How to file a Freedom of Information Act request in S.C.


Access to agency records and certain information is protected under federal law to allow the public access to information that has not been disclosed through government entities or other officials.

This information may be provided through a Freedom of Information Act request if it has not already been released to the public, but some might not know the proper way to send a request and how the law works. It's not something widely taught in school or common knowledge to most.

Before making a request, first see if the information you are interested in is already made public.

When sending in a request, there are key things to remember. Be as detailed as possible about what you are requesting, if the fee is more than $100 ask the agency/person to contact you before proceeding with the request, and consult the FOIA booklet at during the process.

Most agencies have a form on their website or office that you can fill out, but you can also send an email requesting the same information. Usually on an agency's website there is a specific person to contact for FOIA requests, but if not, try to reach out to the top person of a specific department the request is tailored to.

Whichever way the request is being sent, email or form, make sure to be detailed about what you are requesting. This is key to not only make sure the documents received are exactly what you want, but also so the agency/person gives every document without missing anything. It also helps both parties form a proper fee.

In the South Carolina Code of Laws, which can be found on the South Carolina state House website, section 30-4-30(b) states "the public body may establish and collect fees as provided for in this section. The public body may establish and collect reasonable fees not to exceed the actual cost of the search, retrieval, and redaction of records. The public body shall develop a fee schedule to be posted online."

It also helps in the request if you ask for an itemized list of what is being charged through the fee given, if applicable.

After sending the request to the appropriate party, the law states in section 30-4-30(c) "each public body shall within 10 days, (excepting Saturdays, Sundays and legal public holidays) notify the person making the request of its determination and reasons for it. If the record is more than 24 months old the response time is 20 days instead."

Once the determination has been given if the agency will disclosed the information requested, it has 30 business days to provide the requested documents.