Can a FOIA Request Be Denied? We Have the Scoop!
The Freedom of Information Act of 1966 was established to make sure federal documents are available to the public. If you wish to access such documents, you’ll need to send a FOIA request. What happens after you file your request? Can a FOIA request be denied? DoNotPay answers these questions and shows you how to submit a fail-safe FOIA request.
Why Do FOIA Requests Get Denied?
The agency you send a FOIA request to has the right to deny your request.
This may happen if one or more of the nine FOIA exemptions apply to the records you wish to access. You may also be denied access to records if the agency determines that no documents are compatible with your request.
Your request may be denied either partially or fully. With partial rejection, you will get a document not containing information exempted from disclosure. In cases like this, the agency will withhold info, which constitutes a denial under the FOIA.
Sometimes, you can get the complete records and not be satisfied with the results because they don’t contain all the info you expected to see.
What Are the FOIA Exemptions?
You can avoid getting a rejected FOIA request if you are careful what information you are looking for. This means you should not ask to see any records that are a part of the nine exemptions of FOIA. Here is a brief overview:
|Exemption||The Info It Contains|
|Classified information dealing with national security|
|Internal rules of an agency|
|Forbidden records because of other federal laws|
|Confidential info regarding commercial and trade secrets|
|Confidential information between agencies that are connected with legal privileges:
|Personal documentation that threatens to invade a person’s privacy (medical records, for example)|
|Law enforcement records|
|Financial institution info and bank supervision|
|Geological and geophysical information|
If you follow these rules and your request still gets denied, you’ll need to take some action.
What Should You Do if Your FOIA Request Gets Denied?
If you experience any problems with your request, you have the right to file an administrative appeal. You should first get in touch with the FOIA professional dealing with the request or the agency’s FOIA Public Liaison. This may result in you resolving the issues without the need to file an appeal.
If that is not the case, you can file an appeal with a simple procedure. Follow these steps:
- Compose a formal letter
- State that you are appealing the decision made on your request
- Include the info about your request
- Add your contact information
- Send the letter to the agency’s designated appeal authority via mail or email
You don’t have to pay a fee for filing an appeal. After the appellate reviews your case, they will inform you of the final decision. If you are still not satisfied with the results, you may ask for judicial review.
Make Sure You Send a Proper FOIA Request With DoNotPay
The best way to get access to the info you want without any obstacles is to draft a high-quality request. How you decide to do so is crucial. With DoNotPay, you can be sure everything is done according to law.
Proceed as follows:
- Access DoNotPay from a
- Find and open the FOIA feature
- Tell us if you’re dealing with a federal or state agency
- Type in the name of the agency you want to send a request to
- Inform us if you wish to ask for a fee waiver or expedited processing
DoNotPay will send the request letter to the agency of your choice immediately.
We also have the answers to all the questions you may have about requesting to see information about yourself. If you need assistance with finding a FOIA template, you can also count on DoNotPay to guide you through the process.
DoNotPay’s FOIA Feature Works With Any Agency
can help you send proper FOIA request forms to local, state, and federal agencies. Check out our guides to sending FOIA requests to some of the most prominent institutions:
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
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