Name of law: Federal Act Governing Access to Information held by the Federal Government (Freedom of Information Act)

First adopted: 2005

Last modified: 2013-08

RTI Rating last updated: 2015-08


Germany’s legal framework regarding the right to information is even weaker than most other Western European States, falling into the bottom ten of all laws. Beginning with the weak initial recognition of the right to information, Germany also has an inherently limited scheme, as it only applies to executive offices (and other branches’ administrative documents). Germany also has one of the lowest scores in terms of requesting procedures, as almost every aspect of the process, including timelines and fees, is left either ambiguous or undefined. Other laws override the access law, several exceptions are not legitimate and/or harm-tested and the public interest override is very limited. The oversight body is insufficiently independent and lacks the powers needed to do its job properly. There are also no sanctions or protections at all, and the only promotional measures is a requirement to make available lists of the documents held.

The law is also available in its German original here.

Local Experts: Christian Mihr, Daniel Dietrich, Klaus Gronenberg