U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jun 10, 2023

§ 16.4 - Requests for access; requirements.

(a) Any individual, regardless of age, may submit to the Department a request for access to records of the Department. The request should be made either in person at the Office of, or by mail addressed to, the responsible Privacy Act Officer. Although oral requests may be honored, a requester may be asked to submit his request in writing. The envelope containing the request and the letter itself should both clearly indicate that the subject is a PRIVACY ACT REQUEST FOR ACCESS TO RECORDS.

(b) When a request for access to records is misdirected by the requester, or not addressed as specified in paragraph (a) of this section, the Department official receiving same shall promptly refer it to the appropriate Privacy Act Officer and the time of receipt for processing purposes will be the time when it is received by that official.

(c) When a request for access to records fails to provide necessary information as set forth in paragraph (b) of this section the requester shall be advised that the time of receipt for processing purposes will be the time when the additional necessary information is received by the appropriate official.

(d) The requirements for identification of individuals seeking access to records are as follows:

(1) In person. Each individual making a request in person shall be required to present satisfactory proof of identity. The means of proof, in the order of preference and priority, are:

(i) A document bearing the individual's photograph (for example, passport or military or civilian identification card);

(ii) A document bearing the individual's signature (for example, driver's license, social security card, unemployment insurance book, employer's identification card, national credit card and professional, craft or union membership card); and

(iii) A document bearing neither the photograph nor the signature of the individual (for example, a Medicaid card). In the event the individual can provide no suitable documentation of identity, the Department will require a signed statement asserting the individual's identity and stipulating that the individual understands the penalty provision of 5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3). That penalty provision also appears at § 16.13(a). In order to avoid any unwarranted disclosure of an individual's records, the Department reserves the right to determine to its satisfaction whether proof of identity offered by any individual is adequate.

(2) Not in person. If the individual making a request does not appear in person before a Privacy Act Officer, the information set forth in § 16.3(b)(1) and a certificate of a notary public or equivalent officer empowered to administer oaths must accompany the request. The certificate within or attached to the letter must be substantially in accord with the following text:

City of __________ County of __________:

ss __________ (name of individual), who affixed (his) (her) signature below in my presence, came before me, a ________ (title), in and for the aforesaid County and State, this ______ day of ______, 19—, and established (his) (her) identity to my satisfaction.

My commission expires __________.

__________________ (signature)
If the request follows inquiry under § 16.3, this should be indicated in the request for access in order to facilitate processing.

(3) Parents of minors and legal guardians. An individual acting as the parent of a minor or the legal guardian of the individual to whom a record pertains shall establish his or her personal identity in the same manner prescribed in either paragraph (d) (1) or (2) of this section. In addition, such other individual shall establish his or her representative capacity of parent or legal guardian. In the case of the parent of a minor, the proof of identity shall be a certified or authenticated copy of the minor's birth certificate. In the case of a legal guardian of an individual who has been declared incompetent due to physical or mental incapacity or age by a court of competent jurisdiction, the proof of identity shall be a certified or authenticated copy of the court's order. A parent or legal guardian may act only for a living individual, not for a decedent. A parent or legal guardian may be accompanied during personal access to a record by another individual, provided the provisions of § 16.5(e) are satisfied.

(e) When the provisions of this part are alleged to have the effect of impeding an individual in exercising his or her right to access, the Department will consider alternative suggestions from an individual making a request, regarding proof of identity and access to records.

(f) An individual shall not be required to state a reason or otherwise justify his or her request for access to a record.

[40 FR 39729, Aug. 28, 1975, as amended at 83 FR 26361, June 7, 2018]