Government of B.C.

Before you start

Five things to know before you submit an FOI request:

1 – Contact the ministry

It’s often faster and easier to contact the ministry you believe holds the record(s) you’re looking for.

2 – Check published FOI requests

The Open Information Catalogue, found on the Search Open Information Resources page, may already have the information you’re looking for.

3 – Know the exemptions to FOIPPA

FOIPPA deems some topics as excluded from FOI requests, such as*:

  • Court records, including the records of judges, masters, justices of the peace, judicial administration records or records relating to support services provided to judges;
  • A personal note, communication or draft decision of a person acting in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity; 
  • A record created by or in the custody or control of an officer of the Legislature, related to the exercise of that officer’s function under an Act; and 
  • A record of a question to be used on an examination or test.

*Information retrieved from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia

4 – FOI requests outside of public body records

FOI is not a process to request answers to questions or information that is not contained in public body records. Those questions should be submitted directly to the applicable public bodies, outside of the FOI process.

5 – FOI requests for Crown Corporations & Agencies

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for records from a Crown corporation or Crown agency must be submitted directly to the organization. Most organizations have their own website with information about how to submit an FOI request.

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information

Overview

A General FOI request is intended to provide access to general records, which could be briefing notes, contracts, or records about a specific activity of a non-personal nature. A General FOI is intended to provide access to government records rather than answers to specific questions or general information.

There are many avenues to try before submitting a General FOI request. In many cases, the records you are looking for may already be publicly available. Search Open Information Resources to discover previously released data and records. 

To request and obtain copies of records of a non-personal nature, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) dictates what can, and cannot, be released.

As defined in Part 2, Division 2 of FOIPPA, each section listed below has its own tests to determine if information should be excepted from disclosure through FOI. Refer to those sections to determine the appropriate tests.

Section 12: Cabinet confidences

Section 13: Advice or recommendations

Section 14: Legal advice

Section 15: Harm to law enforcement

Section 16: Harm to intergovernmental relations or negotiations

Section 17: Harm to financial or economic interests of a public body

Section 18: Harm to conservation of heritage sites

Section 18.1: Disclosure harmful to interests of an Indigenous people

Section 19: Harm to individual or public safety

Section 20: Information to be published or released within 60 days

Section 21: Harm to business interests of a third party

Section 22: Harm to personal privacy

Section 22.1: Information relating to abortion services

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for additional information.

Submit a Request

Submit a General FOI Request

Request access to General information held by the B.C. government.

Please Note:

Fees

When you make an FOI request to the provincial government, you can only access records held by those public bodies (ministries or agencies).

There are no application fees or processing fees for personal FOI requests.

Application Fees:

A non-refundable application fee of $10 is required for all General FOI requests. Directing a request to multiple public bodies will result in multiple application fees being assessed. Indigenous governing entities (IGE) are not required to pay application fees. Indigenous governing entity “means an Indigenous entity that exercises governmental functions, and includes but is not limited to an Indigenous governing body as defined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.”

Your request will not be processed until payment is received. Fee payments are accepted 8:30am to 4:30pm PST Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays, by phone at 250-387-1321 option 2. If calling from outside of Victoria, please call toll free at 833-283-8200 option 2. All major credit cards are accepted.

To pay a fee by cheque, please send a cheque or money order made payable to the Minister of Finance, quote your file number and mail it to:

Information Access Operations

PO Box 9569
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9K1

If you would like to access records from another public body outside of government, you will have to submit a request directly to those public bodies. (e.g. Crown Corporations, school districts, health authorities, RCMP)

Processing fees may be charged for:

Please note that additional processing fees may apply to General FOI requests, depending on the size and complexity of the request description. Section 75 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act outlines the processing fees that can be charged for non-personal FOI requests for the following tasks or services:

  • locating, retrieving and producing the record;
  • preparing the record for disclosure;
  • shipping and handling the record;
  • providing a copy of the record.

There are no processing fees charged for:

  • the first three hours spent locating and retrieving a record; or
  • time spent severing (removing) information from a record.

Timeline for General Freedom of Information Requests

A General FOI request may take 30 business days from the date the application fee is received. Additional time may be granted if the request requires an extension due to a large volume of records, additional time is required to consult with public bodies or third parties, or when further communication is required to clarify your request.

Contact

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:

Office:

Fax:

250 387-9843

Toll Free:

Address:

PO Box 9569
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9K1