Annex A: Benchmarking on Fees


Jurisdiction

Tiered Fee Structure

Application Fee

Search Fees

Number of Search Hours Free

Preparing and Copying Fees

Delivery

Fee Waiver

Cost to Request Review/Complaints

Model Law

Organisation of American States

No

No

(art. 21)

No

N/A

Yes. Cost of reproduction of the information requested, as set periodically by the Information Commission. The cost shall not exceed the actual cost of the material in which it is reproduced.

Information provided electronically shall be free of charge.

(art. 27)

Yes. Cost of delivery, if requested, as set periodically by the Information Commission.  The cost shall not exceed the actual cost of the same service in the market.

Information provided electronically shall be free of charge.

(art. 27)

Yes

Where the applicant’s income is below a limit set by the Commissioner.

The Commissioner may also set additional rules that allow fees to be waived if it is in the public interest or if the response package is less than a minimum number of pages.

(art. 27)

In addition, where a public authority fails to meet timelines established in the Act, no fees can be imposed

(art. 35(4))

No

Canada

Federal

No

Yes – $5

[section 11 indicates that the fee should not exceed twenty-five dollars, as may be prescribed by regulation.]

Yes

For every hour in excess of five hours that is reasonably required to search for the record and may require that the payment be made before access to the record is given.

(section 11)

Currently set at $2.50/15 minutes for searching non-computerised records

5

Yes

For every hour in excess of five hours that is reasonably required to prepare any part of it for disclosure, and may require that the payment be made before access to the record is given.

(section 11)

Photocopying: $0.20 per page

Producing from a machine-readable record: $5/15 minutesFootnote1

No

Yes

Fees are discretionary under the Act

No

British Columbia

Yes

Applicants are divided into commercial applicants and applicants other than commercial applicants.

Commercial applicant means a person who makes a request for access to a record to obtain information for use in connection with a trade, business, profession or other venture for profit.

Based on this definition, journalists are considered commercial applicants.

Commercial applicants pay the actual cost to the public body of providing the service.

All other applicants pay fees as prescribed by Sch. 1 of the regulations

No

Yes, for locating, retrieving and producing the record;

(section 75(1))

Commercial
Actual cost to the public body of providing that service

Non-Commercial
Locating: $7.50/15 minutes

3

(not available for commercial applicants)

Yes

(section 75(1))

Commercial
Actual cost to the public body of providing that service

Non-Commercial
Producing a record manually and producing a record from a machine
readable record: $7.50/15 minutes
Preparing a record for disclosure and handling a record: $7.50/15 minutes

Photocopying (black and white): $0.25/page
Photocopying (colour): $1.65/page

Yes

(section 75(1))

Shipping: actual cost

Yes

Applicant’s requires waiver in writing.

If the applicant cannot afford the fee or if the record relates to a matter of public interest (including the environment or public health or safety)

(section 75(5))

No

Alberta

No.

However, Alberta does use a minimum threshold system.

After paying the application fees, additional fees are only paid if the amount of the fee exceeds $150.

Where the amount estimated exceeds $150, the total amount is to be charged.

(section 11(4)(5)(6))

Yes

(from Regs, section 11(2))

The amount depends on the type of request made

A one-time request is $25

A “continuing request” that is
processed more than once at predetermined time intervals over a period of up to 2 years is $50.

Yes

From Sch. II of Regs

1. For searching for, locating and retrieving a record

$6.75/15 minutes

None

Yes

A fee may not be charged for the time spent in reviewing a record.

(From Sch. II of Regs)

For producing a record from an electronic record:
(a)  Computer processing: actual cost
(b)   Computer programming: actual cost up to $20.00 per 15 minutes.

For preparing and handling a record for disclosure or supervising the examination of a record: $6.75/15 minutes
Photocopying (black and white): $0.25/page
Photocopying (colour): $0.50/page

Yes

Limited to actual cost for shipping a record or a copy of a record

(From Sch. II of Regs)

Yes

Applicant’s requires waiver in writing.

If the applicant cannot afford the fee or if the record relates to a matter of public interest (including the environment or public health or safety)

(Section 93(3.1))

As well, the Commissioner can confirm or reduce a fee or order a refund, in the appropriate circumstances, including if a time limit is not met

(Section 72(3)(c))

No

Saskatchewan

No

No

Yes

(From Regs, section 6(2))

A fee of $15 for each half-hour (or portion of a half-hour) is payable at the time when access is given.

Where a search and retrieval of electronic data is required, a fee equal to the actual cost of the search and retrieval, including machinery and operator costs, is payable at the time when access is given.

2

Yes

From Regs, section 6(1))

Where time in excess of two hours is spent in searching for a record requested by an applicant, or in preparing it for disclosure, a fee of $15 for each half-hour or portion of a half-hour of that excess time is payable at the time when access is given.

Where access to a record or part of a record is given by providing the applicant with a copy of the record

 

Yes

Where a prescribed circumstance exists, the head may waive payment of all or any part of the prescribed fee.

Where the fees would result in substantial financial hardship and the information is of public interest or is personal information of the applicants.

Fees of $10 or less can also be waived.

(section 9(5))

No

Manitoba

No

No

Although the s. 82(1) of the legislation in Manitoba permits institutions to charge an application fee, s 7(a) of the regulations says that no fee may be charged for an application.

Yes

(section 82(1)) 
$15.00 for each half-hour of searching

2 hours

From Regs

Yes

(section 82(1))

$15.00 for each half-hour of preparing.

Computer programming
(a) internal programming or data processing: $10/15 minutes
(b) external programming or data processing: actual cost

Photocopying: $0.20/page

Yes

(section 82(1)) 

Regular mailing costs cannot be charged, but special courier delivery can be charged at cost.

Yes

At the applicant’s request.

Where the fees would be an unreasonable financial hardship, the request is for their own personal information, or the request is of public interest concerning public health or safety or the environment.       

No

Ontario

No

Yes - $5

(section 24 of the Act; section 5.2 of the Regs)

Yes

The costs of every hour of manual search required to locate a record.

Computer and other costs incurred in locating, retrieving, processing and copying a record;

(section 57(1))

Manually searching: $7.50/15 minutes

None

Yes

The costs of preparing the record for disclosure.

Computer and other costs incurred in locating, retrieving, processing and copying a record;

(section 57(1))

Preparing a record for disclosure, including severing a part of the record: $7.50/15 minutes

Developing a computer program or other method of producing a record from machine readable record: $15/15 minutes 

Photocopying: $0.20/page

Yes

Shipping costs and any other costs incurred in responding to a request for access to a record.

(section 57(1))

Yes

Where it is fair and equitable to do so, considering the actual cost of the request, whether the fee could cause financial hardship, whether the dissemination of the record would benefit public health and safety or if the amount of the fee is less than $5

Yes - $25 ($10 if appeal is related to a request for personal information).

(From regs – section 5.3)

 

Québec

No

Although in addition to the general fee schedule, there are also specific fee schedules for certain specific types of bodies (eg municipal bodies, Société de l'Assurance Automobile du Québec)

No

No

N/A

Yes

The Government may make regulations prescribing fees for the transcription or reproduction of documents or personal information

(section 155)

Photocopies or printed pages: $0.37/page

Yes

The Government may make regulations prescribing fees for the transmission of documents or personal information

(section 155)

No fees are charged if the amount is less than $7.30 (unless the fees are set under a schedule for a specific type of institution)

(From Regs, section 3)

No

New Brunswick

*In 2011 all of the regulations related to fees were repealed. There are no longer fees related to access requests in New Brunswick

No

No longer

The law used to allow reasonable fees for making an application

(section 80(1))

No longer

The law used to allow reasonable fees for searching

(section 80(1))

0

No longer

The law used to allow reasonable fees for preparing and copying

(section 80(1))

No longer

The law used to allow reasonable fees for delivery services

(section 80(1))

No longer applicable

(fee waiver still in law at section 80(7))

No

Nova Scotia

No

Yes - $5

(section 11(1))

Yes

Fees are allowed for locating and retrieving records
(section 11(2)(a))

$15/half-hour

2

Yes

Fees are allowed for preparing the record for disclosure and for providing a copy

(sections 11(2)(b) and (d))

Producing a record manually: $15/half-hour

Producing a record from a machine readable record: actual cost incurred for computer usage and for developing a computer program to produce the record

Preparing a record for disclosure and handling a record: $15/half-hour

Yes

Fees are allowed for shipping and handling the record
(section 11(2)(c))

Fees are limited to actual costs.

Yes

Where the applicant cannot afford the fee, the record relates to a matter of public interest, the fee is less than $5 or for any other reason it is fair to excuse the payment

(sections 11(7) and from Regs, s. 6(9))

No

Prince Edward Island

No

Yes - $5

(section 76(1)

Yes

Fees may be charged for locating and retrieving records

(From Sch. II of Regs)

Locating and retrieving:                                     $10/half hour

2

Yes

Fees may be charged for preparing, handling and copying a record for
disclosure

(From Sch. II of Regs)

Producing a record from an electronic record: actual cost

Preparing and handling a record for disclosure and supervising the examination of a record: $10/half hour

Photocopying: $0.25/page

Yes

Fees may be charged for shipping a record or a copy

(From Sch. II of Regs)

Limited to actual cost

Yes

Where the applicant cannot afford the fee or the record relates to a matter of public interest

(section 76 (3.1))

No

Newfoundland

No

Yes - $5

(section 68)

Yes

Search fees can be charged

(section 68)

Locating and retrieving: $25/hour

4

Yes

Preparation and copying fees may be charged

(section 68)

Providing, manually
producing and severing: $25/hour

Producing a record from information in electronic form: actual cost

Photocopying and printing: $0.25/page

Yes

Delivery services may be charged

(section 68)

Limited to actual cost

Yes

Where the fees would impose an unreasonable hardship, the information is personal and waiving the fees would be fair.

(From Regs, section 4)

A person who requests access to his or her own personal information must pay only the
application fee

(From Fee Schedule)

No

Comparable International Jurisdictions

Australia

No

No

Yes

Fees may be charged for searching for or retrieving a document

$15/hour

(From the Schedule of the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982)

None

Yes

Fees may be charged for specific reproduction cost

(s. 11C(4) of the Act)

Production of a document containing the information in discrete form using a computer: actual cost

Time spent deciding whether to grant, refuse or defer access to the document or to grant access to a copy of the document with deletions: $0 for first five hours, $20 for each subsequent hour

Photocopying: $0.10/page

Yes

Fees may be charged for other specific incidental costs

(s. 11C(4) of the Act)

Delivery fees are limited to actual cost

Yes

An agency can reduce or waive (that is, decide not to impose) a charge. Applicant’s can ask for charges to be reduced or waived when they make an access request, or at any later time.

An agency will consider any reason given for seeking a reduction or waiver, however they are not obligated to waive the fee.

(From the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Fact Sheet on Charges)

In addition, institutions cannot charge fees when timelines are not met

(section 5(2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982)

There is a difference in Australia for reviews (related to administrative issues) and substantive complaints about a refusal to disclose information.

Under the current model, there are no fees for reviews or complaints to the
Information Commissioner.

The situation may change if a bill to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner passes.

Ireland

No

Ireland caps the total level of fees that can be charged by a public body to €500
(s. 27(3)(c))
In addition, Ireland also uses an “overall ceiling limit” (€700) when considering fees. This allows a public authority to refuse to deal with a request where it estimates that the request would exceed the ceiling limit

(s. 37(12)(a))

No

Ireland’s Freedom of Information Act, 2014 was passed in October of this year.

The Act eliminated a €15 application fee

Yes

Fees can be charged for search and retrieval

(s. 27(1))

€20/hour

5

Yes

Fees can be charged for copying

(s. 27(1))

Photocopying: 4 cents/page

No

Yes

Where doing so would be of assistance in understanding a matter of national importance

(s. 27(6))

There are fees to review certain kinds of requests (e.g. €50 for reviews on requests for non-personal information and €15 for third parties appealing a decision of a public body to release their information on public interest grounds)

Mexico

No

However, according to the regulations, departments and entities that provide information services of commercial value may charge for those services as per the applicable regulations (art. 52)

No

No

NA

Yes

Fees can be charged for the cost of materials employed to reproduce the information (art. 27)

Yes

Mailing costs can be charged (art. 27)

Disclosing parties are required to use their best efforts to reduce the costs related to the delivery of the
Information (art. 27).

According the regulations, access to personal information is free of charge (art. 53)

No

New Zealand

No

However, the Charging guidelines for Official Information Act 1982 explain that it is reasonable to recover actual costs involved in producing and supplying information of commercial value.

(section 6.1)

No

Yes

Allows any charge related to the cost of the labour and materials involved in making the information available (s. 15(1A)) 

Search: $38/half hour

1

(as per the Charging guidelines for Official Information Act 1982)

Yes

Allows any charge related to the cost of the labour and materials involved in making the information available (s. 15(1A)) 

Abstracting and collating, copying, transcribing and supervising: $38/half hour

Photocopies (exceeding 20): $0.20/page

Yes

Allows any charge related to the cost of the labour and materials involved in making the information available (s. 15(1A)) 

Yes

Where payment might cause hardship, where disclosure would facilitate good relations with the public or assist the department or organisation in its work and where disclosure or reduction of the fee would be in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of, or effective participation in, the operations or activities of the government, and the disclosure of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.

(From the Charging guidelines for Official Information Act 1982, section 7.1)

No

United Kingdom

No

The United Kingdom sets an “appropriate limit” for fees. A public authority is allowed to refuse to deal with a request where it estimates that the request would exceed the appropriate limit to:

  • either comply with the request in its entirety or;
  • confirm or deny whether the requested

information is held.

The estimate must be reasonable in the
circumstances of the case.

The appropriate limit is currently £600 for central government and £450 for all other public authorities.

(s. 12)

No

Yes

Allows fees for determining whether the institution holds the information and for locating, retrieving and extracting it

(From Regs, section 4(3))

Locating, retrieving: £25/hour

(See Cost and Fees Guidance Documents issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office)

None

Yes

Costs which may be taken into account when assessing fees include reproducing any document

(From Regs, section 6(3)(b))

Extracting (redacting): £25/hour

Reproduction fees are limited to expenses actually incurred.

(See Cost and Fees Guidance Documents issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office)

Yes

Costs which may be taken into account when assessing fees include postage and other forms of transmitting the information

(From Regs, section 6(3)(c))

Delivery fees are limited to expenses actually incurred.

(See Cost and Fees Guidance Documents issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office)

No

However, fees must be limited to the costs the institution reasonably expects to incur in relation to the request

(From Regs, section 4(3))

No

United States

Note: In the US, each agency establishes its own fee schedule, in accordance with the principles set out in the Office of Management and Budget’s FOIA Fee Guidelines

Yes

The US law breaks requesters down into three categories:

  • commercial use requesters;
  • educational institutions, non-commercial scientific institutions, and representatives of the news media; and
  • all requesters who do not fall within either of the preceding two categories

No

Although according to FOI experts, a “processing fee” functions as an application fee.

Yes

The act allows for fees applicable to the processing of requests

(552(a)(4)(A)(i))

"Search" fees include all the time spent looking for responsive material, including page­by-page or line-by-line identification of material within documents. Additionally, agencies may charge for search time even if they fail to locate any records responsive to the request or even if the records located are subsequently determined to be exempt from disclosure

(From FOIA Guidelines)

2

Not applicable for commercial use requesters

Yes

The act allows for fees applicable to the processing of requests

(552(a)(4)(A)(i))

“Review” time includes processing the documents for disclosure, i.e., doing all that is necessary to prepare them for
release, but it does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues

"Duplication" charges represent the reasonable "direct costs" of making
copies of documents.

First 100 pages free (Not applicable to commercial-use
requesters)

(From FOIA Guidelines)

Yes

The act allows for fees applicable to the processing of requests

(552(a) (4)(A)(i))

Yes

Where disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the
operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester

(552(a)(4)(A)(i) and (ii))

Lastly, agencies may not charge search or duplication fees when timelines are not met, absent unusual or exceptional circumstances.

(552(a)(4)(A)(viii))

Yes

Request for review are made directly to the court, with applicable court fees

Requesters can also ask the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) for assistance if a problem arises in processing a request. The OGIS will provide mediation free of charge

Top Rated Right to Information CountriesFootnote2

Serbia

Yes

Under Serbia’s law, certain fees do not apply to journalists requesting a copy of a document for professional reasons, and non-governmental organizations, focusing on human rights who are requesting a copy of a document for the performance of their registered activities (Art. 17, para 4)

No

The law expressly provides that “insight” into a document is free of charge.
(Art 17, para 1)

No

NA

Yes

Fees can be charged for the necessary cost of duplication (Art 17, para 2)

Yes

Fees can be charged for the cost of sending (Art 17, para 2)

Yes

Where the request is related to protection of public health and environment (Art 17, para 4)

No

Slovenia

Yes

Most of the fees only apply for information that will be reused for commercial purposes.

Fees cannot be applied if the information is being used for the purpose of providing information, ensuring freedom of expression, culture, art or for the media

No

The law expressly provides that persons have “free” access to public
information

(art. 5(1))

Yes

Fees can be charged for collecting records (art. 43A(1))

 

None

Yes

Fees can be charged for producing and reproducing records.
(art. 43A(1))

Yes

Applicant may be charged for the material costs for the transmission of a transcript, copy or electronic record of the requested information (art. 34).

There is no express fee waiver in the law, however, many fees can only be levied against information requested for commercial purposes

No

India

No

Yes – 10 rupees

(s. 6(1))

 

Yes

Fees can be charged for the inspection of records,

(From Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005, s. 4(d))

1

Yes

Fees can be charged for each piece of paper copied.

(From Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005, s. 4(a) and (b))

4. for providing the information under sub-subsection (1) of section 7, the fee shall be charged by way of cash
against proper receipt or by demand draft or banks cheque payable to the Accounts Officer of the public authority at the following rates:
(a) two rupees for each page (in A-4 or A-3 size paper) created or copied
b) actual charge or cost price of a copy in larger size paper
(c) actual cost or price for samples or models;

No

Yes

Where the request is from a person who lives below the poverty line

(s. 7(5))

No

Sierra Leone

No

No

No

NA

Yes

Fees can be charged for reproducing records (s. 6(5))

Yes

Fees can be charged for sending the records (s. 6(5))

Yes

Where the applicant falls below a certain income level, the request is for their own personal information or the request is in the public interest (s. 6(4))

No

Endnotes

Footnotes

Footnote 1

There is currently a reference before the Federal Court on fees: Information Commissioner of Canada v. Attorney General of Canada et al. (T-367-13).

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

The Right to Information Ranking looks at the legal structure of a law only. It does not assess implementation. In addition, fee schedules or other information prescribing fee amounts were not available for these jurisdictions, so no dollar figures have been provided.

Return to footnote 2 referrer