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Subject Access Requests Checklist

June 2017

What you need to consider to enable you to handle SARs efficiently and in compliance with the GDPR.


  • Inform data subjects of their right to access data and provide an easily accessible mechanism through which such a request can be submitted (e.g. a dedicated email address).
  • Make sure a SAR policy is in place within the business and that internal procedures on handling of SARs are accurate and complied with. Include, among other elements, provisions on;
    • Responsibilities (who, what)
    • Timing
    • Changes to data
    • Handling requests for rectification, erasure or restriction of processing.
  • Ensure personal data is easily accessible at all times in order to ensure a timely response to SARs and that personal data on specific data subjects can be easily filtered.
  • Where possible, implement standards to respond to SARs, including a standard response.

Upon receipt of a SAR

  • Verify whether you are controller of the data subject’s personal data. If you are not a controller, but merely a processor, inform the data subject and refer them to the actual controller.
  • Verify the identity of the data subject; if needed, request any further evidence on the identity of the data subject.
  • Verity the access request; is it sufficiently substantiated? Is it clear to the data controller what information is requested? If not: request additional information.
  • Verify whether requests are unfounded or excessive (in particular because of their repetitive character); if so, you may refuse to act on the request or charge a reasonable fee.
  • Promptly acknowledge receipt of the SAR and inform the data subject of any costs involved in the processing of the SAR.
  • Verify whether you process the data requested. If you do not process any data, inform the data subject accordingly. At all times make sure the internal SAR policy is followed and progress can be monitored.
  • Ensure data will not be changed as a result of the SAR. Routine changes as part of the processing activities concerned are permitted.
  • Verify whether the data requested also involves data on other data subjects and make sure this data is filtered before the requested data is supplied to the data subject; if data cannot be filtered, ensure that other data subjects have consented to the supply of their data as part of the SAR.

Responding to a SAR

  • Make sure to respond to a SAR within one month after receipt of the request:
    • If more time is needed to respond to complex requests, an extension of another two months is permissible, provided this is communicated to the data subject in a timely manner within the first month;
    • If you do not take action on the request of the data subject, inform the data subject on this decision without delay and at the latest within one month of receipt of the request.
  • If a SAR is submitted in electronic form, any information should preferably be provided by electronic means as well.
  • If data on the data subject is processed, make sure to include as a minimum the following information in the SAR response:
    • the purposes of the processing;
    • the categories of personal data concerned;
    • the recipients or categories of recipients to whom personal data has been or will be disclosed, in particular in third countries or international organisations, including any appropriate safeguards for transfer of data, such as Binding Corporate Rules or EC model clauses;
    • where possible, the envisaged period for which personal data will be stored, or, if not possible, the criteria used to determine that period;
    • the existence of the right to request rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing of personal data concerning the data subject or to object to such processing;
    • the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority;
    • if the data has not been collected from the data subject: the source of such data;
    • the existence of any automated decision-making, including profiling and any meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.
  • Provide a copy of the personal data undergoing processing. This should be provided in a commonly used electronic form if the data subject has submitted the SAR electronically.

If you have any questions on this article or would like to propose a subject to be addressed by the Global Data Hub please contact us.