Virginia 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 Virginia. To read the history and details of Virginia’s sunshine laws please see Virginia Freedom of Information Act

How to request public records in Virginia

Records requests should be directed to the agency in custody of the desired records.

Purpose and use

The act does not require a statement of purpose and does not restrict the use of records once they have been dispensed to the public.

Who may request public records?

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

Any citizen of Virginia may request public records in the state. All "public records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth". [1] However, Virginia does limit the right of incarcertaed felons to request any records whatsoever. [2]

On January 19, 2009, Mark McBurney (a Rhode Island resident) and Roger Hurlbert (a California resident) filed a federal lawsuit, McBurney and Hurlbert v. McDonnell, with the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to overturn the residency requirement in the Virginia law. A similar residency restriction in the Delaware FOIA law was struck down by a federal court in Lee v. Minner.[3],[4]


See also: How much do public records cost?

Virginia allows fees to be charged for not only the cost of duplication but also the cost of search and maintenance of equipment and databases. However, advanced payment is only required of requests that will cost $200 or more. [5]

Response time

See also: Request response times by state

Virginia law requires open records request responses to be made within 5 business days. However, agencies may petition courts for additional time for larger requests. [6]

See also

External links