Making requests under the Privacy Act
On this page
- How to request personal information
- Tips for submitting your request
- Examples of personal information
- Make a request by email or mail
- What happens once you make your request
- What you will receive after processing your request
- Third-party requests
- Requesting personal information about deceased individuals
- Requirements for written consent
- provide a clear and detailed description of the information you are looking for
- give a date range and location (you can also include the units, detachments and/or divisions that hold the records)
- separate your requests so that it's a single request
- home address
- race, ethnic and national origin
- credit card numbers
- criminal records
- educational history
- financial history
- medical history
- any identifiable number, including social insurance number
- religious beliefs
- telephone numbers
- employment history within a non-governmental organization
- views or opinions of another individual about the individual
Under the Privacy Act, Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals, regardless of where they are located, can request access to their personal information held by federal government institutions.
How to request personal information
The easiest way to submit a request is by using the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request service. It's fast and convenient. This service allows you to make online requests for information instead of having to print, scan, mail or email a paper form.
The Government of Canada's online portal lists the information you should have on hand before submitting your request.
Tips for submitting your request
Why do I need to be precise when requesting information
The RCMP is a large, multi-jurisdictional organization with offices and detachments across Canada. We use many different record-keeping systems that are not fully integrated. Searches for records are not done by the ATIP Branch in Ottawa; they are done by the division, detachment, program or employee who holds the records in question. As such, we need to understand the geographic location where your request will primarily be held in order to task it appropriately. For this reason, the more precise the request is, the faster we can respond.
You must include enough information about the records you wish to access to allow an experienced employee of the RCMP, with reasonable effort, to find the records being requested. For example:
Examples of personal information
The Privacy Act, Section 3(a)-(i), outlines the basis of what is considered personal information. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
Some information that is not considered personal includes:
- job classification/functions of a position/job title
- work-related correspondence
- details of employment contract, including salary range
- work telephone and fax number
- personal opinions or views given in the course of employment
RCMP investigations often involve more than one individual. To make it easier for the RCMP to process your request and provide you with the most information, we recommend that you ask any individuals involved in a given incident for their written consent (permission) to release their personal information to you.
Requests for criminal records
You can only obtain your criminal records held by the RCMP through a criminal records check.
There is no cost for a Privacy Act request.
The RCMP's Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Branch continues to face challenges that result in response delays to requests submitted under the Privacy Act. Despite our legislative responsibilities, certain realities prevent us from responding in under 30 days.
Delays can be due to:
- operational requirements that call for RCMP members and employees to be redeployed (for instance, natural disasters like wildfires and flooding, significant investigations, and major events, to name just a few)
- the fact that the RCMP still relies heavily on paper-based processes, with records that have not be digitized
- the extensive search required (more than 750 locations throughout Canada)
- the long term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help streamline your request, try and be as focused and precise as possible. ATIP officials are here to help you get to the core of what you are requesting, in order to assist you to get the information you are requesting as quickly as possible.
The RCMP recognizes the importance of complying with legislated timelines. That is why we are currently overhauling our program and addressing these issues by:
- devoting resources to improve the timeliness of responses
- modernizing policies and procedures within the program to enhance operational efficiency
- expanding training and awareness campaigns for personnel to ensure they understand the obligation to respond within legislated timeframes.
Read the details of our efforts for the next five years in the modernization strategy and action plan.
Make a request by email or mail
If you can't make a request online, you can complete the RCMP's Personal Information Request (Privacy Act) form (PDF document) and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to the address below.
You must include a photocopy of government-issued photo identification with the signature showing (for example: driver's licence or health card).
If you can't download or print the form, you may also submit a letter clearly describing the personal information you are seeking. You must include the following information:
- full name and date of birth
- photocopy of government-issued photo identification with signature showing (e.g., driver's license or health card)
- your signature
- a return address where the information will be sent
- email address or telephone number in case we need clarification
- information about the type of records being requested (e.g., traffic accident report, personnel file, firearms certificate)
- specific location(s) to conduct our search such as towns or detachments
- RCMP file number if available (this information will allow the ATIP Branch to provide you with the specific documents to which you are seeking access)
Mail your form or letter to:
RCMP Access to Information and Privacy Branch
73 Leikin Drive, Mail Stop #61
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R2
What happens once you make your request
How long will it take to receive information?
- Requests are handled in the order in which they are received. We receive a large number of requests on a daily basis and have a significant backlog.
- Once you make your request, the RCMP's ATIP Branch in Ottawa opens a file and identifies where relevant records may be located. Employees located across the country are contacted and asked to provide material, depending on the request.
- The ATIP Branch may also request an extension if more time is needed to collect the information. It can be granted provided the extension is justified.
- Once tasked, RCMP employees must search for all relevant material, which can include electronic files, notebook entries, emails, text messages, etc., and supply them to the ATIP Branch in Ottawa for processing.
- The ATIP Branch may conduct additional consultations, either within the RCMP or with external partners, as needed.
- All of the submitted material is then reviewed by the ATIP Branch, and exemptions and/or exclusions are applied, as outlined by the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The ATIP Branch will then release the material to the requester.
What will you receive after processing your request
After the materials have been processed, requesters receive the following:
- any releasable documents relevant to your request
- a formal response letter citing any exemptions or exclusions applied during the processing of your request, your right to make a complaint and the relevant process, and contact information for the analyst who processed your request should you have any additional questions or concerns.
- Under the Privacy Act, individuals can only access their own personal information held by the federal government. The RCMP may only release personal information to the individual concerned, unless that person gives written consent (permission) to another person or organization (e.g. insurance company, law firm) allowing them to request that information.
- To allow access to more complete information, third-party requesters may wish to obtain written consent (permission) from any of the parties involved in a given file or record. Without that permission, the information the RCMP may release will be limited.
- Requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis, and the time to answer may be affected by the scope and complexity of the request. Requests will not be processed faster if they are sent by a third party, such as a lawyer.
Requesting personal information about deceased individuals
We understand losing a loved one is difficult. Please accept our condolences as we will do our best in attempting to assist you while also continuing to comply with the Privacy Act and its regulations. Personal information of a deceased person under the control of a federal institution is still considered personal for 20 years after the date of death and may not be released. This includes information gathered by the RCMP during an investigation. As such, we are often extremely limited in what we can provide.
- Administration of an estate: If you are an administrator of an estate, the Privacy Act Regulations do permit the release of certain information to allow the executor to carry out their duties. When submitting your request, please include clear documentation that you are the administrator, and how the information is required to settle the estate. This will allow us to work with your file as quick as possible in your difficult time.
- Spouses or family members: If you are a spouse or family that needs to access personal information of a deceased individual that is not related to the administration of the state, the Privacy Act unfortunately does not make provisions to access personal information of a deceased family member that may be contained in an RCMP file.
A subpoena or court order must be addressed to the detachment or unit holding the record and not to the RCMP's ATIP Branch.
Requirements for written consent
A statement of written consent (permission) must include:
- the full name and date of birth of the individual whose personal information is being sought
- the full name of the person/company to whom the consent is being given
- a statement that the individual in question freely and voluntarily gives the RCMP permission to disclose his/her personal information to another individual/ company
- the consenting individual's signature, the date of consent
- a photocopy of government-issued photo identification (with signature showing) for the person giving consent
You must include the original copy of the written consent (permission) with your request. We cannot accept a fax or photocopy.
Sample consent letter
Address (of individual providing consent)
Statement of consent to access personal information
I, FULL NAME, born on DAY, MONTH, YEAR, hereby freely and voluntarily give consent to FULL NAME OF THIRD PARTY to request access to personal information held about me by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in relation to (insert the type of information being requested or RCMP file number if available).
Anyone requesting information from an ATIP office has the right to file a complaint in relation to their request to the Privacy Commissioner at the address below, for example, if they:
- are not satisfied with the response they received from the RCMP
- have not received a response within the legislated timeframe
- have a complaint about how the RCMP collected, used, disclosed, retained and/or disposed of their personal information
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
30, Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 1H3
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