28 CFR 16.3: Requirements for making requests.
You may make a request for records of the Department of Justice by writing directly to the Department component that maintains those records. You may find the Department's “Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide”—which is available electronically at the Department's World Wide Web site, and is available in paper form as well—helpful in making your request. For additional information about the FOIA, you may refer directly to the statute. If you are making a request for records about yourself, see § 16.41(d) for additional requirements. If you are making a request for records about another individual, either a written authorization signed by that individual permitting disclosure of those records to you or proof that that individual is deceased (for example, a copy of a death certificate or an obituary) will help the processing of your request. Your request should be sent to the component's FOIA office at the address listed in appendix I to part 16. In most cases, your FOIA request should be sent to a component's central FOIA office. For records held by a field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), however, you must write directly to that FBI or INS field office address, which can be found in most telephone books or by calling the component's central FOIA office. (The functions of each component are summarized in part 0 of this title and in the description of the Department and its components in the “United States Government Manual,” which is issued annually and is available in most libraries, as well as for sale from the Government Printing Office's Superintendent of Documents. This manual also can be accessed electronically at the Government Printing Office's World Wide Web site (which can be found at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs).) If you cannot determine where within the Department to send your request, you may send it to the FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit, Justice Management Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20530-0001. That office will forward your request to the component(s) it believes most likely to have the records that you want. Your request will be considered received as of the date it is received by the proper component's FOIA office. For the quickest possible handling, you should mark both your request letter and the envelope “Freedom of Information Act Request.”
You must describe the records that you seek in enough detail to enable Department personnel to locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. Whenever possible, your request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipient, and subject matter of the record. In addition, if you want records about a court case, you should provide the title of the case, the court in which the case was filed, and the nature of the case. If known, you should include any file designations or descriptions for the records that you want. As a general rule, the more specific you are about the records or type of records that you want, the more likely the Department will be able to locate those records in response to your request. If a component determines that your request does not reasonably describe records, it shall tell you either what additional information is needed or why your request is otherwise insufficient. The component also shall give you an opportunity to discuss your request so that you may modify it to meet the requirements of this section. If your request does not reasonably describe the records you seek, the agency's response to your request may be delayed.
If you make a FOIA request, it shall be considered an agreement by you to pay all applicable fees charged under § 16.11, up to $25.00, unless you seek a waiver of fees. The component responsible for responding to your request ordinarily will confirm this agreement in an acknowledgement letter. When making a request, you may specify a willingness to pay a greater or lesser amount.
[Order No. 2156-98, 63 FR 29593, June 1, 1998; 63 FR 51401, Sept. 25, 1998]