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Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

FOIA FAQ

Can I request all records TSA has on myself?

TSA cannot process a request for “all records” on an individual or for “all communications” between TSA and a third party. You should include a date limitation, a particular topic, and if asking for correspondence, the relevant parties’ names and offices or airports, if known. You can contact the TSA FOIA Branch for assistance in writing a FOIA request. This will ensure we understand which materials you are seeking and help us respond to your request quickly.

Given the variety of programs at TSA and the multiple ways you might have a connection with TSA, we require this additional information about records you are seeking. As TSA operates at over 450 airports and screens on average more than 1.9 million passengers a day, it would be unduly burdensome to conduct a search at over 450 airports and TSA program offices using limited information. Please narrow or otherwise clarify your request by providing specific criteria regarding the records that you are seeking (e.g., time period, airport or other association with TSA, including employment) so that TSA can conduct a reasonable search.

Can I request records about someone else?

You may request records about a third party, but such records may be protected by the Privacy Act and/or FOIA. You will receive greater access to records about a third party by submitting a notarized authorization signed by that individual; a declaration by that individual authorizing disclosure of the records; or proof that the individual is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or an obituary).

Can I request records on behalf of someone else?

If you wish to submit a request for records about another individual on behalf of that individual, you must provide a statement from the subject or an Affirmation Declaration form verifying his or her identity and documenting their agreement that their records may be released to you. If we do not receive this authorization, access to the records will be limited.

How do I make a FOIA or Privacy Act request?

You can submit FOIA and Privacy Act requests electronically via the DHS-TSA FOIA PA Request Form.

You may also submit requests directly to TSA by U.S. mail or email, using the contact information and instructions on the TSA FOIA Requests page. Verbal requests are not accepted.

How do I request my official personnel folder?

Current TSA employees should access their records through the electronic OPF from a government computer. Access from non-government computers will be denied. Please work with your local management to request access to a government computer for your eOPF request.

In addition, you may request assistance from your facility’s Human Resource/Administrative Office. For additional information, please visit the Office of Personnel Management website.

Former federal civilian employees (the person of record) may obtain copies of most civilian and personnel medical records on file at the National Personnel Records Center, including copies of the Standard Form 50 (Personnel Action) via written request. Different release procedures apply for archival civilian personnel records. Please note, OPFs are retired to the center within 120 days after separation from federal employment. If less than 120 days have elapsed since separation, write to the last employing federal office.

Federal law 5 USC 552a(b) requires that all requests for personnel records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be signed in cursive and dated within the last year. Please identify the documents or information needed and explain the purpose of your request.

Certain basic information needed to locate civilian personnel records includes the full name used during federal employment, date of birth, Social Security Number, name and location of employing federal agency, and beginning and ending dates of federal service.

Written requests must be signed and dated. Mail or fax to:

National Personnel Records Center, Annex
1411 Boulder Boulevard
Valmeyer, IL 62295

Fax: 618-935-3014

How do I request my Worker’s Compensation file?

Current or former federal civilian employees seeking worker’s compensation file records may receive a more complete set of records by directly contacting the Department of Labor.

How long does it take to receive a response?

TSA processes requests on a first-come, first-served basis according to two tracks: simple and complex. The first response you receive is TSA’s acknowledgement of your request submission. TSA typically acknowledges requests within 10 days of receipt. The acknowledgment letter provides tracking numbers and informs a requester about whether additional information will be needed to process the request. The letter also provides instructions for checking the status of the request.

If you have not received an acknowledgement from TSA regarding your request within 10 days, you may contact us at 866-364-2872 or email at foia@tsa.dhs.gov to ensure we received your request. Most Internet providers impose a 25-megabyte limit on files sent through email servers. If your request includes attachments that exceed that limit, it may have been blocked.

How long it takes to receive materials from TSA depends on several factors. Our processing time will be determined by the nature of your request, including complexity, scope, and other factors. Requests are deemed complex for reasons that include, but are not limited to, those that require search within multiple offices or airport(s), consultation with multiple DHS components or other agencies, or review of voluminous records from multiple locations. Additionally, the size of TSA’s backlog can affect processing times.

TSA is diligently working through a backlog to more efficiently process all requests.  

What documentation is required to request records about myself?

When you request records about yourself, TSA must verify your identity to ensure that your personal information is released only to you. You can meet this requirement by emailing or mailing the Affirmation Declaration form to TSA.

What exactly can I request?

You may request any information that constitutes an existing TSA record in any format, including an electronic format. Examples of records that may be requested include documents, photographs, videos, sound recordings, drawings, computerized records, electronic mail, and agency policies and procedures.

TSA will conduct a search for records already in existence at the time of the request. Please note the FOIA does not require an agency to create new records, answer questions posed by requesters, complete questionnaires, or attempt to interpret a request that does not identify specific records.

If you request video recordings from airports, please note that the TSA is not the primary custodian of those records. TSA is unlikely to have airport videos unless we obtained them as a result of an alleged checkpoint incident or security breach. Therefore, we recommend that you request video recordings from the local airport authority. Also, be aware that airport authorities generally delete recordings after 30 days.

What if I am not satisfied with the results of a FOIA request?

You may appeal FOIA actions including, but not limited to: denial of records, a no-records response, or agency redactions. Appeals must be in writing and sent to foia@tsa.dhs.gov or to:

Civil Rights & Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement
601 South 12th Street
West Building, W3-110S
Arlington, VA  20598-6033

Submit your appeal within 90 days from the date of the response letter. Please include the TSA-assigned FOIA request number, the reasons for your appeal, and mark your envelope “FOIA Appeal.” This information is also included in your final TSA FOIA response letter.

What is needed to perfect my FOIA request?

In order for TSA to provide you with exactly what you need, please include in your request details that will help us conduct a robust but targeted search. These details include date, title or name, author, recipient, names of offices, agencies and organizations, subject matter of the record, case number, file designation, and reference number. For requests regarding airport checkpoint experiences, include the name/location of airport, date and time of travel, checkpoint lane and any other details. For more information, please visit the FOIA requests page.

If a request does not provide sufficient descriptive information, we may not be able to identify the records sought. We may ask you for additional information (e.g., specific subject matter, topic, personnel, etc.) if we are unable to process your request. If we cannot contact you or you do not respond within 30 calendar days to our requests for clarification, we will close your request.

The FOIA request form also requires the following information:

  1. Your full name (for a Privacy Act Request), address, telephone number, and, if available, email.
  2. Indication of whether the request is a FOIA and/or a Privacy Act request (if known).
  3. Specific information about the records sought as described above.
  4. Delivery information for the responsive records, e.g., electronically or via mail.
  5. A statement regarding your willingness to pay applicable fees, including any limitations.

What is Sensitive Security Information?

Sensitive Security Information is information that, if publicly released, would be detrimental to transportation security, as defined by 49 CFR Part 1520. Sensitive Security Information is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.

What is the fee for a FOIA request?

There is no fee to make a FOIA request. However, TSA may charge a fee for search, duplication, or review of records depending on the category of the requester.  

Search fees will be charged for all requests except those made by academic institutions, noncommercial scientific institutions, or members of the press.

Review fees will be charged for all commercial use requests. You will be advised if the fees total more than $25. You may also seek a fee waiver in accordance with the DHS FOIA regulations.

What records does TSA provide under FOIA?

Any type of record may be requested. Typically, incident reports at airports, complaints lodged against TSA, weapons surrendered at airports, contracts, and employment application results are requested. When making a request, please provide TSA with information on where the records may be held.

Who can submit a FOIA request?

All citizens and non-citizens, private individuals, academic institutions, public interest groups, corporations, associations, non-profit groups, and state, local, and foreign governments can submit FOIA requests.

Why was my request administratively closed?

DHS regulations at 6 CFR Part 5 permit administrative closure for requests that are not reasonably described or not in compliance with published agency FOIA procedures. If TSA determines that your request is insufficient, we will notify you and work with you to reformulate your request. If you continue to have difficulties, you may opt for additional assistance from the Office of Government Information Services.