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Fees & Categories


There is no initial fee to file a FOIA request and in many cases no fees are charged for processing. The FOIA, however, permits PBGC to recover part of the cost incurred in complying with FOIA requests.

Requester Categories

The FOIA allows agencies to charge requesters for FOIA search, review, copying, and other special services such as courier deliveries. PBGC’s fees practices are governed by the FOIA and by the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Uniform Freedom of Information Act Fee Schedule and Guidelines.

For the purposes of fees only, the FOIA divides requesters into three categories: 1) Commercial Use Requesters; 2) Educational and Non-Commercial Scientific Institution Requesters; 3) Representatives of the News Media; and 4) All Other Requesters.

Commercial requesters may be charged fees for searching for records, processing the records, and photocopying them. On the other hand, educational or noncommercial scientific institutions and representatives of the news media are charged only for photocopying expenses, after the first 100 pages of copies. Requesters who do not fall into either of these two categories are not charged for processing, however, they are charged only for record searches and photocopying. There is no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of photocopies. Specifically, PBGC may recover the following costs:


  • Search/Review time - $54 per hour; PBGC charges $13.50 per one quarter hour increments,

  • Photocopying - 15¢ per page,

  • Computerized records search and reproduction in other than paper format (e.g., computer tapes, disks, and videotapes) - actual costs.


If the potential costs of processing a request is of great concern to you, you may ask for a cost estimate. A FOIA Public Liaison will attempt to let you know roughly what your fees will be before your request is processed. However, it is often difficult to estimate the costs until a search for the requested documents is commenced.

You may include in your request a specific statement limiting the amount that you are willing to pay in fees. If we estimate that the fees for processing your request will exceed the amount you state, we will notify you of the estimate and offer you an opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees. Please note PBGC is authorized to recover search and review costs even if no responsive records are found or, after review, there is no disclosure of records. PBGC does not charge a processing fee if the total processing cost of a request is $25.00 or less.


Fee Waivers

A waiver or reduction of fees may be authorized in cases where disclosure of 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. The mere fact that you are a non-profit organization, or a member of the media does not in and of itself qualify for a fee waiver. In addition, a requester's inability to pay is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.


Expedited Processing

Under certain conditions you may be entitled to have your request processed on an expedited basis, i.e., within ten business days of the date on which the request was received. However, in an effort to treat all requesters equitably, PBGC ordinarily will only expedite a FOIA request in cases in which there is a threat to someone's life or physical safety; the requester is primarily engaged in disseminating information and has established that the request is urgently needed to inform the public concerning some actual or alleged government activity; or where an individual will suffer the loss of substantial due process rights if the records are not processed on an expedited basis.

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