The FOIA Process

The FOIA process is generally as follows:

1. Write a FOIA request. Click here to download FOIA Templates.

2. Fax, mail, or email your request to the agency. Contact information is available on the agency FOIA website.

3. You will usually receive acknowledgment from the agency in 1-4 weeks.

4. The agency may contact you in order to ‘perfect’ your request. There could be issues to resolve such as your fee status or the scope of your request.

5. The Agency will either:
a) Release documents in full.
b) Release documents in part.
c) Withhold documents in full.
d) Not find any responsive documents
Note: Timeliness of response is dependent upon the agency workload and the complexity of the request. It may take one week to ten or more years.

6. If you disagree with the agency’s decision, send an appeal to the challenge the exemptions cited.
Note: Agencies will allow 30-90 calendar days to send an appeal.

7. Agency will either:
a) Accept your appeal and release more material.
b) Deny your appeal and continue to withhold material.
Note: Agency may take one month to ten or more years to respond.

8. If you disagree with the decision made on appeal, you may seek judicial review in court.

Want to circulate this information? Download the foia_flowchart.