Public Disclosure Process and Fees
Snohomish County Public Records Responsibilities
In Washington State, public records are governed by the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56) which pertains to all records prepared, owned, used, or retained by any department or office of Snohomish County government containing information related to the conduct of government or the performance of a governmental function. Snohomish County provides public records in compliance with all applicable laws. For more information about how to submit a request, and what to expect after you do, please review the tabs below.
For more information about how to submit a request, and what to expect after you do, please review the tabs below:
If you are interested in obtaining public records from Snohomish County, we first recommend you check the List of Commonly Requested Records to determine if expedited access methods are available. If the records are not listed please review the Department Description Guide (PDF) before submitting a request to identify which departments are likely to hold the records you are seeking. Snohomish County Superior, Juvenile, and District Court case files and administrative records are not available under the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56), and are instead provided pursuant to Washington State Rule GR 31 for court records and GR 31.1 for administrative records, respectively. To obtain these records, please contact the appropriate Court by visiting their Judicial Services website.
Please note that per Snohomish County Code 2.51.050, all requests for public records must be submitted in writing. There are several methods available for submitting a records request:
- Requests can be submitted through the Public Records Request Portal
- Requests can be mailed to Public Records Officer or to the appropriate departmental Public Records Specialist.
If a request is submitted via email, fax, or by mail, the request will be entered into the Public Request tracking program. Once entered, requests can be tracked through the Public Records Request Portal. When making your request please be as specific as possible so we can conduct a thorough and accurate search. Requests must contain the following information:
- Contact information of the person making the request;
- Reasonable notice that the request is for the disclosure of public records pursuant to the Public Records Act;
- Identification of the requested records by reference to names, title, subject matter, and time frames, or other means adequate for the Public Records Officer, Public Records Specialist, or designee to locate the requested records; and
- Whether or not such request is for a list of individuals, if applicable.
After receipt of your public records request and entry into the Public Records Request Portal, the requestor will receive an auto-generated email acknowledging that the request has been entered into the portal and assigned a tracking number. The County will then respond within 5 working days to communicate one of the following:
- The requested records are available for inspection, delivery, or pickup.
- The requested records are already posted publicly on the County website, and the location where they can be found.
- The request has been received, and a reasonable estimate of the time when records will be made available is provided.
- The request is unclear and clarification is needed to process the request, or an explanation of how we have interpreted your request is provided along with an estimated date when records will be made available.
- The public records request has been denied.
Search, Review, and Production
Your request will be disseminated to applicable departments for search and collection of responsive records. If you want your search limited only to specific departments, or you are unsure which departments you want records from, please indicate this in your request.
Snohomish County generates a large amount of records, and depending on the size and scope of a request, it may take a significant amount of time to search, collect, and review potentially responsive records. In such cases, the County may be required to utilize an installment methodology, as authorized pursuant to RCW 42.56.080. Under this methodology, records would be provided in installments, separated by reasonably estimated periods of time. This allows for some records to be provided mid-process in the event the request is expected to take weeks or months to complete. These installments would continue until all located responsive records have been produced or the request has been abandoned. To ensure you receive the records you are seeking in as short a time frame as possible, please be as specific and descriptive as you can when submitting the request.
Whether records are provided all at once, or in installments, you will receive notification when some or all of the records responsive to your request are available. Depending on the format, quantity, and requested method of delivery, you may be notified that payment is required before the records can be provided. For more information on how we charge for public records, please view the ‘Public Records Fees’ tab on this page. Please also be aware that many factors can delay our ability to provide records by our originally estimated date. If this happens, you will be notified and a new estimated date will be provided.
When reviewing your records, you may notice that some have black boxes where information has been redacted. During review, records may be identified as containing information exempt from release under the law. For these records, the County may deny the production of portions of the record, or withhold them in their entirety – depending on applicable legal exemptions. When records are provided with exemptions, the legal justification for withholding information will be explained using redaction codes and an exemption key. In the case of records being completely withheld, a withholding log will be provided.
Closure and Appeals
Requests can be closed under several conditions:
- All responsive records located for the request have been produced.
- The request was canceled by the requester.
- The request was abandoned by the requester. This could occur if the requester fails to pay for available records, does not respond with information required to conduct a search, or they do not complete and return forms required for disclosure.
If you disagree with the closure of a request or application of an exemption, you may file an official appeal with the Public Records Officer by emailing us directly. Appeals will be responded to within 2 business days after receipt. If you are encountering issues with the handling of a currently open request, it is encouraged that you communicate your concerns to the Public Records Specialist to which it is assigned, or you may contact the Public Records Officer for assistance.
This policy applies to all Snohomish County departments providing records under the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW. This policy supplements Policy Number PRO-001, last revised August 17, 2017. This policy supersedes fee waiver provisions of PRO-SP-001, last revised August 17, 2017.
- Inspection of Records --No fee
- Requestor access or downloading electronic records routinely posted on Snohomish County’s website -- No fee
Snohomish County assesses fees as provided by SCC 2.51.100.
|Photocopies of public records, printed copies of electronic records, or use of agency equipment to photocopy public records||$0.15 per page|
|Electronic copy of scanned paper records||$0.10 per page|
|Files or attachments uploaded to email, cloud-based data storage device, or other means of electronic delivery||$0.05 per every 4 electronic files or attachments|
|Transmission of public records in an electronic format||$0.10 per gigabyte (GB)|
|Digital Storage Media Device provided by Snohomish County (CD/DVD, USB flash drive, External Hard Drive||Actual Cost|
|Postage or delivery charge||Actual Cost|
|Customized Service Charge – RCW 42.56.120(3) – Data compilations prepared or accessed as a customized service||Actual Cost|
|Records for which other costs are authorized pursuant to specific fee statutes—applicable fees will be provided in cost letter on a case by case basis||Varies|
- Snohomish County waives printing, copying, scanning, and transmission fees when those fees total $10.00 or less.
- All applicable charges may be combined when more than one charge applies to records produced in response to a request.
- All applicable charges are assessed for each installment of records.
- Charges may be waived in limited circumstances as identified in this policy.
- Advance notice of potential charges will be provided to allow the requestor the opportunity to revise their request due to cost impacts.
All charges for public records must be paid in advance of providing copies of the records.
Washington Public Records Act Chapter 42.56 RCW
Public Records Act Model Rules Chapter 44-14 WAC
Snohomish County Public Records Policy PRO-001 (PDF)
Snohomish County Public Records Procedure PRO-SP-001 (PDF)
Snohomish County Public Records Fee Schedule (PDF)
Washington State Office of the Attorney General Open Government Resource Manual
Municipal Research and Services Center Public Records Act Overview