How do I ask?


Requesting information is simple - all you have to do is ask.

You don't have to mention FOI (although you can), nor do you have to give any reasons for asking, or say why you want the information. You don't even have to live in Scotland.

All you have to do is:

  • Make your request in writing or another form that can be kept for future use such as email, letter, fax, audio or video tape.
    If you want your FOI rights to apply, you can't ask verbally (for example by telephone or at an office) - unless you are asking for environmental information.

  • Include your real full name in the main text of the request and provide an email or postal address so the authority can reply.
    If you use a false name, the authority doesn't have to respond and the Commissioner and the courts won't be able to enforce your rights.

    You must include your full name - it could be your first name and surname (e.g. Jane Smith), or first initial and surname (e.g. J Smith), or title and surname (e.g. Mrs Smith). A first name without a full surname will not be valid. Also, your name must be included in the main text of the request. It's not enough, for example, to rely on your name being visible in an email address or even as the sender of an email.

    You can add other contact information such as a telephone number. It can help speed up the response if the authority can get in touch with you quickly to check a point.

  • Ask for the information you want. Describe the information as clearly and as briefly as you can.
    The clearer you can be, the more likely the authority will respond quickly and accurately. Focus on the information you really want to see - if your request is too broad, it may be refused because of the cost of responding to it.

    If you need the information in a particular format, tell the authority (for example, as a summary, or an audio version). The authority must provide the information in the format you prefer but only as far as is reasonable. In deciding what is reasonable, the authority must not discriminate against you If you have a disability.

  • Send your request to a Scottish public authority.
    It is a good idea to check whether the authority has a special FOI address or contact person. Use these details if you have them. Contact details for individual authorities are available in our Scottish public authority database.

    But even if you don't have an FOI address, you can send your request to anyone in the authority, from a receptionist to a senior official.


  • The public authority has a legal duty to help you if you have any difficulties in making your request, or are unsure of what information you want.
  • There's more useful guidance on making requests available on our Tips for Requesters page.

Your Right to Know - BSL Version