Freedom of Information Requests

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) establishes the public's right to access government and other public sector records. Information excepted from disclosure is removed from records released through freedom of information (FOI) requests, with the exceptions noted.


Some FOI requests may require payment of a fee. Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Locating, retrieving and producing the record
  • Preparing the record for disclosure
  • Shipping and handling the record
  • Providing a copy of the record

Fees are not charged for:

  • The first three hours spent locating and retrieving a record
  • Time spent removing information from a record
  • Your own personal information

All fees are charged in accordance with FOIPPA and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation.

Fee Estimates

Public sector organizations may be required to provide a fee estimate for an FOI request. Use the following information to compose an estimate:


An FOI request can involve two kinds of files: regular files and mixed files. Regular files contain documents on regular letter or legal sized paper and include few staples or bound reports.  Mixed files contain documents on unusually sized or weighted paper, some pages may be double-sided while others are not, and they may contain maps, plans, bound volumes or other large or unusual sources of information.

Average Records

Use the following averages to estimate the work involved in retrieving a file.


  • The average file folder is one inch thick and contains 200 single-sided pages
  • The average legal-sized records box contains 1,800 single-sided pages
  • The average letter-sized records box contains 2,200 single-sided pages

Microfilm & Microfiche

  • One cubic foot of microfilm averages 108 rolls or 276,000 pages

  • One cubic foot of fiche averages 3360 images

  • Computer Output to Microfiche (COM) at:

    • 24 times reduction averages 63 images

    • 42 times reduction averages 208 images

    • 48 times reduction averages 270 images

  • Aperture cards contain between one and eight images on a 35mm frame

  • Jackets contain between one and 75 images

  • A roll of 16mm comic film averages 3,000 images

  • A roll of 16mm cinematic film averages 2,250 images

Locating & Retrieving Records

When estimating the time required to locate and retrieve a record, consider the following tasks:

  • Reviewing file lists and off-site lists and generating a complete list of files

  • Consulting with colleagues about the content of specific files

  • Recalling boxes from off-site storage  

  • Pulling paper files out of cabinets

  • Pulling specific paper records out of files

  • Reading through files to determine relevance; a typical estimate is 15 minutes per one inch file

  • Determining how many records might be in each file: to quickly generate an average, pull a random sample of files from all of the files you've located, determine the average number of documents in each file in the sample, use this number to generate an estimate for all of the files and add 10% as a buffer

  • Viewing videotapes and listening to audio tapes to determine relevancy

  • Searching email records and printing any of relevance

  • Locating and printing other digital records of relevance

Don't include the cost of retrieving boxes from off-site storage or of shipping boxes back to off-site storage. However, if records are being transported outside the lower mainland and Victoria, government contracts with the British Columbia Archives Branch may not cover the shipping fees and charges may apply.

Preparing Records for Disclosure

Use either a general or specific estimate process, depending on the nature of the request and your internal standards. Don't include the cost of reviewing and removing information from the records.

General Preparation Estimates

Calculate the preparation costs as 1/4 of the cost of copying all required documents or as 1/2 to one minute per page.

Specific Preparation Estimates

Estimate and combine the time required to:

  • Prepare records for photocopying, including removing staples and bindings
  • Photocopy the records
  • Put the file back together, including re-stapling, binding and filing the records  
  • Ensure the package is complete and prepare it for delivery; a typical estimate for preparing a package is 30 minutes for a set of regular documents and 60 minutes for a set of mixed documents


Estimate the cost of creating:

  • Review copies to allow for internal analysis and the removal of sensitive information
  • Release copies to send to the applicant


Include estimates for the cost of:

  • Standard post office shipping rates
  • Courier fees if specifically requested by the applicant

Don't include:

  • The cost of shipping records from a region or district to your office
  • The cost of sending third party notifications by registered mail