Accessing public records

Welcome to our Public Records page. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is the key law for accessing public records from both local governments and state agencies in California, excluding the state Legislature and the courts, which are subject to separate access rules. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the record-access law for all executive branch and independent agencies of the federal government. Additionally, FAC has published a Police Transparency Handbook (Updated in 2023) and a Teacher Guide on Court Access (2021).

As of January 1, 2023, the CPRA has been renumbered according to the CPRA Recodification Act of 2021, which is not intended to change the substantive law relating to access to public records. The CPRA is now located at Government Code sections 7920.000-7931.000. The California Law Revision Commission has published a table showing how previous sections of the CPRA have been renumbered. This version of our CPRA primer reflects these changes.

Accessing Records in CALIFORNIA

navigating the California public Records Act

CPRA Primer

This primer updated in July 2023 by FAC Legal Director David Loy and Legal Fellows Monica Price and Khrystan Policarpio, with contributions from Advocacy Director Ginny LaRoe and Executive Director David Snyder. It was created in 2006 by James Chadwick, then of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.


Frequently asked questions about the California Public Records Act. Published March 2022

CPRA Request Letter

A sample letter template with instructional annotations for writing a CPRA request letter.

CPRA Text of Law

Government Sections 7920.000-7931.000 (external site)

Accessing Federal Public Records

Navigating the Freedom of Information Act

FOIA Request Letter

A sample letter template with instructional annotations and additional resources for writing a FOIA request letter.

FOIA Text Of Law

The full text of the Freedom of Information Act in a form showing all amendments to the statute made by the “FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.”


Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA. Click this box for answers to questions about the law.


Video: Accessing Court Records
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Accessing CA Court Records

California Court records are generally public records, yet are not governed by the California Public Records Act. Familiarize yourself with the relevant statutes and case law to access court records in California with this video, Accessing California Court Records. Presented by Duffy Carolan, a partner of Jassy, Vick, Carolan’s San Francisco office and FAC Board Member. (37:00 minutes)


Video: CRPA Essentials
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CPRA Essentials

The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is the Freedom of Information law for California. It provides a right of access to records in the possession of state and local governments (but excluding the state Legislature and the courts). The CPRA Essentials video is a great introduction for anyone looking to access government records and an excellent refresher for journalists and government officials. Presented by FAC General Counsel Roger Myer of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, San Francisco. (37:00 minutes)