Freedom of information: responding to requests

Know what to do if you receive a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including when you can charge for a response or refuse the request. Download and use our template letters to help you respond to requests.

Last reviewed on 4 March 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 136
Contents
  1. What a valid request looks like
  2. Steps to take before responding
  3. Providing a response
  4. Deadlines for responding
  5. Charging for information
  6. Refusing a request
  7. Dealing with complaints

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) is different legislation from the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). FOIA practice has not changed following Brexit.

Dealing with these requests can be tricky. If you have any further questions that aren't covered by this article, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) directly.

What a valid request looks like

The request must:

  • Be in writing (e.g. in a letter, an email or on a social networking site)
  • Include the requester's real name or the name of the person or organisation they're acting on behalf of
  • Include an address for correspondence (e.g. a residential or work postal or email address)
  • Describe the information requested, even if this description is broad or unclear

It's likely that most written requests for information will meet these criteria. Even if a request isn't valid, you must provide advice and assistance to the requester, such as by telling

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.