Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act

DOJ Guide to the FOIA

The United States Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act is a comprehensive legal treatise on the FOIA. The Guide includes detailed discussions of the FOIA’s procedural requirements, nine exemptions, and litigation considerations. Each section contains a detailed analysis of the key judicial opinions issued on the FOIA.

Each chapter of the Guide will be updated by OIP on a rolling basis as significant new developments in FOIA occur.  OIP’s Court Decisions page also provides a regularly updated review of significant FOIA decisions with detailed summaries searchable by key terms and topical categories.

All sections are available as Portable Document Format files, which may be viewed with a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Introduction (posted July 24, 2013)


President Obama’s FOIA Memorandum and Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines (posted July 02, 2013)

Proactive Disclosures (posted August 10, 2009)

Procedural Requirements (updated September 4, 2013)


Fees and Fee Waivers (posted August 23, 2013)

Fees (page 2)
Requester Categories (page 2)
Types of Fees (page 10)
Fee Restrictions (page 13)
Fee Waivers (page 22)

Exemption 1 (posted August 7, 2013)


Exemption 2 (posted March 05, 2013)


Exemption 3 (updated August 13, 2015)

Exemption 4 (posted August 10, 2009)

Exemption 5 (updated May 7, 2014)


Exemption 6 (posted January 10, 2014)

Exemption 7 (posted May 21, 2014)


Exemption 7(A) (posted August 10, 2009)


Exemption 7(B) (updated February 27, 2014)

Exemption 7(C) (posted December 9, 2013)

Exemption 7(D) (posted September 4, 2013)

Exemption 7(E) (posted April 23, 2013)


Exemption 7(F) (updated August 13, 2015)

Exemption 8 (posted April 21, 2015)

Exemption 9 (posted November 20, 2013)

Exclusions (updated March 5, 2014)

Discretionary Disclosure (Posted December 8, 2014)

Waiver (Posted December 8, 2014)

Litigation Considerations (posted November 26, 2013)


Attorney Fees (updated January 29, 2015)


Reverse FOIA (Posted August 10, 2009)


Text of the Freedom of Information Act

Text of the President's Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act

Text of the Attorney General's Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act

Updated December 14, 2015