Privacy Act Requests

Requesting Records About Yourself Under the Privacy Act

Under the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, you may request copies of any Department of Commerce records that:

      • are about you and
      • are filed and can be retrieved by your name or a personal identifier (such as your Social Security number).

You can also ask the Department to correct records that are inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.

Please Note:
  • In some cases, the Privacy Act may not allow release of your personal records.
  • The Privacy Act applies only to U.S. citizens and aliens who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
  • The Privacy Act applies only to personal information maintained by agencies in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

The Privacy Act pertains only to information that is maintained in a "system of records," which the Act defines as a group of agency-controlled records from which information is retrieved by a unique identifier, such as an individual's name and/or birth date, social security number, or employee identification number.

Return to top

How to File a Privacy Act Request

All Privacy Act requests must be made in writing. There are three basic elements to a request for records under the Privacy Act:

      1. The request should state that it is being made under the Privacy Act.
      2. The request should include your name, home and email addresses, and signature.
      3. The request should describe the records in as much detail as possible.

You can describe the records by identifying a specific system of records or by describing your contacts or involvement with an agency. If possible, include in your description, information such as the date and place the records were created, file descriptions, subject matter, persons involved, and other pertinent details that will help identify the records.

You are required to provide some proof of identity before records will be disclosed. A completed and signed Certification of Identity form [PDF 107k] will meet this requirement.

When submitting your request by mail, please mark the envelope "PRIVACY ACT REQUEST."

Keep a copy of your request. You may need to refer to it in further correspondence with the agency.

Please Note:

Requests made under the Privacy Act will generally be processed under both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ensure the greatest access to your personal records.

How to file a FOIA request.

Return to top

Where to Request Records

If you know which Department ofCommerce Bureau maintains the records you are seeking, you can request the information directly from that Bureau's FOIA/Privacy Act staff. Otherwise, send your request to the Department's FOIA /Privacy Act Officer.

Return to top

Questions and Comments

Send Questions or Comments on the Commerce Office of Privacy and Open Government programs to

Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce


Page last updated: January 27, 2022