FBI records can be requested through both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act. Please read this page carefully to ensure you are making the correct request.
The Freedom of Information Act allows any person—except fugitives, federal agencies, and foreign intelligence agencies—to request information about organizations, businesses, investigations, historical events, incidents, groups, or deceased persons.
To submit a Freedom of Information Act request, use one of the following options:
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FBI has adjusted its normal operations and is unable to timely process Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOIPA) requests received via the eFOIPA portal or by standard mail. Given limited staffing to ensure safety, you can expect delays in both the acknowledgement and substantive response to your FOIPA request. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding during this national emergency.
Option 1: Submit your request using the eFOIPA portal.
Option 2: Submit your request using the Sample FOIA Request Letter. The form includes instructions.
Note: Please use the U.S. Department of Justice Certification of Identity Form DOJ-361. If you have any questions about this process before submitting your FOIA request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Attn: Initial Processing Operations Unit
Record/Information Dissemination Section
200 Constitution Drive
Winchester, VA 22602
Fax: (540) 868-4997
- Provide your complete name and mailing address. Telephone, fax, and e-mail addresses are optional.
- Provide any identifying data that will help us locate information—for example, the subject’s complete name, aliases, date and place of birth, Social Security number, former addresses, or localities.
- If you are interested in records pertaining to a particular incident, please describe it in detail.
Another living person:
- If your request is for information about another living person, that information is usually not disclosed unless you have obtained the person’s written consent or unless public disclosure is authorized by law. Requests for information about another living person should be accompanied by evidence of the subject’s consent. Please use U.S. Department of Justice Certification of Identity Form DOJ-361 and complete the section identified as: Authorization to Release Information to Another Person. You may submit an attachment listing additional information that may aid in locating responsive records. Please place your name and contact information on the attachment.
A deceased individual:
- If your request is for information concerning a deceased individual, you must provide proof of death. Acceptable forms of proof of death include obituaries, death certificates, recognized sources that can be documented, written media, Who’s Who in America, an FBI file that indicates a person is deceased, date of birth is 100 years or greater, or Social Security Death Index page.
State how much you are willing to pay for duplication fees if any are assessed. Refer to the U.S. Department of Justice FOIA Reference Guide.
For more information:
If you are requesting a copy, want to challenge, or are just checking on the status of a request regarding an Identity History Summary Check, please contact the FBI’s Criminal Justice Services Division (CJIS), Clarksburg, West Virginia at 304-625-5590 or 2000.
(Note: Please do not submit a Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Request to the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS) if you are requesting an Identity History Summary Check. Access the CJIS link below and follow the instructions to request an Identity History Summary Check.)
An Identity History Summary Check—often referred to as a criminal history record, a police background clearance, police/good conduct certificate, or a “rap sheet”—is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. It can also be used to satisfy a requirement to live, work, or travel in a foreign country, for employment or licensing within the U.S., or adopting a child in the U.S. or internationally. It may relate to a denial of a firearms purchase. The process of responding to an Identity History Summary Check is generally known as a criminal background check.
Requesters may access the application instructions and necessary forms on the Identity History Summary Checks webpage. When writing to CJIS, please use the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
To learn what information you will receive, how long it takes, and how to file an appeal, see What Happens After Making a Request.
To make a request for cross-references—defined as a mention of a subject in the main file of another person, place, or event—you need to provide information in your request that is sufficient to enable the FBI to ensure with certainty that the cross-references are identifiable to the subject of your request. This information may include the following:
- The specific circumstances in which the subject of your request had contact with the FBI;
- The date(s) of such contact;
- The location(s) of such contact;
- The full name (first, middle, and last name) as well as any prior names or aliases used by the subject of your request;
- Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth, and home address of the subject of your request;
- Names of associates of the subject of your request the mention of whom might aid in the identification of responsive records; and
- Other references of the subject of your request in media, such as books, articles, websites, etc.
- Please note that the FBI may not be able to identify responsive cross-references despite the additional information you provide.
For more information:
If you have any questions about preparing or submitting FOIA or Privacy Act requests, call our FOIA Requester Service Center at (540) 868-1535 to hear helpful recorded information. For information on expedited processing and fee waivers, see the U.S. Department of Justice FOIA Reference Guide.