Request information from the government
You can make an official information request to the organisation or person you think holds the information you want.
Making a request
You should write to the Minister, department or other government body who has the information you want to see. This means you have a copy of the request.
If you don't make the request in writing, keep a note about:
- who you spoke to
- the date of the request
- what you asked for.
You need to be clear about the information you require.
If you're not clear about what you want or if you've made the request to the wrong agency, your request can't be rejected — the government department you contacted must help you write your request in the right way or find the correct organisation.
How long does it take?
Official information requests are normally answered within 20 working days. This time is allowed to be extended, but:
- you have to be told why
- there has to be a reason for it.
You can complain to the Ombudsman if the time extension doesn't seem fair.
What does it cost?
You can be charged, but the fee has to be reasonable. Usually there's no charge for the first hour spent on your request or for the first 20 pages of photocopying.
You can complain to the Ombudsman if your request is turned down and you don’t think there was a good reason.