Access to information

What you should do
How long does it take
How much does it cost
Forms to complete
Who to contact



About accessing information

The purpose of the Promotion of Access to Information Act is to ensure that people can exercise their constitutional right of access to any information that is required for the exercise or protection of any right and is held by:

  • the State
  • another person.

The motivation for giving effect to the right of access to information is to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in both public and private bodies, and to promote a society in which the people of South Africa have effective access to information to enable them to fully exercise and protect all their rights.

To what information, held by government departments or any public body, can access be obtained?

You may request access to all documentation and records held by any government department, its officials or any other public body. It does not matter when that information came into existence. These include:

  • personal records held by a government department or a public body
  • third party information or records: only with permission from the relevant third party, especially if the documents contain confidential or private information
  • information to which access is not restricted by the Promotion of Access to Information Act
  • the records of Cabinet and its committees
  • records that relate to the judicial function of a court
  • information:
    • obtained by a special tribunal that was established in terms of the law
    • held by a judicial officer of such a court or tribunal
    • held by an individual member of parliament or of a provincial legislature.

The Promotion of Access to Information Act should not be used when:

  • the record is requested to be used in criminal or civil proceedings
  • a criminal or civil proceeding has already commenced.

However, the Access to Information Act is above any other act or legislation that may prohibit you or restrict you from having access to any information.

What you should do

  1. Ask the deputy information officer of the relevant government department to help you access the information or the documents you need.
  2. Complete and submit Form 2 : Request for access to record of public body. You can either obtain it from the office of the relevant department or download it below.
  3. If the information that you seek is not freely available, you will have to pay a request fee. You may also have to pay an access and a search fee.
  4. When requesting information from a public body, you have no obligation to state the reason you wish to exercise or protect your right.

How long does it take

  • The deputy information officer of the department must respond within 30 days of receiving your request.
  • If the information officer or deputy information officer denies you permission to access the information you requested, you may lodge an appeal with the relevant minister of the department or public body concerned.
  • If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome, you may take the matter to court.
  • The information officer or deputy information officer will help you with this process.
  • If the information you requested is not held by the relevant department, but by any other public body, the deputy information officer will transfer your request to the information officer of the relevant public body within 14 days.
  • The relevant public body must respond to your request within the 30 days as prescribed. You will be notified of the transfer of your request to the relevant public body.

How much does it cost

See the Promotion of Access to Information 

Forms to complete

PAIA Forms

Who to contact

If you need assistance or have further questions on how to access any information held in any department or by any public body, please contact the Deputy Information Officer or the Information Officer of the relevant department or public body.

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