How to make a freedom of information (FOI) request

How to make an FOI request

Contact an organisation in writing to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. This can be by:

  • letter
  • email
  • online form
  • fax

Before you make a request

You might not need to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to get the information you need.

An organisation might be able to give you information straight away, including over the phone. You can also check published responses to FOI requests and government publications.

What to include

You should give:

  • your name (not needed if requesting environmental information)
  • a contact address
  • a detailed description of the information you want - for example, you might want all information held on a subject, or just a summary

You can ask for information in a particular format, such as:

  • paper or electronic copies of information
  • audio format
  • large print

When you’ll get a response

You should get the information within 20 working days. The organisation will tell you when to expect the information if they need more time.

When your information will be shared

If it seems likely that you’ve sent an FOI request to several government departments, your name and request may be shared between them. This is to help deal with your enquiry more effectively.

No other details will be shared and your information will not be used for any other purpose.


Most requests are free but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies or postage. You’ll be told by the organisation if you have to pay anything.

Check the copyright status of information you receive if you plan to reproduce it.