How the City Responds to Public Disclosure Requests

In the interest of transparency and responsibility to all residents, taxpayers and other constituents, the City of Seattle aims to make the process of obtaining public records as easy as possible. Many public records are readily available on Seattle.gov − see Types of Commonly Requested Records.

Some records are not automatically posted online for many reasons, including that they may not be of widespread interest, they are simply too large or they contain confidential information. Many of these records may be obtained through a public disclosure request, though there are some exemptions to disclosure as determined by state law (see the state Sunshine Committee's exemptions from disclosure).

Submitting a request

Requests for records should be submitted through the Public Records Request Center, an online public portal that gives customers the ability to review FAQs, submit requests, make payments, download records, monitor the status of their previously submitted request(s), and communicate with City public disclosure officer(s).

While requesters will continue to have the option of paying for and collecting records in person, as well as via U.S. mail, using the system is strongly encouraged.

Technical issues?

Having technical difficulties? Please see common technical problems that Public Records Request Center customers run into and how to solve them.

What to expect after you submit a request

Within five business days after the receipt of a request, City public disclosure officers will do one or more of the following:

  • Make requested records available for inspection or copying.
  • Acknowledge the receipt of request and provide a reasonable estimate of when requested records will be available.
  • Seek clarification of unclear requests.
  • Deny the request and cite the legal exemption.

Is my request confidential?

Public disclosure requests received by the City of Seattle are public records. Absent applicable exemptions, public disclosure requests are subject to disclosure upon request. This includes any personal information a requestor provides to the City in making a public disclosure request, such as name, residential address, email address or telephone number. Credit card information and other financial information transmitted through the Public Records Request Center's secure payment system is not subject to disclosure. Additional information about the City's privacy practices is available here

Questions?

Contact the Customer Service Bureau
206-684-2489
TTY: 7-1-1