Fees for Freedom of Information Requests

There are no fees incurred for making a personal FOI request, but requests for general, non-personal information may incur a fee or fees. Section 75 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act enables a public body to charge a fee for some aspects of a Freedom of Information request (FOI). These fees are not a barrier to access and are not intended to recoup the full cost of processing an FOI request. Averaged annually, less than 2% of FOI requests received result in a fee being charged. 

There are no fees incurred for:

  • The first three hours required to locate and retrieve a record
  • Time spent redacting information from a record
  • Your personal information

There may be fees assessed for:

  • Locating, retrieving the record (beyond the initial three hours)
  • Producing the required record
  • Shipping and handling of the record
  • Providing a copy of the record

It is up to the public body to determine which fees will be charged, and all fees charged must be in accordance with FOIPPA and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation.

As outlined in Schedule 1 of the FOIPP regulation, the maximum fees that can be charged for the following services:

Description of Services Management Fees
(a) for locating and retrieving a record $7.50 per 1/4 hour after the first 3 hours
(b) for producing a record manually $7.50 per 1/4 hour
(c) for producing a record from a machine-readable record from a server or computer $7.50 per 1/4 hour for developing a computer program to produce the record
(d) for preparing a record for disclosure and handling a record $7.50 per 1/4 hour
(e) for shipping copies actual costs of shipping method chosen by applicant
(f) for copying records  
    (i) floppy disks $2 per disk
    (ii) CDs and DVDs, recordable or rewritable $4 per disk
    (iii) computer tapes $40 per tape, up to 2 400 feet
    (iv) microfiche $3 per fiche
    (v) microfilm duplication $25 per roll for 16 mm microfilm, $40 per roll for 35 mm microfilm
    (vi) microfiche or microfilm to paper duplication $0.50 per page (8.5" x 11")
    (vii) photographs, colour or black and white $5 to produce a negative
  $12 each for 16" x 20" photograph
  $9 each for 11" x 14" photograph
  $4 each for 8" x 10" photograph
  $3 each for 5" x 7" photograph
    (viii) photographic print of textual, graphic or cartographic record, black and white $12.50 each (8" x 10")
    (ix) dot matrix, ink jet, laser print or photocopy, black and white $0.25 per page (8.5" x 11", 8.5" x 14" or 11" x 17")
    (x) dot matrix, ink jet, laser print or photocopy, colour $1.65 per page (8.5" x 11", 8.5" x 14" or 11" x 17")
    (xi) scanned electronic copy of a paper record $0.10 per page
    (xii) photomechanical reproduction of 105 mm cartographic record/plan $3 each
    (xiii) slide duplication $0.95 each
    (xiv) audio cassette tape (90 minutes or fewer) duplication $5 per cassette plus $7 per 1/4 hour of recording
    (xv) video cassette recorder (VHS) tape (120 minutes or fewer) duplication $5 per cassette plus $7 per 1/4 hour of recording

The actual cost to the public body of providing the above service(s)

 

How to minimize fees for FOI requests

There is no basic fee for submitting a request for access to records in B.C.; however, depending on the size and complexity of an FOI general request, fees may be charged for services provided. One way to eliminate or minimize the fees incurred is to be as specific as possible when making the initial request. Broad requests for ‘any and all information’ about a topic will require substantial time and effort to process, often going far beyond the initial three hours.

Before making a formal FOI request, be sure to Search Open Information Resources to determine if the request has been made by someone else, or if the information has been proactively shared.

Fee waiver

You may apply to have the fees waived if you cannot afford them or if there’s a valid reason to excuse payment, such as the information received deemed a matter of public interest. A simple statement to say you cannot afford the fee is not sufficient: you'll need to provide adequate proof to support your request to have the fee waived. 

Section 75(5) provides additional information about waiving fees.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the Freedom of Information (FOI) process for B.C. government ministries or the Office of the Premier, contact Information Access Operations:

Information Access Operations

PO Box 9569
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9K1

Telephone: 250-387-1321
Fax: 250-387-9843
Email: FOI.Requests@gov.bc.ca