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FOIA

FBI Records

Here you can learn all about FBI records—including how to find records already released and how to request unreleased records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Privacy Act. You can also find other information that will help you understand these records and the work of the FBI. See the menu to the right for hot topics and other links.

Understanding FBI Records

The FBI—along with every other government agency—creates or obtains records as it carries out its responsibilities. In the Bureau, these records are generally organized into case files. Our common records include investigative files and personnel files. Our files are generally indexed in our Central Records System. This computerized index contains most of our records; some of our earliest records are not indexed. Some of our records have also been transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration. To learn more, see:

Obtaining FBI Records

Records Available Now

A large number of FBI records are already available for reading and research:

  • In the Vault—our new electronic reading room—you can read our most popular documents from the comfort of your own computer. The files are organized alphabetically by name or topic and by category or subject—including civil rights, counterterrorism, popular culture, unusual phenomenon, and violent crime. New releases of broad interest to the public can also be found on our Hot Topics page. While the Freedom of Information Act requires that the FBI make certain categories of records available in its reading rooms, it may at its discretion include other types of records: 1. Final Opinions and Orders – No records available at this time; 2. Agency Policy Statements;  3. Administrative Staff Manuals and Instructions; and 4. Frequently Requested Records.
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    You can see our full range of online records by visiting our Reading Room at FBI Headquarters at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. The hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You are required to make an appointment 48 hours in advance of arriving by calling (202) 324-4682. However, if you would rather review the material in your own home, all Reading Room documents have been converted to CDs that are available for $15 each. You can pay the FBI by check or money order, or make a debit/credit card or ACH payment via pay.gov, a secure, web-based application hosted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The information on the CDs is of the same quality as the original materials in the Reading Room. To obtain these records, you must submit a FOIA request either by e-mail, mail, or fax. Upon receipt of your request, we will mail you a letter requesting pre-payment of $15 per CD. Upon receipt of payment, we will mail you a CD(s).

Records Available by Request

For complete information on when and how to submit a request, see Requesting FBI Records.

To learn what information you will receive, how long it takes, and how to file an appeal, see What Happens After Making a Request.

If you have any questions about preparing or submitting requests, call our FOIA Requestor Service Center at (540) 868-1535 to hear helpful recorded information.