Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - Home

Australian Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Australian Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Main menu

Are there any charges for processing a Freedom of Information request?

Yes. The main charges are:

  • search and retrieval – $15 per hour
  • decision making – $20 per hour
  • photocopy – 10c per page.

The first five hours of decision making time are free for all applicants. There is no charge for requests for personal information. For full details of all charges see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Is there an application fee for making an FOI request?

No. There is no fee for making an FOI request to an agency or minister for access to a document, or for amending your personal record.

Is there any charge for access to my personal information?

No. There isn't any charge if you are seeking access to a document that contains your own personal information. 'Personal' only includes information about you, and not a third party's personal information or unrelated agency policy or program information contained in the same record. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges and FOI fact sheet 5: Your personal information.

When will I be notified of a charge?

The agency or minister must send you a notice setting out an estimate and the basis for their calculation. Before they process your request, the agency or minister can require you to pay a deposit of 25% of the total estimate, or $20 if the estimate is less than $100. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

What if I disagree with the charge?

If you dispute the estimated charge or ask for it to be waived or reduced, the agency or minister must notify you of its decision within 30 days. You may choose to change your request to reduce the number of documents you are seeking and ask the agency or minister to provide a revised estimate of charges. For more information see FOI fact sheet 12: Your review rights and FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Can I ask for the charge to be reduced or waived?

Yes. You can ask for a charge to be reduced or waived when you make your FOI access request, or later when you are notified of the charge. For full details, including the factors an agency or minister will take into account when deciding whether to reduce a charge, see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

What do I need to provide when asking for a charge to be reduced or waived?

You must explain or provide evidence to support your claim. The agency or minister may take into account a range of factors, including whether the charge would cause you financial hardship or whether giving access to the requested documents is in the public interest. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Will a charge always be reduced or waived if I ask?

No. An agency or minister is not obliged to waive or reduce a charge, even if they accept your reasons. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

When should I pay?

If an agency or minister requires a deposit from you, you must pay it within 30 days or a further period they allow. They can defer work on your FOI request until the deposit is paid (or the agency or minister decides to waive the charge). You must pay the rest of the charge before the agency or minister releases any documents to you. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

How much do I need to pay up front?

You can pay the full amount of the estimated charge up front but often the agency will only require a deposit. You must generally pay any charge in full before you can have access to any documents. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Is the deposit refundable?

No, except in three circumstances:

  • if the agency or minister decides to reduce or waive a charge following your request
  • if the agency or minister, after processing your FOI request, decides that the charge payable is less than the deposit you have paid (in which case you will receive a partial refund)
  • if the agency or minister does not make a decision on your request within the time limit.

If you paid a deposit and the agency or minister decides not to grant you access to any document, you are not entitled to a refund of the deposit. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Can I get an invoice for the charge?

Yes, you can ask the agency to issue an invoice. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.

Can an agency increase the initial estimate of charges that I agreed to pay?

An agency or minister can only require you to pay a higher charge if:

  • more work was involved than the agency or minister had anticipated and
  • the agency or minister gives you full access to all the documents you sought.

The agency or minister may let you know in advance that the final charge is likely to be higher than the estimated charge. For full details see FOI fact sheet 7: Charges.