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Rhode Island FOIA procedures

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Each state varies slightly in the procedures used to gain access to public documents. This article serves to describe specifically the steps used in Rhode Island. To read the history and details of Rhode Island’s sunshine laws please see Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act

How to request public records in Rhode Island

Records requests should be directed to the public body in possession of the desired records.

Purpose and use

Request for records may be made for any reason, according to Section §38-2-3 of the APRA. Section §38-2-3(h) clarifies that a public record cannot be withheld based on the purpose for the request, if the purpose is made known to the custodian of the record.

According to APRA §38-2-6, it is illegal to use information obtained from public records to "solicit for commercial purposes, or to obtain a commercial advantage over the party furnishing that information to the public body." People who violate this part of APRA can be criminally charged with up to a $500 fine and/or one year imprisonment, if their violation was knowing and willful.[1]

Who may request public records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Anyone may request public records in Rhode Island. "[E]very person or entity shall have the right to inspect" public documents.[2]


See also: How much do public records cost?

Rhode Island law allows the charging of fees which can include the cost of duplication as well as the cost of the labor involved in the search not to include the first hour of search and not to exceed $15 an hour.[3]

Response time

See also: Request response times by state

Rhode Island law allows 7 days to return open records requests.

See also

External links