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Filing a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

Filing an Access 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. The fee may be paid by cheque (made payable to McMaster University) or by cash.

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

Normally requests are processed within 30 days and a letter regarding the disclosure decision will be sent by regular mail.  This letter will include, if applicable, the fee to be paid before access is granted.  In some cases, if there are a large number of records to search through or where there are a large number of records responsive to the request, it may be necessary to extend the time limit. If this is the case, a notification of the revised response time will be sent by regular mail.

About the Information you want to access

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.

If you are requesting your own personal information, please be sure that you give:

  • 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.

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.  Examples of exclusions and exemptions include:

  • personal information that could invade the privacy of an individual
  • certain records supplied in confidence by a third party
  • most labour relations records
  • records containing certain law enforcement information
  • records that could prejudice intergovernmental relations
  • cabinet records
  • court records