How to submit a FOIA Request

After determining that the information you are looking for is not readily available either on the FWS Home Page or through a direct inquiry (See Preliminary Steps), you may choose to file a FOIA request to get the information that you seek.

In drafting your FOIA request, make sure you:

  1. Clearly state what information you are seeking, including any relevant names, locations, and dates. Be both as specific and as concise as possible.
  2. Indicate the costs (for search, document duplication, and postage) that you are willing to pay without prior notification by the Service. (NOTE: Although many requests do not cost anything, failure to indicate an amount you will pay without notification can result in delays in processing your request.) Requests for fee waivers must include how the requester meets the criteria for a fee waiver (43 CFR 2.45-2.48).
  3. Indicate if you are willing to modify your request in order to get a quicker response.
  4. Indicate whether or not the Service should consider your FOIA request to be an expedited request.  Requests can be expedited if you demonstrate to the satisfaction of the bureau that there is a compelling need for the records.  The following circumstances demonstrate a compelling need:  (1) Where failure to expedite the request could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; or (2) Where there is an urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged Federal Government activity and the request is made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information (43 CFR 2.20).
  5. Include your name, address and phone number, and the date.
  6. Effective January 15, 2004, to help protect against virus and worm attacks, the following attachment types will be stripped from inbound messages that originate from outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

    Attachment Type Extension
    Batch files .BAT
    Windows NT command script .CMD
    MS-DOS application .COM
    Executable program file .EXE
    Shortcut to MS-DOS program .PIF
    Screen saver .SCR
    Visual Basic script file .VBS

    Send the attachment without a file extension and indicate the attachment type so that we can rename the attachment accordingly upon receipt. Alternatively, you may use free compression software to "zip" the file into one that does not use one of the above extensions.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has seen a significant increase in virus and worm attacks in recent months. Most viruses and worms are distributed in the form of an e-mail attachment. While e-mail attachments are often important and legitimate means of conducting business, they also have the potential to cause great harm to our e-mail infrastructure, as well as to individual workstations.

  7. Please be advised that any electronic FOIA request you submit and/or your paper FOIA request may be scanned for ease of transfer to the 'office(s) of record' and in order to store in the Department of Interior's (Department) mandatory Electronic FOIA Tracking System. What this means: is that we may share any personal information you provide in your request (including electronic address, bank account, charge card or social security number) with others within the Department involved in processing FOIA requests. Though we will make every effort to protect your privacy, we urge you NOT to include any personal information in your request - if it is not needed for processing. The Department's FOIA request tracking systems are authorized and included under "DOI-71, Freedom of Information Request File System."
  8. In accordance with the Departments regulations, 43 CFR 2 § 2.38-2.39 and Appendix C, we ask that you specify your fee category. This will assist us with the determination of the appropriate fee charges. If you are willing to pay fees, please provide an estimated amount. The Department has four (4) fee categories:

    1. commercial use
    2. educational or noncommercial scientific institution
    3. news media
    4. other

    For your reference, this information can be obtained on the Department of the Interior website located at: (section Regulations, DOI Regulations, amended, September 30, 2004).

WHERE to send a FOIA Request


Last updated: August 8, 2013