The ICO exists to empower you through information.

At a glance

You normally have 20 working days to respond to a request.

InĀ brief

What are the timescales for responding to a request for information?

Your main obligation under the Act is to respond to requests promptly, with a time limit acting as the longest time you can take. Under the Act, most public authorities may take up to 20 working days to respond, counting the first working day after the request is received as the first day. For schools, the standard time limit is 20 school days, or 60 working days if this is shorter.

Working day means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or public holidays and bank holidays; this may or may not be the same as the days you are open for business or staff are in work.

The time allowed for complying with a request starts when your organisation receives it, not when it reaches the freedom of information officer or other relevant member of staff.

Certain circumstances (explained in this guidance and in When can we refuse a request?) may allow you extra time. However, in all cases you must give the requester a written response within the standard time limit for compliance.

For further information, read our more detailed guidance:

It will take us a long time to find the information. Can we have extra time?

The Act does not allow extra time for searching for information. However, if finding the information and drawing it together to answer the request would be an unreasonable burden on your resources and exceed a set costs limit, you may be able to refuse the request. Likewise, you may not have to confirm whether or not you hold the information, if it would exceed the costs limit to determine this.

See When can we refuse a request? for more details.

Can we have extra time to consider exemptions?

No, but if the exemption is qualified you can have extra time to consider the public interest test. In doing so you must: identify the relevant exemption(s) before you can claim any extra time for the public interest test; and write and let the requester know why you are claiming extra time.