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What is FOIA?

The FOIA is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens informed about their government.

Under FOIA, agencies must disclose any information requested – unless such information is protected from public disclosure. The FOIA also requires agencies to automatically disclose certain information, including frequently requested records. As Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have recognized, FOIA is a vital part of our democracy.

Who can make a FOIA request?

The general rule is that anyone – citizen or not – can make a FOIA request. It’s easy to do. There is no specific form that must be used to submit an application.

The request must simply be in writing, reasonably describe the information you are seeking, and meet specific agency requirements.

Most federal agencies now accept FOIA requests electronically, including in an online form, by email, or by fax.

If you want records about yourself, you will need to provide proof of identity to protect your privacy and ensure that private information about you is not disclosed to another person.

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