New Hampshire, USA

New Hampshire Public Records Guide

New Hampshire Right to Know Law (RTK)

New Hampshire RSA Ch. 91-A

Enacted in 1967, Updated in 1977, Updated in 2008

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. The Law
  3. Resources
  4. Stats

Overview

New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law is a cautionary tale of ill-defined terms. While it’s one of the states that ostensibly has the so-called “citizenship restriction,” its unclear if that refers to citizenship of the state or citizenship of the country, so it really depends on the whim of the particular officer you get. The law broadly apply to “any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body,” but there’s a carve-out for “other files whose disclosure would constitute invasion of privacy.” What that means is up to each individual officer.

Two places where the law is clear, however, is the five day window, which theoretically gives it one of the quickest turnarounds of any state, and restriction against charging processing fees, which would theoretically make it one of the cheapest. However, we say “theoretically” because, as mentioned above, there’s no formal appeals process beyond a lawsuit - so if that window gets blown or an agency charges thousands in “reproduction fees,” there’s no recourse other than calling a lawyer. And while attorney’s fees can are awarded in successful cases, that same loosely defined law is ultimately up to a specific judge’s discretion.

The Law

  • 5 days
  • Can file appeals with the right-to-know ombudsman
  • Broadly applies to “any information created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body.

Supplemental

Definition of public records - [New Hampshire RSA Ch. 91-A:1]

The Details

Can you submit a request if you’re not a resident?

Unclear - law only applies to “citizens,” but that has been interpreted both as “citizen of New Hampshire” and “citizen of the United States”

To whom does this apply?

Executive?

Yes.

Judicial?

No, but judicial records are available under the New Hampshire Constitution Part I, Articles 8 and 22

Legislative?

Yes.

Is there a designated records custodian?

No.

Who is exempted?

The Governor, but gubernatorial records are available under the New Hampshire Constitution Part I, Articles 8 and 22

How can requests be submitted?

In-person?

Unclear.

Verbally?

Unclear.

By mail?

Yes.

By email?

Yes.

How long do they have to respond?

Five days.

Are there provisions regarding the extension of response times?

No.

Does the agency have to give you a tracking number or estimated date of completion?

No.

Can they ask why you ask?

Only in regards to “statistical data sets that may contain personal information,” which can only be released for research purposes.

What enforcement?

Through the Attorney General “any person aggrieved by a violation of this chapter may petition the superior court for injunctive relief.”

Fees?

Only reproduction costs can be charged.

Are there fee waivers for media requests or those made in the public interest?

No.

Attorney’s fees - Can you win them?

Yes.

Exemptions and Appeals

What exemptions exist?

Grand and petit jury records, school records, personal information, and preliminary drafts, and “other files whose disclosure would constitute invasion of privacy.”

To whom does the appeal go?

Requesters can file a complaint with Office of the Right to Know Ombudsman.

Resources

Organizations

Attorneys and Law Firms

The following attorneys and law firms have practiced public records law. Names marked with an asterisk have indicated a willingness to offer pro bono services on a case by case basis.

Successful appeals

News Stories on Public Records Laws in the State

Submit a new link

Blogs and feeds

Public Records Guide and Advice

Newsletters

Big FOIA wins

Have a public records success story? Let us know!

Stats

Requests
Filed726
Completed283
Rejected41
No Responsive Documents149
Awaiting Acknowledgement20
Awaiting Response37
Requiring Action128
Overdue55
Appeals
Appeal awaiting response1
Allowed Response Time
5 days
Average Response Time
114 days
Success Rate
35.26%
Average Fee
$90.76
4.13% of requests have a fee

Top Agencies See All

Agency Requests
New Hampshire State Police 88
Department of Corrections 43
Department of Health and Human Services 35
Office of the Attorney General 28
Manchester Police Department 23
Office of the Governor - New Hampshire 21
Secretary of State 16
University System of New Hampshire 15
New Hampshire Department of Education 13
Department of Motor Vehicles 10

Top Localities See All

Jurisdiction Requests
Manchester, NH 38
Concord, NH 14
Keene, NH 11
Nashua, NH 11
Derry, NH 8
Hillsborough County, NH 6
Lebanon, NH 6
Londonderry, NH 6
Chester, NH 5
Portsmouth, NH 5