Freedom of Information Act

How do I file a Freedom of Information Act request? 

Freedom of Information Act requests must be made in writing and submitted to the Department’s Freedom of Information Officer. While there is a form that you may use (see FORMS in the right-hand column), any written document that includes the following information would be acceptable:

  • Your name (Preferred, but not required)
  • Organization, if applicable
  • Mailing address (Required if seeking paper copies)
  • A phone number where you can be contacted for questions
  • E-mail address (Required if seeking electronic copies of records)
  • A clear description of the records you are requesting (Required) (FOIA is not intended as a medium for answering questions. Questions should be directed to the appropriate Department staff for response.)
  • A declaration that a request is for a commercial purpose if that is your intent(Required) (Section 3.1(c) of the Freedom of Information Act [5 ILCS 140/3.1(c)] makes it a violation to “knowingly obtain a public record for a commercial purpose without disclosing that it is for a commercial purpose.”)
  • If requesting another person's personal or medical information, a signed release or court order authorizing such disclosure is required.

Where do I send a Freedom of Information Act request?

The Department’s Freedom of Information Act Request Form (see FORMS in the right-hand column) or your other written request can be sent to the Department’s Freedom of Information Officer by:

E-mail to:
DPH.FOIA@illinois.gov

  • Please include "Freedom of Information Request" in the subject line of the e-mail.
  • Scan and attach releases or other supportive documents

Fax to:
Freedom of Information Officer 
217-782-3987

Mail to:
Illinois Department of Public Health
Freedom of Information Officer
535 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761-0001

Does it cost anything?

Pursuant to the Act, there is a charge for request responses exceeding 50 pages. The fee is 15 cents per page starting at page 51. For example, the fee for a 100 page response would be $7.50 - 50 pages x $0.15. Fees in excess of 15 cents per page may be charged if the requested records are subject to statutory provisions permitting the Department to charge a fee for copies.

Do you accept credit cards for fee payments?

The Department is not capable of accepting credit card payments at this time for Freedom of Information Act requests. Fees need to be paid by check or money order payable to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Payments must be sent ALONG WITH A COPY OF THE “FEE NOTICE” LETTER to:

Validation Unit
Illinois Department of Public Health
P.O. Box 4263
535 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62708-4263

How long will it take to obtain the records?

The Freedom of Information Act requires the Department to respond to non-commercial requests within five business days or a date which is mutually agreed upon by the Department and the requestor. The Department can ask for an additional five business days in which to respond under certain circumstances outlined in the Act and upon the provision of a written notice to the requestor. Commercial requests must be responded to within 21 business days.

It can be expected that the Department will ask for additional time for nursing home requests because of the number and size of those requests.

Can you send me the records by overnight mail?

The Department does not pay to send the records by overnight mail. At the discretion of the Freedom of Information Officer, you may be able to send the Freedom of Information Officer a pre-addressed return overnight mailer with your billing account number for use in mailing requested records.

What other information do I need to include in my request for records?

If depends on the nature of your request.

Medical Information/Private Information - Requests for medical information about a patient or for private information, you will need to have a signed authorization or release from the patient or subject of the information or their legal representative. If no authorization or release is received with the request, the medical or private information will be redacted (blacked out) or completely withheld.

Environmental – Environmental engineers frequently ask for water well or other environmental records relating to a specific property. These requests should include the legal description of the property.

What is a request for commercial purpose?

Section 2 (C-10) of the Freedom of Information Act defines commercial purpose as:

(T)he use of any part of a public record or records, or information derived from public records, in any form for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services. For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered to be made for a "commercial purpose" when the principal purpose of the request is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education. [5 ILCS 140/2 (C-10)]

Where do I send subpoenas?

Subpoenas are different from Freedom of Information Act requests. They need to be sent to the Department’s Division of Legal Services at:

Division of Legal Services
535 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761-0001