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Filing a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

To file a Freedom of Information (FOI) Access Request a completed ACCESS REQUEST FORM and the $5.00 application fee must be submitted to the Privacy Office.

Please complete the form and email it to The fee may be paid by cheque (made payable to McMaster University) or by cash. Please include a copy of your request with the payment.

Privacy Office (University Secretariat)
McMaster University
Gilmour Hall, Room 210
1280 Main St. West, Hamilton ON L8S 4L8 

You may also request an invoice to pay the application fee by e-payment. Let us know if you would like to request a digital invoice.

Normally requests are processed within 30 days from the time the privacy office receives the request form and application fee, and a letter regarding the disclosure decision will be sent by email. This letter will include the results of our search for responsive records, the decision on the level of access permitted to the request (and any exemptions applied in compliance with FIPPA), and if applicable, any fees remaining to be paid. Responsive records disclosed to requesters will be made available through secure means, and not through email communication. Where the request is for personal information, the request must provide identification before any responsive records are disclosed in order to ensure privacy protection protocols are followed. In some cases, if there are a large number of records to search through, where there are a large number of records responsive to the request, or where the privacy office must communicate with affected third parties, it may be necessary to extend the timeline. If this is the case, a notification of the revised response time will be sent to you.

Describing the information in your request

What information are you requesting?  Please be as specific as possible in describing the records.  The more specific your request, the quicker and more accurately it can be answered. This can include specific dates for the information you are requesting or specific offices where the information is retained. If you are requesting your own personal information, please ensure you provide:

  • your full name;
  • any other names that you have used on the records; and
  • any identifying number that relates to the records, such as your employee number, case number, or student identification number,

Remember, we must verify your identity before we can disclose personal information to you. The privacy office will arrange for a secure means to provide such identification.

Time Period

Provide the specific time period of the requested records.  For example, if you are requesting records for the period January 1, 1993 to August 31, 1994, enter those dates.


General Information

For access to general information, there are fees for photocopying, shipping, manually searching records or preparing them for disclosure. Other fees may be required by an institution in responding to your request.

Personal Information 

Although no fees are charged for the time required to manually search records of personal information, or to prepare such records for disclosure, you may be charged certain other fees, including photocopying fees.


There are mandatory and discretionary exemptions under FIPPA, where the institution may refuse disclosure of a record or part thereof, in order to comply with FIPPA.  Here’s a summary of exemptions to requests for information:

Note: FIPPA does not apply to archival records, labour relations and employment records, and research and teaching materials of an employee or associated person of the university (s.65).