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Advisory Opinions

The FOIA Council welcomes questions from members of the public, state and local government officials, and the media concerning the interpretation and application of FOIA. While the FOIA Council provides guidance about the requirements of FOIA, it cannot compel the production of records. The FOIA Council does not have authority to mediate disputes, but may be called upon as a resource to offer solutions to resolve FOIA disputes.

The FOIA Council issues both formal, written opinions as well as more informal opinions via the telephone or email. By issuing written advisory opinions, the Council hopes to resolve disputes by clarifying what the law requires and to guide future practices. In addition to sending a signed copy of the letter opinion to the requester, these written opinions will also be posted on the website in chronological order and in a searchable database. If you have a question about FOIA and would like to receive a written advisory opinion, please submit your question in writing, along with any facts relevant to your question. You may email your question to, fax it to (804) 698-1899 [Attn: FOIA Council], or mail it to FOIA Council, 900 E. Main Street, 10th Floor, Richmond, Virginia 23219. Please include a phone number where you may be reached if staff has any questions about your request, as well as a U.S. Mail address where we may send the completed, signed opinion.

The FOIA Council will issue written opinions on a "first-come, first-served" basis. Because of the diligence required to respond thoroughly and accurately to each question, response time may vary depending on the number of inquiries received by the office at any given time as well as the complexity of your particular question. Nonetheless, the FOIA Council will strive to respond to your request within 14 business days.

In addition to issuing written advisory opinions, the staff of the FOIA Council is available for more informal discussions of FOIA questions by phone or via email during regular business hours. You can reach us at (804) 698-1810 [local] or 1-866-448-4100 [toll-free]. Because of the sometimes-high volume of calls, it may be necessary for you to leave a detailed voicemail message. We strive to return all phone calls on the day that they are received. Alternatively, you may email your FOIA question to

As noted on both written opinions and email responses, opinions of the FOIA Council, whether written or verbal, are based on the facts and information provided to the FOIA Council by the person requesting the opinion.

Please note that the FOIA Council will not issue an opinion if litigation is pending concerning the issue in question. Please see our litigation policy for more information.