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Freedom of Information Request Guidelines


Requesting freedom of Information boat records with step by step instructions.

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JUL 3, 2023 - Most boat related records are routinely available directly from respective state and federal agencies. There are, however, circumstances where certain data must be obtained pursuant special request methods. This takes place under an invocation of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or related statutes as enacted on the state or local levels. More information about such regulations can be found in WikiTags. These guidelines will demonstrate how to go about making such requests.

Step 1 - Determine the Needs

Before embarking on a special records or information request you should make sure that what you are looking for is not otherwise routinely available. Almost all government recording agencies have now constructed internet websites that either provide online data or offer information on how to place such an order. These can be identified either through BoatWiki resources or by utilizing internet search engines. The assistance of a qualified boat title or documentation service may also prove convenient, although it will entail additional fees .

Step 2 - Identify the Appropriate Agency

Most governmental agencies have special departments or offices that deal with freedom of information or special record requests. The challenge here is in ferreting out their respective identities and locations along with contact information. Here again is where an internet search comes into play or perhaps professional assistance. If nothing else, a request can be submitted to the most likely agency and they can point you in the right direction if necessary.

Step 3 - Draft a Written Request

Special requests must be presented in writing and signed by the requesting party. Most agencies have forms of their own for such applications that can be downloaded from their website. However, a regular letter drafted on behalf of he requester is also generally acceptable if contains the right wording and definitions. The following citations will usually suffice:
    1. State the name, address, and contact information of the agency to whom it will directed.
    2. Show the date on which submitted.
    3. State the name, address, and contact information of the requester.
    4. Insert a bold reference that states "Freedom of Information Request"
    5. Provide a description of the vessel, it's hull identification number along with a registration number, official documentation number, and vessel name as applicable.
    6. Begin the body with "This request is made pursuant the Freedom of Information Act (federal) or Public Records Act (state or local). It is not necessary to cite the exact statutes.
    7. Clearly describe the specific items or information requested and include date ranges if applicable. Although not usually required, it may help to define your need of such information.
    8. Indicate the preferred method of return transmittal such as regular mail, email, or fax (some agencies no longer use this method).
    9. Request a quotation of exact fees or include credit card information with an authorization not to exceed the anticipated amount. Most items will range from $10.00 to $30.00 depending on the complexity or number of pages involved.
    10. Be sure to sign the request. Notarization is not typically required.
    11. Submit the request by regular mail or email (PDF format). Faxing is not recommended unless suggested by the agency.

Step 4 - Follow Up On the Request

Most agencies are required by law to respond within a reasonable period of time. If you have not received a reply within 30 days you should follow up by contacting the respective agency. If time of the essence, you may confirm the receipt of your request shortly after sending.


Be prepared for redactions that may block out sensitive information that can not be made public for various reasons such as national security,  consumer protections, and enforcement concerns.

Use of these guidelines may have legal, financial, and tax implications. You should consult with an attorney or professional about any such concerns.

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JUL 3, 2023 - Page revised.

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