Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S. Code § 552) provides public access to government records through written requests. INTERPOL Washington generally follows the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice in its Reference Guide. Please take the following additional factors into consideration when requesting information from INTERPOL Washington:

  • INTERPOL Washington files contain messages transmitted between foreign police and U.S. law enforcement authorities in criminal investigative matters.
  • INTERPOL Washington also maintains administrative files.
  • INTERPOL Washington retrieves information from its files primarily by a person's complete name, date of birth, and place of birth. These data elements are usually essential for a search of INTERPOL Washington records.
  • INTERPOL Washington searches only its own records to respond to FOIA requests. No arrangement for searches of files in foreign countries will be conducted.
  • INTERPOL Washington's records are retained for a period of seven years from the date a case is closed. Therefore, records requested may have been destroyed, or, may not exist in the INTERPOL Washington system. Currently, INTERPOL Washington cases closed prior to 1999 are no longer available.
  • The U.S. Attorney General exempted the records of INTERPOL Washington from sections of the Privacy Act providing for access to certain records (28 C.F.R. § 16.103). Therefore, INTERPOL Washington does not process requests for information under the Privacy Act.
  • Congress also provided special protection in the FOIA for three narrow categories of law enforcement and national security records. The provisions protecting those records are known as “exclusions”. The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant's status has not been officially confirmed. The third exclusion is limited to the FBI and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. When INTERPOL Washington responds to your request it will limit its response to those records that are subject to the FOIA.

FOIA Requester Service Center

INTERPOL Washington has its own FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC), separate from the main center at the Department of Justice. INTERPOL Washington's FRSC serves as the central location for a FOIA requester to contact when seeking information regarding the status of a FOIA request and appropriate information about INTERPOL Washington's FOIA response. The contact information for the INTERPOL Washington staff member responsible for FOIA requests is:

FOIA Public Liaison: FOIA/ PA Specialist
Mailing Address:

INTERPOL Washington
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Attention: Office of General Counsel

Telephone: (202) 616-0201*


*Please be advised that INTERPOL Washington will only respond to FOIA requests by telephone or email for Agency records at the above number or email address. INTERPOL Washington will not respond to requests from private citizens for police or investigative assistance, or answer questions unrelated to a FOIA matter.

FOIA Library:

Many documents are available to the public without having to make a FOIA request. These documents are called “proactive disclosures" because they are automatically posted online by all U.S. Department of Justice components.

Component Description:
The mission of INTERPOL Washington is to serve as the official U.S. representative to INTERPOL and to provide U.S. law enforcement authorities at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels with a central point of communication exchange with the international law enforcement community.

DOJ Reference Guide:
A comprehensive guide to the FOIA that serves as a handbook for obtaining information from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Special information required to make a FOIA request:
The FOIA specifies two requirements for a request for records:

1) the request must "reasonably describe" the records sought and

2) it must be made in accordance with the agency's published FOIA regulations.

In making a FOIA request, please provide a written request, describing the records sought, along with DOJ Form 361, Certificate of Identity Form, or a notarized consent providing the same information, if appropriate.

To Request Information Concerning Another Person:
If the request is for records relating to another person, and disclosure of the records could invade that person's privacy, they ordinarily will not be disclosed. For example, if you seek information that would show that someone else (including your spouse or another member of your immediate family) has ever been the subject of a criminal investigation or was mentioned in a criminal file and you do not provide the subject's consent or proof of their death, in almost all cases, INTERPOL Washington will respond by stating that it will "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of responsive law enforcement records. Such law enforcement information about a living person is released without that person's consent only when no personal privacy interest would be invaded by disclosing the information, such as when the information is already public or required to be made public, or in cases where the individual's privacy interest is outweighed by a strong public interest in disclosure.

Either a written authorization signed under penalty of perjury by that individual permitting disclosure of those records to you, using the DOJ-361 form signed by the individual, or proof that that individual is deceased (for example, a copy of a death certificate or an obituary) will facilitate the processing of your request.

Publicly available information for which a FOIA request is not required:

Multi-track processing:
FOIA requests are placed in one of three tracks. Track one is for those requests which seek and receive expedited processing pursuant to subsection (a)(6)(E) of the FOIA. The second track is for those requests which do not involve voluminous records or lengthy consultations with other entities. Track three is for those requests which involve voluminous records and for which lengthy or numerous consultations are required, or those requests which may involve sensitive records.

Major Information System (PDF)

INTERPOL Washington System of Records Notice




Updated October 24, 2018

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Yes No