Is there a minimum elapsed time required before a classified document can become declassified in the U.S.? I am wondering if any classified document can become unclassified at any time or not. I am thinking there's a minimum elapsed time, but I might be wrong.

1 Answer 1


No. A classification decision can be reversed by an original classification authority at any time, and the “declassify by” date on a classified document can be arbitrarily close. For instance, a military order might be set for automatic declassification once the operation is complete.

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    Most material is automatically declassified after 25 years (with some exceptions for highly sensitive information) if it doesn’t have a set “declassify by”date. Almost everything someone might need to know about the US classification system is covered in EO 13526
    – ColleenV
    Aug 14, 2021 at 2:53
  • Also, as evidenced by Trump most recently, the President can declassify something at any time they please.
    – BruceWayne
    Aug 15, 2021 at 1:48

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