How to FOIA

How to submit your own Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of any public agency.

FOIA The Man! A Workshop for Research and Action. This workshop was held to learn how the Uptown People’s Law Center has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the fight for social justice in Illinois and to learn how we can all submit, file and process our own FOIA requests to any public agency. The workshop and discussion took place at the Latino Cultural Center on the UIC campus on 11/3/16.

(00:00) Start
(00:16) [intro] Illinois Deaths in Custody Project
(00:43) [intro] Uptown People’s Law Center
(06:48) The power of FOIA
(10:34) What can you request through the Freedom of Information Act?
(11:30) What’s a public agency?
(12:20) Can you FOIA a private agency working with a public agency?
(15:14) How do I submit a FOIA?
(16:19) Who do I send my FOIA request to?
(17:33) Are there any exceptions to Freedom of Information Act?
(21:31) What if the public agency won’t give up documents?
(23:39) How long does this all take?
(26:01) How much does it cost to submit a FOIA request?

For more information on Federal Agencies you can request information of:

Click the following for sample FOIA request letters per State or Federal request.

State Agencies:

Federal Agencies:

Chicago Police:


Please note several of the above FOIA request letter samples make note of payment possibilities, but it is ILLEGAL for any government agency to charge you any amount for the information you are requesting so long as you are requesting the information for public interest, i.e. school, journalism, publication. Please, refer to the final timestamp of our video above,”(26:01) How much does it cost to submit a FOIA request?” for questions about costs.