Washington Public Record Laws


RCW 42.56

Exemptions to Disclosure

The following records are exempt from disclosure:

  • Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended are exempt under this chapter, except that a specific record is not exempt when publicly cited by an agency in connection with any agency action;
  • Archaeological sites;
  • Certain agricultural information;
  • Sensitive fish and wildlife data;
  • The following financial, commercial, and proprietary information is exempt from disclosure under this chapter: “Valuable formulae, designs, drawings, computer source code or object code, and research data obtained by any agency within five years of the request for disclosure when disclosure would produce private gain and public loss;”

Access Rights

  • Any person
  • No stated purpose necessary
  • Request must be sent by mail
  • Records available during business hours for inspection and copying
  • No fees for inspecting records, and no fees can be charged for locating records
  • Actual copy costs can be charged
  • Response must be made promptly

Destruction of Public Records

RCW 40.14.060 states that records can only be destroyed pursuant to the retention schedule.


If a public record request is made at a time when such record exists but is scheduled for destruction in the near future, the agency, the office of the secretary of the senate, or the office of the chief clerk of the house of representatives shall retain possession of the record, and may not destroy or erase the record until the request is resolved. Rev. Code Wash.

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