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The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Rights and Responsibilities under the Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act, § 2.2-3700, et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media, access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

A public record is any writing or recording – regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format – that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may be withheld only if a specific, statutory exclusion applies.

The purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by the public of governmental activities. FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exclusion allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.

Updated July 21, 2021