There is no initial fee to make a FOIA request, and in many cases, no fees are charged. However, agencies are authorized by law to recover the direct costs of providing information to a FOIA requester. For purposes of fees only, the FOIA divides requesters into three categories.
- commercial use requesters;
- news media, educational or noncommercial scientific requesters; and
- all other requesters.
Commercial use requesters are charged for search time, review time and duplication and there are no free levels of charges. News media, educational and non- commercial scientific requesters are charged for duplication only, with the first 100 pages provided at no charge. All other requesters are charged for search time, with the first two hours provided at no charge, and duplication, with the first 100 pages provided at no charge. In all cases, if the total fee does not exceed $25.00, HUD will not charge any fee at all. In your request letter or online submission, you may make a specific statement limiting the amount of fees you are willing to pay. If you do not, and the estimated fees exceeds $25.00, you will be given the opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce fees or you will be asked to express your commitment to pay the estimated amount. Ordinarily, you will not be required to actually pay the fee until the records have been processed and are ready to be sent to you. However, if the fee is more than $250.00 or you have a history of failing to pay FOIA fees in a timely manner, HUD will ask you to remit the estimated amount and /or any past due charges before sending you the records.
If you expect or are advised that a fee will be charged, you may request a waiver of those fees. However, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that disclosure of the requested information is in the public entreats because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. For further information please reference the HUD FOIA Regulations at 24 C.F.R. sec. 15.110 (2001).