Making a Request for Public Records in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Public Records Law (Law), found at Chapter 66, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws, applies to records made or received by a Massachusetts governmental entity. Unless the requested records fall under an exemption to the Law, the responsive documents must be made available to the requester. A list of exemptions may be found at Chapter 4, Section 7(26) of the Massachusetts General Laws.
The Division of Public Records is not a warehouse for government records. The only records kept in the Division are those that are essential to the business operations of the Division. A requester must, therefore, seek records directly from the entity that created or received them.
While requests for records may be made verbally, in person, it is preferable to make the request in writing to reduce confusion. A copy of the written request is required to file an appeal with the Supervisor of Records.
Anyone may request records directly from the records custodian. The Law does not require any specific format for making a request, but the sample below may be helpful. It is recommended that your request contain the following information:
Date request mailed
Agency Head or Keeper of the Records
Name of Agency
Address of Agency
City, State, Zip Code
Re: Massachusetts Public Records Request
This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10). I am requesting that I be provided a copy of the following records:
[Please include a detailed description of the information you are seeking.]
I recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request. If you expect costs to exceed $10.00, please provide a detailed fee estimate.
The Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 calendar days. If you cannot comply with my request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.
Contact Information (address, email, telephone)
If you do not receive a satisfactory response you may appeal to the Supervisor of Records. See Appealing a Denial of Access to Public Records in Massachusetts for more information.
For additional information about making a request or filing an appeal, see 950 CMR 32.08 (2) or refer to our publication, A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law (PDF).