The ICO exists to empower you through information.

What should my request say?

Do include:

  • an email subject line or heading for your letter which makes it clear that you are making an information request. For example, you could use ‘request for information,’ ‘freedom of information request’ or ‘Environmental Information request’;
  • the date of your request;
  • your name – a request can also be made in the name of an organisation or by one person on behalf of another, such as a solicitor on behalf of a client;
  • contact details the public authority can use to respond to you in writing;
  • how you would like to receive the information (for example by email or printed out and posted to you);
  • a clear description of the information you want; and
  • any dates or other details that will help the public authority search for the information you want.


Don’t include:

  • unnecessary information alongside your request, like details about a wider customer service complaint;
  • requests for information if your aim is solely to cause additional work for the public authority; or 
  • offensive or threatening language.


Whichever department of a public authority receives your information request, the organisation has a responsibility to recognise it as a formal request and respond to it appropriately. But where possible, send your request directly to the team who deal with information requests. It should be straightforward to find their details on the organisation’s website by searching for “freedom of information”.

There are some dedicated websites, like WhatDoTheyKnow, that can help you submit requests to public authorities.

How should a public authority support me?

Public authorities must provide you with advice and assistance if you need help to make, clarify or refine your request. The ICO cannot request information on your behalf.

If you require additional support or reasonable adjustments to allow you to make a request or access the information provided in response to a request, you can ask the public authority to assist you.

For example, you might need to request the response:

  • in braille;
  • in large print; or
  • in audio format.

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Welsh Language Act 1993 may also have a bearing on the ways in which public authorities communicate with you. 

If you think a public authority has failed to make a reasonable adjustment, you can seek further advice from:

  • Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS); or
  • Citizens Advice.

What should my request look like?

You could use our information access request template as a guide.

[Address for correspondence]


Under the [Freedom of Information Act/Environmental Information Regulations], I would like to request the following information:

[be specific about the information you wish to receive. Include details like date ranges and the likely location of information, if possible.]

I would like you to provide the information in the following format:

[specify whether you have a preferred format to receive the information]

Please contact me if you need me to clarify my request.

[providing your phone number might help them resolve issues with your request quickly]



Frequently asked questions

Can I make an information request verbally?

Generally, you can only make an information request verbally if you’re asking for environmental information. But we recommend that, even if you’re making an EIR request, you put it in writing if possible. This means you can keep an exact record of your request.

You can also make a verbal request if you require the public authority to make a reasonable adjustment and accept the request verbally. 

If you are making a verbal request, you should:

  • use straightforward, polite language;
  • focus the conversation on your information request;
  • work with the organisation to identify the information you need and where they can find it; and
  • check their understanding – ask them to repeat your request and tell them if anything is incorrect or missing before finishing the conversation.

Should I use a public authority’s online form to make my request?

Using an online form can make it easier for the public authority to deal with your request. The forms can:

  • help structure your request;
  • prompt you to include necessary details;
  • let you know the best contact point at the organisation; and
  • generate a reference number for your request.

A public authority can’t refuse a request sent via email or post simply because they would prefer you to use an online form.

Should I keep a record of my request?

You should:

  • keep a copy of your correspondence;
  • keep any proof of postage or delivery (such as a postal reference number); and
  • if using an online form to submit your request, take a screenshot before sending and note down the date you made the request.

This will provide helpful evidence if you need to follow up your request or complain about the public authority’s response at a later stage.