Make a request for official information

Make your request to the agency that holds the information you want, not through the Ombudsman.

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Ask for information

There’s no set way to ask for official information. You can make a request verbally – whether in person or over the phone – or in writing.

It’s usually better to put your request in writing so you have a record of what you asked for and when you asked for it. This will make sure everyone has the same understanding about what it is you want the agency to give you. 

You don’t have to refer to official information law – the Official Information Act (OIA) or Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) – but it can help make sure that that everyone is clear from the beginning that the right rules are applied.

Your ability to request official information

Guide for requesters to making official information requests

What should happen with your request?

The agency has to respond to your request as soon as reasonably practicable and no later than 20 working days after it was received.

The agency needs to consider your request and tell you what decision it has made – whether you will get the information – as soon as it can do so, within reason. 

An agency can extend the timeframe to respond if there is a lot of information involved or it needs to consult with others and it can’t do this within 20 working days. 

Agencies can charge for supplying you with the information. The amount must be reasonable and it's good practice for them to get your agreement first. 

If your request is refused, the agency must tell you why and that you can complain to the Ombudsman.

Complaining to the Ombudsman

If you don’t receive a response within 20 working days, or you’re unhappy with the response you got, you can complain to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman can look at:

  • refusals (including deletions)
  • delays and extensions of time to reply
  • charges for providing the information
  • the way in which information was provided, especially if you asked for it in a particular way
  • conditions or restrictions on how you got the information or what you can do with it.

The Ombudsman doesn’t release official information. If they investigate and decide the agency should have released some or all of the information you asked for and the agency agrees, they will provide the information.

The Ombudsman may publish information about the outcome of a complaint if it's important for other people to know about. We will protect your privacy where necessary.

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