to $25 (See Agency specific regulations from the links on the main page).
You can file a request, run reports, and search for records (note that information you can search varies by agency). A registered user can also file appeals using FOIAonline.
The information you can search varies by agency according to their FOIA policies. You may search for requests, appeals and records released in response to a request. All agencies provide "day forward information", i.e., information on requests and/or appeals received on or after October 1, 2012 when FOIAonline was launched. If you wish to obtain information from participating agencies that is not available here, please contact the participating agency or submit a FOIA request through FOIAonline.
Yes, the pull-down menu listing agencies include all participating agencies.
We will send you by email a link to the responsive records available through the FOIAonline system. We will send you multiple messages in the case of interim responses. If you have not registered and have not provided an email address to us, we will mail the response to the physical address you provided in your request.
The records will be available for review for the length of the records retention schedule. Generally, all participating agencies in FOIAonline follow the same approved record schedules of six years for all other responses.
Yes - The Annual FOIA Report submitted and cleared by the Department of Justice is based on fiscal year reporting metrics for an entire reporting agency. The reports that can be generated by the public on FOIAonline may not include the full fiscal year reporting statistics or represent an entire agency's FOIA activities. In some cases, only a portion of an agency may be using FOIAonline. Therefore, it is not possible to generate agency-wide totals for certain agencies that have not fully implemented FOIA.
FOIAonline provides participating agencies with the ability to post responsive documents for public access. Agencies may determine that certain responsive documents should not be released to the general public because they contain sensitive information (e.g., personal identifiable information), and therefore, the agency does not make it available on FOIAonline. Requesters may also ask that their records be provided through an alternative means, and the responding agency may make the determination that posting on FOIAonline would be of limited benefit. There may be other reasons why an agency chooses to not make a particular release available through FOIAonline such as the availability of resources. Records that are being withheld by an agency pursuant to a FOIA exemption are also not available in FOIAonline.
Yes; based on added security precautions, FOIAonline will only accept the following file types:
In most cases, file types excluded are older versions and can easily be converted with newer software versions, or converted to a pdf file.
Select "yes" in the fee waiver section of the "New Request" page to make a request. To grant the waiver, a participating agency may require additional information based on that agency's regulations.
Select "yes" in the expedited processing section of the "New Request" page to make a request.
You can add a description of your request in the "Description" field of the "New Request" page. Descriptions are limited to 2,000 characters. You can also attach documents and files in any format. Lengthy descriptions should be uploaded as an attachment when you submit your request.
Once you have successfully submitted your request, you will receive an instant confirmation message with a tracking number and the status of your request within FOIAonline.
You can track your request by searching on the request number that we provide in your confirmation notice. If you have registered, you will be provided with a view of your requests once you log onto FOIAonline. Click on the desired request number for additional details.
If you have registered (created an account), you can amend your request through the online system. If you have not registered, you must contact the agency directly, independent of the online system.
Registered users can receive correspondence directly from the processing agency through the system and respond accordingly. If you have not registered, you must contact the agency directly, independent of the online system.
If you have registered, you can use the organization field in the contact section of the "Create Account" page to designate the client name. You should also include the person's name in the description of the request.
Select the Search function to review previously released records. Records that you are interested in may have already been released.
Only a registered user may file an appeal through FOIAonline. Use the "Appeal this FOIA Request" button on the left side of the Request Details screen. A user who has not registered must follow the agency's instructions on how to file an appeal available on each individual agency's website.
Contact the FOIAonline Help Desk by phone at 844-238-7744 (8:00am - 6:00pm ET, M-F) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may make a request to any federal agency. Each agency has their own instructions for submitting requests. These are available from each agency's FOIA web page, which are generally linked directly from their agency's home page. These instructions and links have also been collected and are available on FOIA.gov.
Agencies using FOIAonline make the determination to share a requester's name and organization if applicable. Otherwise FOIAonline does not share any personal information with the public. Information provided in the "Description" field of a request is reviewed by the processing agency and a decision is made whether to display it to the public or not based on what is provided or if the agency has a policy not to share it generally.
An agency must choose whether or not to release records on a document-by-document basis. Agencies may decide to make all records you have requested available to the public. They might also release records that contain sensitive information directly to you but not make them available to the public.