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About the FOIA Process

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. §552, was passed by Congress in 1966 to provide the public with the right to request access to records from any federal agency. Federal agencies are required to disclose the records (or part of the records) requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions that protects information such as personal privacy information, national security, and law enforcement.

NCUA regulations implementing the FOIA may be found at 12 C.F.R. Part 792, Subpart A, but you can read summaries about the following topics below:

Accessing NCUA Records Without a FOIA Request

The first place to start when you are looking for information about the NCUA is right here: The website is a comprehensive source of NCUA information and is all available at your fingertips immediately! NCUA makes the following information available on its website:

  • Final opinions and orders made in the adjudication of administrative cases;
  • Specific agency policy statements; and
  • Administrative staff manuals that affect the public.

Additionally, NCUA makes available news, reports, information about credit unions, and detailed information about NCUA activities, such as the budget, performance, strategic plans, employment, and even internship opportunities.

The FOIA Library provides links to records that are frequently requested under FOIA as well as descriptions of NCUA’s major information systems. You can also search for information already posted online by NCUA and other federal agencies at

How to Make a FOIA Request

If you are unable to find the NCUA information you are seeking at or, you may want to consider filing a FOIA request. The easiest way to submit a FOIA request is directly to NCUA through its eFOIA Public Access Link (PAL).

A FOIA request may be made for any NCUA record. This does not mean, however, that NCUA will disclose every record requested. (see below for information on the FOIA exemptions and exclusions).

The FOIA does not require NCUA to create new records to respond to your request or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to your request. The FOIA also does not require that NCUA explain the meaning of the records it provides in response.

Response Time

NCUA makes every effort to respond to a FOIA request as quickly as possible in the order it is received. Generally, NCUA will respond to a FOIA request within 20 working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays) of its receipt. This response time begins after receipt of your request if your request provides enough information to enable NCUA to locate the records and indicates agreement to pay applicable FOIA fees (or otherwise requests a waiver or reduction of fees).

The 20 working days response time will be delayed or stopped if NCUA needs to contact you to clarify your request or to resolve any dispute regarding the applicability or amount of FOIA fees associated with your request.

NCUA may extend the 20 working days response time by an additional 10 working days under certain circumstances, such as if your request involves a large volume of records or the records are dispersed among several offices.

NCUA will notify you if time beyond 20 working days is needed and offer you the opportunity to modify or limit your request. Alternatively, you may agree to a different timetable to process your request.

Expedited Processing

Under certain conditions, your FOIA request may be processed on an expedited basis if it demonstrates a compelling need for the records. To qualify for expedited processing, your request must include:

  • Statement certifying that the information provided is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief; and
  • Information that demonstrates either:
    1. Failure to obtain the records on an expedited basis poses an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual, or
    2. You represent the news media (as defined in 12 C.F.R. § 792.20) and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged government activity.

Denial of expedited processing may be appealed.


There is no fee to file a FOIA request, but the FOIA permits NCUA to recover some of the direct costs associated with the search, review, and duplication of records (“FOIA fees”).

The FOIA divides requesters into four categories only for the purpose of calculating FOIA fees.

  1. Commercial use (seeks information for use or purpose that furthers a commercial, trade, or for-profit interest).
  2. Educational institution or noncommercial scientific institution (seeks information for an educational purpose, or solely for the purpose of conducting scientific research, and not to promote any product or industry).
  3. Representative of the new media (seeks information for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public).
  4. All other (does not fall into any of the above categories).
If your fee category is You’ll be charged And you’ll receive
Commercial use All search time
All review time
All duplication
0 hours free search
0 hours free review
0 free pages
Educational or noncommercial scientific institution, or news media Duplication Free search
Free review
100 free duplication pages
All others Search time and 
2 hours free search
Free review
100 free duplication pages

NCUA calculates FOIA fees using the chart below. Fees will only be assessed if it exceeds the minimum billing amount of $5.00. Please note that fees are subject to change as costs increase.

Level Fee
Professional Level Staff $50.00 per hour
Clerical Level Staff $19.00 per hour
Computer Searches $50.00 per hour + cost of operating computer
Duplication $0.10 per page
CD ROM $5.00 each

NCUA will notify you if fees are likely to exceed $25.00 (or an amount higher than the maximum amount specified by you in the FOIA request) to give you an opportunity to modify or limit your request.

Fee Waiver or Reduction

You may request a waiver or reduction of any applicable FOIA fees when you submit your request. Applicable FOIA fees may be waived or reduced by NCUA if you can demonstrate that the records requested are:

  • In the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and
  • Not primarily for a commercial interest.

Denial of waiver or reduction may be appealed.

Initial Determination Letter

The FOIA provides access to all NCUA records (or portions of those records), except those records that are protected from disclosure under one of nine exemptions or three exclusions.

NCUA will provide a written initial determination in response to your request regardless of whether it grants or denies your request.

If NCUA grants your request, it will provide you with a copy of the records (or portions of the records) in the form or format you requested (if not specified, the same format as the FOIA request). The initial determination will notify you of any information or records withheld pursuant to a FOIA exemption.

If records are withheld in their entirety, NCUA will specify the number of pages withheld or make a reasonable effort to estimate the volume of the withheld information.

FOIA Exemptions and Exclusions

Not all records that are responsive to a FOIA request are required to be disclosed under the FOIA.

The FOIA authorizes – and in some cases requires - NCUA to withhold information when it reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of nine exemptions.

  1. Exemption 1: Classified information kept secret to protect national defense or and foreign relations.
  2. Exemption 2: Information related solely to NCUA internal personnel rules and practices.
  3. Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
  4. Exemption 4: Trade secrets and commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
  5. Exemption 5: Privileged communications between agencies, including those protected by deliberative process privilege, attorney-work product privilege, and attorney-client privilege.
  6. Exemption 6: Information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy.
  7. Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that:
    1. Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;
    2. Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;
    3. Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
    4. Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of and/or information provided by a confidential source;
    5. Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions; or
    6. Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
  8. Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
  9. Exemption 9: Geological information on wells.

In addition to the nine FOIA exemptions, the FOIA authorizes special protection for certain categories of law enforcement and national security records under three FOIA exclusions. These records are not subject to the FOIA requirements.

NCUA will exclude from the FOIA those records that are related to the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.

Administrative Appeal

The FOIA provides a statutory right to administratively appeal an initial determination if you are not satisfied with the response. There is no fee or cost involved to file an administrative appeal.

You may administratively appeal:

  • Denial of access to requested records, either in its entirety or in part;
  • Denial of your request of a fee waiver or reduction; and/or
  • Denial of your request for expedited processing.

An appeal must be in writing and electronically transmitted, or postmarked, within 90 calendar days from the date of denial. The appeal should include any additional information relevant for consideration.

The appeal must be submitted to NCUA by one of the following methods.

  • Email: (include “FOIA-APPEAL” in the subject line)
  • Mail:

    NCUA Office of General Counsel – FOIA Appeal
    1775 Duke Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314-3428

After an independent review, the NCUA General Counsel will issue a decision on your appeal within 20 working days after receipt of the appeal. If a denial is upheld, the decision will notify you of your right to seek judicial review.

Resolving Disputes

Before you file an administrative appeal, you may wish to contact the NCUA FOIA Public Liaison.

The FOIA Public Liaison can help resolve disputes, including assistance if you are not satisfied with the initial determination, as well as assist you throughout the request process.

Additionally, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), an office part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), offers mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies as an alternative to litigation. OGIS may be contacted in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
Room 2510
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Phone: 301.837.1996
Fax: 301.837.0348
Toll-free: 1.877.684.6448

Judicial Review

You may file a lawsuit in federal court if NCUA fails to respond to your FOIA request or your administrative appeal within the time limits discussed above, or if, after the appeal decision, you still believe that NCUA has not handled your FOIA request in accordance with the law.

Other FOIA Resources

If you are looking for information about financial institutions or financial institution regulators, you may find these links to other agency FOIA sites helpful:

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is the federal agency that charters and supervises banks and savings associations and insures accounts in banks and savings associations.

Federal Reserve Board
The Federal Reserve Board supervises and regulates banks that are members of the Federal Reserve and bank holding companies.

Federal Trade Commission
The FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The Commission also enforces federal antitrust laws that prohibit anticompetitive mergers and other business practices that restrict competition and harm consumers.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) charters, regulates, and supervises national banks.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD's mission is to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.

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