FOIA Fees and Fee Waivers
The FOIA and the Department of the Treasury regulations (at 31 C.F.R. § 1.7) authorize the agency to recover the direct costs of providing information to a FOIA requester. The FOIA fees, which are applicable uniformly throughout the Department of the Treasury, permit FinCEN to charge a fee for document search, review, and reproduction. The total fee depends on the type of request. The FOIA and the Department of the Treasury regulations also set out the specific rules for requesting a fee waiver or a reduction in fees (see Fee Waiver subheading below). Some general principles apply to all requests such as:
- If you are going to request a fee waiver or a reduction in fees, you must do so when you file your initial request for documents.
- You may be charged for search time even if we do not locate any documents responsive to your request or if the documents we locate are denied to you under one of the FOIA's exemptions.
If a determination is made that fees will be charged, the following fee categories will be used to calculate the exact fees for requesters:
Categories of FOIA requesters and requests:
Commercial use requesters are charged the full direct costs for search, review, and reproduction associated with processing requests. Commercial use requesters may be charged for search and review costs even if no records are disclosed.
Commercial use request: A request for information that is from an individual or entity seeking information to further the commercial, trade, or profit interests of the requester.
Educational institution and noncommercial scientific institution requesters are charged the cost of reproduction alone, except that the first 100 pages are provided free of charge. To be included in this category, a requester must show that (1) the request is authorized by and under the auspices of a qualifying institution, and (2) the records are not sought for a commercial use but in furtherance of scholarly research (if the request is from an educational institution) or scientific research (if the request is from a noncommercial scientific institution).
Educational institution request: A request for information that is from a preschool, a public or private elementary or secondary school, an institution of undergraduate higher education, an institution of graduate higher education, an institution of professional education, or an institution of vocational education that operates a program or programs of scholarly research.
Noncommercial scientific institution request: A request for information that is from an institution that is not operated on a commercial, trade, or profit basis and that is operated solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research which is not intended to promote any particular product or industry.
News media requesters are charged the costs of reproduction alone, except that the first 100 pages are provided free of charge. For a request to be included in this category, the requester must qualify as a representative of the news media. The request must be made in the course of gathering news and not for a commercial use.
News media request: A request for information that is from any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public. The term "news" means information about current events or of current interest to the public. Examples of news media entities include television or radio stations and periodical publishers (but only in those instances when the periodicals can qualify as disseminators of news) that make their products available for purchase or subscription by the general public.
All other requesters are charged the direct cost of search and reproduction, except that the first 2 hours of search and the first 100 pages of duplication are free. After the first 2 hours of search time, requesters may be charged for search costs even if no records are disclosed.
All other request:A request for information that does not fit into any of the other requester categories.
Note: The table below is a quick reference of how we assess fees for each category:
|Category||Search Fees||Review Fees||Duplication Fees|
|Educational Institution||No||No||Yes (minus first 100 pages)|
|Non-commercial Scientific Institution||No||No||Yes (minus first 100 pages)|
|News Media||No||No||Yes (minus first 100 pages)|
|All Other||Yes (minus first 2 hours)||No||Yes (minus first 100 pages)|
- Records are duplicated at a rate of $.20 per page.
- For copies prepared by computer, such as tapes or printouts, the requester will be charged the actual cost, including operator time, of production of the tape or printout.
- For other methods of reproduction, the actual direct costs of producing the document(s) will be charged.
- When the fees are anticipated to be more than $25 and the requester has indicated a willingness to pay fees, the request will be processed so that the fees do not exceed the agreed upon amount.
- If the requester has not indicated in advance a willingness to pay fees as high as are anticipated, the requester will be promptly notified of the amount of the anticipated fees and the requester's concurrence with the fee amount will be obtained before the request is processed.
- If the anticipated fees exceed $250 and the requester has a history of prompt payment for information requests, FinCEN may obtain satisfactory assurances that the requester will fully pay the fees anticipated and process the FOIA request without any advance payment.
- If the anticipated fees exceed $250 and the requester has no history of paying fees for information requests, FinCEN may require an advance payment up to the full amount anticipated.
- If the requester has previously failed to pay a fee for information requests, FinCEN may require the requester to pay the fees owed, plus interest, or demonstrate that the full amount owed has been paid, and require the requester to make an advance payment of the full amount of the fees anticipated before a new or pending request is processed.
FinCEN may waive or reduce fees if it is determined that disclosure of the records is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. Fees will not be charged to any requester if the cost of collecting a fee would be equal to or greater than the fee itself. The Freedom of Information Act Officer (or designee) will determine whether a waiver or reduction of fees will be granted and the requester will be notified in writing of the determination.