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VIII. Fees

There is no initial fee to file a FOIA request and, in the majority of requests made to the EEOC, no fees are charged. However, an agency is entitled to charge photocopying, search, and processing fees, as explained below. Nonetheless, EEOC may not charge search (and in the case of a favored requester, fees for duplication) if it fails to comply with a time limit and unusual or exceptional circumstances are not present.

For the purposes of calculating fees only, the FOIA divides requesters into three categories. First, commercial use requesters may be charged fees for searching for records, processing the records, and photocopying them. Second, educational or noncommercial scientific institutions and representatives of the news media are charged only for photocopying expenses after the first 100 pages. Third, requesters who do not fall into either of these first two categories are charged for searching and photocopying, but there is no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of photocopies. The EEOC currently charges $40.00 per hour for professional search and review time, $20.00 per hour for clerical search and review time and 15 cents per page for photocopying. In all cases, if the costs of routine collection and processing of the fee are likely to equal or exceed the amount of the fee, the EEOC will not charge any fee at all.

You may always include in your request letter a specific statement limiting the amount that you are willing to pay in fees. If you do not do so, the EEOC will assume that you are willing to pay fees of up to $25.00. If it is estimated that the total fees for processing your request will exceed $25.00, you will be notified in writing of the estimate and offered an opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees. If you do not wish to narrow your request, you will be asked to agree to pay the estimated fees.

Generally, you will not be required to pay the fees until the records have been processed and are ready to be sent to you. However, if you have failed to pay fees within 30 days of billing in the past, or if the estimated fees exceed $250.00, you may be required to pay the estimated fees in advance of receipt of the records. Please be aware that if you agree to pay fees for a records search, you may be required to pay such fees even if the search does not locate any responsive records or if the located records are withheld.