Federal and state agencies can charge reasonable fees for the direct costs of searching for and copying records given in response to a FOIA request.
Search fees can vary, based on the salary of the employee doing the search. Photocopying costs are normally between 3 and 25 cents per page. If you would like to know the specific fees an agency charges, you should contact the agency.
Note: You can be charged search fees even if few or no documents are found in response to your request. However, agencies may not charge you for the time that they spend examining files to determine whether they should be exempt from disclosure unless you are requesting the information for a commercial use.
If you are requesting information in the public interest, and not for personal benefit, you can ask for your fees to be waived. Some guidelines to determine that the information you are requesting is in the public interest are as follows:
- The requested records concern government operations and activities;
- The disclosure of the records is likely to contribute to the understanding of the operations or activities;
- The disclosure will likely result in the public understanding of the subject;
- The contribution to public understanding of government activities will be significant;
- The requester has a limited commercial interest in the disclosure; and
- The public interest in disclosure outweighs the requester's commercial interest.
If you believe that you are entitled to a fee waiver, you should outline the reasons why in your initial request letter.