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Your right to know

Your right to know

What rights do I have under the Freedom of Information Act?

You have the right to access information held by public authorities. For more information see our factsheet below.

What bodies are covered by the Act?

The Act applies to public authorities and companies wholly owned by public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A full list of public authorities covered by the Act can be found on the Department of Constitutional Affairs website.

How do I make a request?

For guidance on how you can make a freedom of information request, read our guidance titled How to make a request.

Will I be able to get any information I want?

Not always. The Act recognises that there will be valid reasons why some kinds of information may be withheld, such as if its release would prejudice national security or damage commercial interests. See our guidance for more details.

Public authorities are not obliged to deal with vexatious or repeated requests. In addition the Act does not provide the right of access to personal information about yourself. This is instead available under the Data Protection Act 1998, again subject to certain exemptions.

How long will I have to wait to get the information?

The public authority generally has 20 working days to provide the information that you have requested. See our guidance on time for compliance.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the way my request has been dealt with, or with the information provided?

You can complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. For further details on this, see the complaints section.

If we are unable to resolve your complaint informally, we will issue a decision notice stating whether or not the public authority has complied with the Act. See our latest decision notices.