How to write a business email of request to someone you have not had contact with before

Asking people to do things (whether it be to provide you with some information or to get them to do an action) is very common in business. Although this can be done face to face or by a phone call, in some cases it is more advisable to send an email. Although not particularly difficult to do, there are some things which you need to know when writing one. And this is what you'll learn and see here.

In this article with an example, you'll learn how to write an email or letter of request to people who you have not had any contact with before (whether it is to a customer or someone in another company or department). Although similar in many ways to writing an email or letter of request to someone you have, there are differences in them which you need to be aware of when writing one.

To learn what you have to do when writing one of these to someone you know/had contact with before, look at How to write a formal business email of request exercise.

Below you will see an example of a formal business email of request to somebody that you have had no contact with before. But before you do, I will explain what the structure of this type of email is and what needs to be done in each of the parts.

By the way, what you will learn about writing and the example of the email you are going to read is not a marketing email to a customer. In it you are not trying to sell them something extra, you are just trying to get some information from them or to get them to do an action.

To see examples of such marketing emails, look at Sales follow-up email examples & exercise.

Politeness is important

With any email where you are asking something from somebody in a business situation (whether it is to a customer or someone in another company or department), politeness is important.

So don't come across as too demanding and use a tone and vocabulary which is formal and respectful (which you see used in the example below). So don't say "you need to do it", but "this needs to be done" or "please can you…" for example.

This is especially important as they don't know who you are and you don't start off badly with them, as people are less likely to help others who they don't like or don't trust.

Also justify why it is necessary for them to do the things which you are asking them for.

The Structure

This type of email has particular structure in which you have say specific things at certain points:

  • The Introduction: You start the email or letter by first saying who you are and who you represent. Then explain what you are writing about (the topic/subject) and what the email is doing (i.e. you want to ask them some questions or you want something from them).
  • The Body: Then in the next section, you ask them the questions or requests. Start with the most important thing you need them to do.
  • What next: After that towards the end, you finish by saying when you require the information or things by (a specific date or just soon), thank them in advance for doing what you've asked and give them the opportunity to contact you if they need to.
  • The Goodbye: To say goodbye to them at the end, you write "Yours faithfully" or in emails to Americans "Faithfully". We normally use this ending in formal emails/letters if we have not had any contact with the person before.

And that's it. Now you will see all of this being used in an example email.

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on writing emails/letters


In the below email a representative from an energy supply company is contacting a business customer for the first time requesting both some information from them and some actions for them to do.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning and use of the words/phrases in bold are.

Dear Mrs Thompson,

My name is Ian McAdams and I work in customer services for Time Energy. I am writing in regards to some information which we require from you and an action which we would like you to carry out.

Due to a recent change in government tax legislation, all business clients of energy companies are now required to submit their 10 digit company tax number to their energy providers by the 10th June. Could you please add your company tax number to your online account details with us. Please find attached a document which explains how and where to do this.

In addition, we have noticed that there is a slight difference in your account details between the address which we have for where the gas and electricity is supplied to (12 Cavendish Street, Keighley, W.Yorks, BD19 3FG) and the billing address where your bills are sent to (12 Cavendish Street, Keighley, W.Yorks, BD20 5QW). Could you please confirm which of these is the correct one to use and we shall update it on our system.

And lastly, we have to conduct an annual inspection of the gas supply infrastructure at your premises at 12 Cavendish Street, Keighley, W.Yorks to ensure that it is meeting health and safety regulations. Please supply us with a time and date which is convenient for you within the next month for one of our technical specialists to come and undertake the inspection.

If you could deal with these matters as soon as you can, it would be very much appreciated. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on email at or by phone on 07956 45274906.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Ian McAdam
Customer Services Representative

10 ways to write better business emails/letters


There is no vocabulary quiz for this email. However, this shouldn't stop you from thinking about how and when you would use the words/phrases which are highlighted in bold in the above example.


Now that you understand the vocabulary and what to do, practise it by writing your own email of request in English with the new words/phrases.