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28 September 2023 - this guide was published

This 90 second guide will help staff who have limited experience of freedom of information to understand what they need to do.


  • Be aware that people have the right to ask for information held by your public authority, if you are based in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or a UK-wide public authority based in Scotland.
  • Proactively publish information about your organisation’s activities and routinely review it to ensure it’s up-to-date.
  • Know what information you hold, where you hold it, and how you hold it.
  • Publish the contact details for where people should send their requests or make enquiries.

  • Check that requests include the name and contact details of the requester.
  • Respond to verbal requests for information on the environment. Send the requester a written record of their request anytime you accept a verbal request.
  • Respond to requests made through any social networking sites your organisation uses, as long as they include the requester’s name and contact details.
  • Provide advice and assistance to requesters if they don’t know how to make a request or are not sure what they’re asking for. Speak to them if it will help understand their information needs.

  • Translate the information you disclose, if required. Be aware of your organisation’s obligations under other legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010.
  • Respond informally, as you would a business-as-usual activity, if you’re able to provide the requested information before the statutory deadline.
  • Let the requester know if the information they requested is available to them elsewhere (eg because you have published it).
  • If you decide to refuse a request, explain your reasons under FOI law in writing, and let the requester know they have the right to appeal (use our response templates to help you).
  • Log requests so you can track progress and show how you are complying.
  • Set internal deadlines to ensure you can respond within 20 working days.
  • Conduct a thorough search for the requested information before you respond.
  • Don’t alter, conceal, delete or dispose of information to prevent you disclosing it. This is a criminal offence.
  • If you need support, speak to colleagues in your FOI team, if you have one. Alternatively, get in touch with our Business Advice Services.