National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information

There are several laws which govern and regulate access to information in Scotland.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) is an Act of the Scottish Parliament which gives everyone the right to ask for any information held by Scottish public authorities including NRS.

The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 give everyone the right to ask for environmental information held by Scottish public authorities and some other bodies.

The INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009 create a right to discover and view spatial datasets held by Scottish public authorities.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is an Act of Parliament and the UK equivalent of FOISA. This Act will apply to some information we hold in our archives which has been deposited by UK-wide public authorities.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 are the new laws around data protection in the UK. The GDPR gives individuals a right to access information held about them.

Requests we receive for information will be handled under the relevant legislation. For guidance on how to make a request see our Requesting Information page.

For the purpose of responding to Freedom of Information requests we distinguish between two types of information: corporate information and archival information.

Corporate Information

Corporate information is any information created or received in the course of our business transactions. This includes minutes of meetings, accounts and policy decisions. If you are interested in this type of information then you should firstly consult our publication scheme. These list information which is already available to the public either through our websites, as a publication or on request from NRS. The majority of information is free, but should a charge be involved this is clearly indicated. If the information you seek has not yet been made available in our publication schemes then you will need to submit a freedom of information request and we will respond to your request within 20 working days.

Archival Information

Archival information is information contained in our archival collections. Information held in our archives which has already been made available to the public is exempt under FOISA section 25: Information otherwise accessible. You can find out what records are available for consultation either in our search room or online by looking at our catalogues and indexes. If you want to ask a question about information in our open archives you can do so using the details on our contact us page. Some of our archives have access restrictions and this will be shown in their catalogue entry. If you want to access information to which another exemption has been applied restricting access then you will need to submit a freedom of information request. If the information belongs to NRS we will respond to your request within 20 working days. If we have to consult with the public authority which created the record then we will respond within 30 working days.

You can read more about how FOISA applies to NRS and the archives in our custody here:

Freedom of Information and National Records of Scotland

Guidance and tools for records management to help organisations comply with FOISA are available here:

Freedom of Information and Records Management

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s website offers comprehensive guidance on FOI law, the rights of individuals under the legislation, and resources for Scottish public authorities:

Scottish Information Commissioner

Freedom of Information (FOI)/Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) Releases

National Records of Scotland is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. You can access our responses on our FOI/EIR Releases page.