How do I make a request for records?

The easiest and most efficient way to request public records is through the City of Norfolk online FOIA Records Center. You may request, track and receive your records online. The FOIA Records Center provides handy FAQs on the request process along with links to sources of readily available City of Norfolk data that can be quickly accessed without waiting for a records request.

You may also request records by U.S. Mail, fax, email, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under the Freedom of Information Act. From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect not to put it in writing.

  1. Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity." This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking. 
  2. Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the City or any department, nor does it require the City to create a record that does not exist.
  3. You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the City in the regular course of business. For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff’s efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking. You may also mail or email your request for records from the city. Direct your request online here or to Heather Tierney or Amanda Littlefield  at 810 Union Street Room 409 Norfolk, VA 23510
FOIA Request Site

Show All Answers

1. What are my Freedom of Information Act Rights
2. Is there a cost to obtain records?
3. How quickly will the City respond to my request?
4. What are the rights of requesters & responsibilities of the City?
5. How do I make a request for records?
6. Does it matter why I am requesting the records? Does it matter if I live outside Virginia?
7. What records are not available through FOIA