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How to Submit a FOIA Request

This page contains information for the public on how to file a Freedom of Information Act request for FEMA records.

How to Submit a FOIA/PA Request

The Agency provides requesters with an online submittal form, an email address, mobile app option, and a physical address – requesters may use any of these methods to submit a request.

Following the instructions below when preparing your request, will help ensure a proper request is submitted.

Your FOIA Request should:

  1. Be in writing and signed by the person making the request;
  2. State that the request is being made pursuant to the FOIA;
  3.  Reasonably describe the records being requested;
    1. Please include as much information as possible such as; any relevant dates and times, search terms and any other information that may help records custodians in locating the records in a timely manner.
  4. Should contain an agreement to pay fees (minimum of $25.00) that might be incurred; or a request that such fees be  waived or reduced and a justification for such request;
    1. In the absence of a firm agreement to pay, Department regulations permit the Disclosure Branch to charge a $25 minimum to process the FOIA request.

Your Privacy Act (PA) Request should:

  1. Follow steps 1 and 3 of submitting a FOIA request in addition to the below.
  2.  State that it is made pursuant to the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and be marked "Privacy Act Request" on the request and on the envelope;

Requesting Records About Another Individual

For requesting information about someone other than yourself, you must obtain a written statement of consent from the person whom the records are about, giving FEMA permission to release the information.

The written authorization must contain:

  1. A description of the record which may be disclosed;   
  2. The name of the person, firm, or agency to which the record will be disclosed;
  3. A statement that the Department is authorized to disclose the record;
  4. Your signature and the date; and 
  5. Verification of your identity, which can be satisfied by;
    1. Providing your Name, Date of Birth, Place Birth and current mailing address; and
    2. Providing a signed and dated statement that you understand the penalties provided in 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3) for requesting access to records under false pretenses, and the statement is subscribed by you as true and correct under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746.

Where to Make a FOIA Request

While our Government Information Specialists are happy to answer questions about the FOIA Program and/or help you formulate your request over the phone. Please be advised, Government Information Specialists cannot accept FOIA requests by phone. The Freedom of Information Act also does not require agencies to answer questions, venture opinions, or conduct independent inquiries to satisfy queries from the public. Please ensure that your request asks for records, not answers to questions.

There are four options for requesters to file a request for FEMA Records.

  1. Email at fema-foia@fema.dhs.gov. Please include your mailing address, email address and phone number with your request.
  2. To submit your request online, please click the subsequent link​: www.dhs.gov/dhs-foia-request-submission-form.
  3. Submit your request via regular mail to:

FEMA Information Management Division
FOIA Request
500 C Street, S.W., Mailstop 3172
Washington, D.C. 20472

Please mark your envelope with the notation, “FOIA Request” or “Privacy Act (PA) Request”

  1. The DHS eFOIA Mobile App conveys the online request process to mobile devices; requesters can submit requests and check the status of existing requests anyplace, anytime. The free App is available for all Apple and Android devices.

Expediting Request and Fee Waivers

  1. Expedited Processing. Requests for expedited processing must be granted when a requester demonstrates a compelling need. The DOJ FOIA Guide provides more information about requests for expedited processing.
  2. Fees waived for public interest. Fees may be waived in whole or in part when the agency determines that providing the records is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the federal government, and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. The DOJ FOIA Guide provides more information about situations in which fee waivers may be applied.

Response Times

The FOIA requires that requests be responded to within 20 days (excluding weekends and federal holidays). The 20-day period starts when the appropriate office receives a request.  By mutual agreement and within the initial 20-day response period, the custodian and the requester may establish a different response period. This agreement must be confirmed with the requester in writing.

Response times may be extended due to unusual circumstances. When unusual circumstances exist, the requester will be notified in writing and be offered the opportunity to modify or narrow the scope of the request. Unusual circumstances are when:

  1. Records need to be obtained from multiple offices
  2. There is a voluminous amount of responsive records
  3. Another component or federal agency that has substantial interest in the responsive information must be consulted

Filing an Appeal

You have the right to appeal if you disagree with FEMA’s response to your request. Your appeal must be received within 90 calendar days of the date of your final response letter. Address your appeal to the subsequent address: 

 FEMA Information Management Division
FOIA Appeals
500 C Street, S.W., Mailstop 3172
Washington, D.C. 20472

Your appeal may also be sent by email to fema-foia@dhs.gov, or by logging into FOIAOnline if you have an account at https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/home. Your appeal must include a copy of our response to your request, a statement of the reasons the withheld records should be released, and why the denial of the records was in error. The appeal letter, the envelope, and email subject line should be marked “Freedom of Information Act Appeal”.

Last Updated: 
09/14/2017 - 11:04