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How Do I File a FOIA Request?

You can submit a FOIA request for any agency record that is not publicly available. When filing your request, describe as best as possible the records you are requesting. In your description include information such as:

  • the date and place the records were created
  • file descriptions, subject matter, persons involved, and 
  • other pertinent details that will help identify the records for which you are asking.

Please be aware that the FOIA does not require agencies to answer questions or to create records to respond to a request.

FOIA requests must be submitted to the Census Bureau in writing. The FOIAonline system is also available for you to submit your requests electronically. FOIAonline is a multi-agency FOIA tracking and processing tool that allows requesters to register as a user to:

  • Submit FOIA requests (to participating agencies)
  • Track progress on each request
  • Communicate directly with the staff handling requests at all points in the process

Guest users are welcome to use the FOIAonline system to submit requests, search for previously released records, and generate reports, but the tracking and communications features will not be available.

Requests can also be submitted to the Census Bureau by paper copy (Privacy Act statement.) When making a request, please include a mailing address so we may contact you if necessary. Keep a copy of your request; you may need to refer to it for further correspondence with the agency.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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