Agency access to records for legal proceedings

The National Archives recommends your agency seek legal advice on releasing records that are not yet in the open access period as these records may contain sensitive information that includes but is not limited to national security, is commercial in confidence or relates to personal affairs.

Access to records in the National Archives

Access to documents held by the National Archives is provided in a number of ways outlined below. If an agency has identified a record of interest held by the National Archives please contact our Lending Service to make further enquiries or arrangements.

Certified copies of records

The National Archives can make certified copies of records in our collection for a fee. Fragile records can be inspected on National Archives' premises. Please contact our National Reference Service via Ask us a question if you wish to request certification, or view records.

Inspection at the National Archives

Records in the open access period can be inspected by prior arrangement at the reading room in the capital city where the records are stored.

Authorised staff from the controlling agency can view records not yet in the open access period on the National Archives' premises under Official access.

Others parties will need official access authorisation from the controlling agency to view records at one of our reading rooms. Please contact our National Reference Service if you require more information.

Agency Digitisation Service

From 1 January 2018, access to unclassified paper records will be provided through the Agency Digitisation Service.  The service is available in all regions and will enable agencies to receive digital records by secure file transfer (SFT) irrespective of the regional office of the Archives in which the original records are held. For further information see Agency Digitisation Service.

Access to original records

Under the Agency Digitisation Service the agency may retrieve the original record under certain circumstances such as when it is needed for legal proceedings and a digitised copy is not acceptable. See Emergency Access Provisions or contact the National Archives Lending Service for advice.

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