(1) A person who wishes to obtain access to a document of an agency or an official document of a Minister under this Act is entitled to apply to the agency or Minister for access to the document.
If a document applied for does not concern the applicant's personal affairs, the applicant must pay, at the time the application is made, an application fee (see section 35B(2)).
For applications on behalf of a child, see section 50A (Applications on behalf of children and matters affecting personal affairs of children).
(2) The application must—
(a) be in writing; and
(b) provide sufficient information concerning the document to enable a responsible officer of the agency or the Minister to identify the document; and
(c) state the address to which notices under this Act may be sent to the applicant; and
(d) if the application is being made on behalf of the applicant—state the name of the applicant and the name of the applicant's agent.
(3) The application is taken only to apply to documents that are, or may be, in existence on the day the application is received.
(4) However, subsection (3) does not prevent an agency or Minister giving access to a document created after the application is received but before notice is given under section 34 (a post-application document).
(5) If an agency or Minister gives a person access to a post-application document—
(a) no processing charge or access charge is payable in relation to the document; and
(b) the person is not entitled to a review under section 52 or part 5 in relation to a decision about the document made in relation to the application concerned.
(6) The application for access to a document may not require an agency or Minister to search for the document from a backup system.
(7) However, subsection (6) does not prevent an agency or Minister searching for a document from a backup system if the agency or Minister considers the search appropriate.
A search for a document from a backup system is not required before access may be refused under section 28A except in the circumstances mentioned in section 28A(4).