The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), enacted in 1966, provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, of access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement records exclusions.
General information regarding the FOIA can be found at foia.gov.
Requests must be made to the agency whose documents are the subject of your request.
The principal FOIA contacts for other federal agencies can be found online.
Make FOIA Request Online
Please visit the Department of Homeland Security's FOIA webpage.
Due to the agency's active response to Hurricane Ian and other incidents we have adjusted normal operations to more adequately support disaster response and recovery. As a result, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your FOIA request or appeal.
We will be able to acknowledge requests made electronically more quickly than by mail.
You may reach out to our FOIA Requester Service Center and FOIA Public Liaison if you have any questions about your request.
We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
To Receive Your Records as Efficiently as Possible
- Visit the FEMA FOIA Library to confirm we have not already posted the records you need.
- Request only the records you need, as we can return precise requests faster.
How to Request Records from FEMA
You also have the option to request a copy through our Individual Assistance (IA) Program by visiting Disaster Assitance.gov or calling 1-800-621-3362. The response time for IA is shorter than the FOIA process and IA can also address questions about claims process.
Records related to disaster response, relief and their related grants, about the National Flood Insurance Program, or any other FEMA records
Use our online FOIA system
Request records online to instantly:
- Get your request in line for processing;
- Know we received your request; and
- Be notified when we process your request.
Online records are easy to access from a phone, tablet, or computer, send to another person, and download and print.
Current average FOIA request processing times, or the status of your FOIA records request
Visit DHS's site to check the status of your FOIA request, scroll down, and enter your FOIA control number.
Information about our FOIA process or operation
FOIA or Privacy record requests by physical mail
500 C Street, S.W.,
Mail Stop 3172
Washington, D.C. 20472-3172
To request records by mail:
- You do not need to fill out a form. Learn more about requesting FOIA or Privacy.
- You do need to provide your full name, mailing address, date of birth, place of birth, and a signature that is notarized or one that is executed under penalty of perjury.
You will also:
- Wait for us to receive your request, open it, and add it to our processing line
- Potentially need to mail more information to us to complete your request
- Receive a compact disk in the mail that contains your record
Or you may request and receive your records more quickly using our online FOIA system.
Not all records are required to be released under the FOIA.
Congress established nine exemptions from disclosure for certain categories of
information to protect against certain harms, such as an invasion of personal
privacy, or harm to law enforcement investigations. The FOIA authorizes
agencies to withhold information when they reasonably foresee that disclosure
would harm an interest protected by one of these nine exemptions.
The nine exemptions are described below.
- Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security.
- Exemption 2: Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
- Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
- Exemption 4: Trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
- Exemption 5: Privileged communications within or between agencies, including those protected by the:
- Deliberative Process Privilege (provided the records were created less than 25 years before the date on which they were requested)
- Attorney-Work Product Privilege
- Attorney-Client Privilege
- Exemption 6: Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy.
- Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that:
- 7(A). Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
- 7(B). Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
- 7(C). Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
- 7(D). Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source
- 7(E). Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law
- 7(F). Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual
- Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
- Exemption 9: Geological information on wells.