California Public Records Act FAQ
Access to Records
Frequently Asked Questions
About the California Public Records Act
Menu | Access to Records
Q: Do I have to submit a Public Records Act request in writing?
Q: Who can make a Public Records Act request?
A: Anyone can. This includes individuals, organizations and companies. There is no residency requirement, meaning anyone regardless of where they live may request records. In fact, you can request records anonymously, meaning you have a right to request records without disclosing your identity, although if you do not provide contact information such as an anonymous email address, an agency may not be able to communicate with you to help with your request, and it may not be able to provide you with information about any costs that might be necessary to obtain copies of records.
Q: What government agencies are subject to the Public Records Act?
Q: How long does the government have to respond to my request?
Q: What if I need help from the government agency to make my request?
Q: How much can the government charge for records?
A: You generally have a right to inspect most records – i.e., go into a government office and look at them – at no cost. You also have the right to make your own copies using your own devices, such as scanning or photographing the records. If you want the agency to make copies of records, it can charge you for “the direct cost of duplication,” or in some circumstances a specialized “statutory fee” for certain records. It cannot generally charge for time spent searching for, reviewing or redacting records.
Q: Can I request electronic versions of records?
Q: What if my request is denied?
Last updated July 2023