FOIA: Freedom of Information Act

NOAA resources for filing FOIA requests

The Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) was enacted in 1966. FOIA provides that any person has a right to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine FOIA exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. This right is enforceable in court.

The Federal FOIA does not provide access to records held by U.S. state or local government agencies or by businesses or individuals. States have their own statutes governing public access to state and local records, and they should be consulted for further information.

Filing a FOIA Request

Before submitting FOIA requests, individuals should ensure that the information they seek is not already in the public domain. Offices maintaining information in the public domain are listed in NOAA's FOIA Reading Room. If the information is not in the public domain, please follow the suggestions listed below to file a new request:

Filing Online
  • Submit a request via FOIA Online the multi-agency FOIA processing and tracking database. Register for an account or submit as a guest user.
  • identify the records requested (be as specific as possible, i.e., describe the subject matter of the records, and, if known, indicate the dates of the records, the places where they originated, and the names of the originating persons or offices);
  • state that the records are requested under the Freedom of Information Act;
  • include daytime telephone numbers in case additional information is needed before answering requests.
Filing by Mail

Mark the outside of the envelope, "Freedom of Information Request" and mail to the address listed below.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Public Reference Facility (SOU1000)
1315 East-West Highway (SSMC3)
Room 9719
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

Contact NOAA FOIA Staff by Phone / Fax / Email

Phone: 301-628-5658

Fax : 301-713-4040 

NOAA FOIA Corporate Services, Staff and Line Office Contacts

Filing an Appeal

You have the right to appeal this [denial or partial denial] of the FOIA request. Your appeal must be received within 30 calendar days of the date of initial denial letter by the Assistant General Counsel for Administration. Address your appeal to the following office:

Assistant General Counsel for Administration (Office)
Room 5898-C U.S. 
Department of Commerce 14th and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230

Additional FOIA Resources