The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is designed to help citizens understand what is happening in their government. It allows individuals to request access to certain government records, provided they don’t fall into one of the exemptions. This permission is granted on the federal, state, and local levels.
Before making a FOIA request, do some research to check if the information is already publicly available. Many government records are readily accessible through agency websites.
Below is a brief overview of how to make a FOIA request.
- Search through government agency resources here.
- Submit a request to the appropriate agency’s FOIA office. The request must be in writing and describe which documents you are seeking. A list of agency contact information can be found here.
For more information about FOIA requests, see the FAQs page.
New York State (known as Freedom of Information Law, FOIL):
- Research through the FOIL Reading Room and Open Data pages.
- Submit a request through the Open FOIL Form or through the appropriate agency website; a directory can be found here. Be sure to be as descriptive as possible in your request.
For more information about FOIL requests, visit the Open FOIL Resource Center page.
NYC (known as FOIL)
- Research through the Government Publications Portal and the NYC OpenData Portal.
For more information about FOIL requests, visit the FAQs page.
In New York City, the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) is responsible for archiving public information, running the Municipal Archives, Municipal Library, and the Records Center.
Access through DORIS include vital records, City social media archives, and tax photos, among other things.