Request City records
Discover the different ways to access information about the City of Sydney.
Project Status: When you need to do this
Our website has an enormous amount of information which is regularly updated and expanded.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for you may need to request the information from our information access team.
Before you start
Search our website
- You can search the website by clicking in the search bar on the top of every webpage.
- To access information about development applications including applications, planners reports and consents from 2004 onwards, first search development applications.
- For older records going as far back as 1842, City Archives and History Resources Catalogue is the best place to begin your search. There are guides to help search the Catalogue for both a simple search and an advanced search.
- View our directory of open access information including contracts information. Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) certain information, known as open access information, must be disclosed by us unless it is not in the public interest to do so.
What you need to do
Make an information access request
No fees or charges apply to information access requests unless you need records scanned. Almost all information that is not readily available online can be provided this way. When making your request, it is important to be specific about the information you need.
Examples of information you can usually request in this way include:
- development applications: applications, planners reports, consents, development submissions and plans (but first, try to search development applications and our online Archives & History Resources Catalogue)
- building and construction related applications and certificates
- plans of management
- local history material
- submissions and complaints with information that would tend to identify third parties removed
- infrastructure maintenance records including footpath and road works.
To make an information access request use one of the following methods:
- Email – describe the information you need in an email addressed to council @cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au
- In-person – make your written request at one of our customer or neighbourhood service centres
- Online – make your request online by clicking the Request City records button.
Request City records
- This will take you to a page where you need to choose one of 3 buttons (log in, register, or proceed without logging in or registering).
- On the page which will then appear enter your details, scroll to the bottom of the page and click next.
- On the third page choose either the ‘Property related’ or ‘Non-property related’ button – most information is available this way, there are no fees or charges unless scanning is required, and there is usually a less than 10-day turnaround.
- Beneath the ‘Non-property related’ button is the formal access request link for a section 41 access application – before choosing this avenue please read 'Make an access application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act' below.
- On the fourth page enter the details of the information you are seeking.
Make an access application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act
From our experience, most customers find it useful to check with us first if an access application or an information access request (see above) is best for them.
Access applications are dealt with by the information access team. Given the amount of information available on our website and through information access requests, we recommend you contact our information access team on 02 9265 9066 or [email protected] before you make a section 41 access application.
Most information that people request can be provided through an information access request, which will usually be dealt with more quickly and will cost nothing unless scanning is required.
You can of course proceed directly to a section 41 access application without contacting us first.
Section 41 applications require an application fee and we charge hourly processing rates in line with the GIPA Act. Decisions on section 41 applications have review rights for applicants and third parties.
Access to certain records may require a section 41 application if they contain private information about people, organisations, or businesses other than you or your organisation or business, or are otherwise sensitive. This requires a balancing of public interest considerations for and against disclosure.
If you do need to make a section 41 access application:
- it must be in an email, or in writing sent by post or handed in at an office of the City of Sydney, or lodged using the online form
- it must clearly indicate that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act
- it must be accompanied by a fee of $30
- it must state the name of the applicant and a postal or email address as the address for correspondence in connection with the application
- it must include such information as is reasonably necessary to enable the government information applied for to be identified.
If applying by email or letter please do not include your credit card details. The City of Sydney has a secure online payment system or you can send a cheque with your letter.
- Email – if making your section 41 access application by email be sure to provide a receipt number for the $30 application fee. Our secure online payment service for a variety of fees and charges is here (you will need a payment reference number – if you do not already have a payment reference number use S084032).
- In-person – submit your section 41 access application and make payment at one of our customer or neighbourhood service centres.
- Online form (button below) – follow the instructions at points 1 and 2 (above), choose the formal access request link below the ‘Non-property related’ button, on the fourth page enter the details of the information you are seeking and then follow the payment process.
Request City records
After you finish
We aim to respond to requests within 10 working days, but response times will vary depending on the current levels of demand on our services and the type of information being requested.
We are required to decide section 41 access applications within 20 working days. In some circumstances legislative provisions allow extensions to this time period.
We provide access with a digital copy whenever we can or by viewing in the Town Hall House reading room or our virtual reading room. For copyright material we will only provide copies if you have the copyright owner’s consent.
More about information access
Under the GIPA Act we proactively release information with a commitment to providing as much information as possible, for free or at the lowest possible cost. It is also our intent to make information easily accessible to the public.
Obtaining property owner information
We will release property owner details if they are a business or corporation. In line with legislation our practice has been not to release individual ownership details without permission. You can apply for individual property ownership information from NSW Land Registry Services.
Agency information guide
You can view our agency information guide.
Where the information relates more closely to the functions of another agency
Where the information relates more closely to the functions of another agency we suggest you approach that agency first.
- in relation to development information the City of Sydney may not have been the consent authority (for example state significant development is usually overseen by the Department of Planning and Environment or its predecessors)
- Transport for NSW may have been the responsible authority for certain road or rail infrastructure
- an accident may have occurred outside the City of Sydney's areas of service.