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U.S. Department of State: Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act

About FOIA and Other Information Access Programs

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information except to the extent the records are protected from disclosure by any of nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.

The FOIA only applies to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local governments. Any requests for state or local government records should be directed to the appropriate state or local government agency.

The FOIA requires that some records previously processed for disclosure under the Act be routinely made "available for public inspection and copying.” Please review our Administrative Rulings, Policy Statements, and Other Publications prior to making a request or go to the Search page where you will find thousands of records posted online.

The Privacy Act mandates how federal agencies maintain records about individuals. Certain individuals may request copies of their own records maintained by a federal agency if those records are maintained by the agency within a “system of records.”

Mandatory Declassification Review is a provision under Executive Order 13526 that allows members of the public to request a declassification review of a classified document in order to obtain a releasable version of that document.

11-03-2017   Download Acrobat Reader