Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INTERPOL Washington’s FOIA Unit has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission as effectively and efficiently as possible while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of our staff. As a result, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your FOIA request or appeal. We will be able to acknowledge requests made electronically more quickly than by mail. You may reach out to INTERPOL Washington’s FOIA Requester Service Center and FOIA Public Liaison if you have any questions about your request. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S. Code § 552) provides public access to government records through written requests. INTERPOL Washington, U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) generally follows the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice in its Reference Guide.
The USNCB has its own FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC), separate from the main center at the Department of Justice. USNCB'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 USNCB's FOIA response.
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 a completed DOJ Form 361, Certificate of Identity Form, or a notarized consent providing the same information, if appropriate.
1st Party/Person Requests
If you are seeking records on yourself, you will be required to verify your identity as required by Department regulation 28 C.F.R. § 16.41(d) (2018). Specifically, if you would like this Office to process your request and search for responsive records in this Office, you will need to either: (1) return a completed Certification of Identity form to this Office; or (2) provide a statement notarized or under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, indicating your full name, place of birth, date of birth, and current address. A Certification of Identity form is available online at http://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-reference-guide-attachment-d-copies-forms. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.3(a)(3)
On March 7, 2019, USNCB joined FOIA.gov to allow individuals who are interested in requesting records to make their request electronically. Going forward, all new FOIA requests may be submitted by visiting FOIA.gov, clicking Create a Request, and then typing INTERPOL – United States National Central Bureau as the agency. Then you will see a button for Start FOIA Request, which will allow you to enter information about yourself and the agency records that you seek to obtain.
Media Requests/3rd Party Requests
If you are a media outlet or third party requesting records on someone other than yourself, you will need to get the permission of that other person by having them complete a Certification of Identity form and listing your name in the Authorization to Release Information to Another Person section of the form or by submitting proof that the individual is deceased. A Certification of Identity form is available online at http://www.justice.gov/oip/doj-reference-guide-attachment-d-copies-forms. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.3(a)(3)
Please take the following additional factors into consideration when requesting information from USNCB:
•USNCB files contain messages transmitted between foreign police and U.S. law enforcement authorities in criminal investigative matters.
•USNCB also maintains administrative files.
•USNCB 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 an effective search of USNCB records.
•USNCB searches only its own records to respond to FOIA requests. No arrangement for searches of files in foreign countries will be conducted.
•USNCB'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 USNCB system. Currently, USNCB cases closed prior to 2012 are no longer available.
•The U.S. Attorney General exempted the records of USNCB from sections of the Privacy Act providing for access to certain records (28 C.F.R. § 16.103). Therefore, USNCB does not process requests for information under the Privacy Act.
•INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, with 194 member countries and headquarters in Lyon, France, maintains its own files and records. More information about the organization is available on its website, www.interpol.int. The Commission for Control of INTERPOL's files (CCF) is an independent and impartial body responsible for ensuring that the processing of personal data by INTERPOL complies with INTERPOL's Constitution and governing rules. It is also the entity responsible for processing requests from individuals for access to, and correction of, any data or records concerning themselves processed in the INTERPOL Information System. Therefore, individuals seeking access to, disclosure of, or seeking to challenge information about themselves, processed by INTERPOL on behalf of its member countries should contact the CCF. For additional information, see: https://www.interpol.int/Who-we-are/Commission-for-the-Control-of-INTERPOL-s-Files-CCF.
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.
Publicly available information for which a FOIA request is not required:
- USNCB Brochure
- INTERPOL Notices Information
- USNCB Introductory Presentation
- USNCB Code of Regulations
The mission of USNCB 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.
What records are excluded from the FOIA?
Congress has 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation 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. So, when an office or agency responds to your request, its response will encompass those records that are subject to the FOIA.
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.
FOIA Requester Service Center Contact Information
FOIA Public Liaison:
FOIA/ PA Specialist
*Please be advised that USNCB will only respond to FOIA requests by telephone or email for Agency records at the above number or email address. USNCB will not respond to requests from private citizens for police or investigative assistance, or answer questions unrelated to a FOIA matter.