Frequently Asked Questions

What records do you hold?

As the offical public archive of the United Kingdom government, we hold records covering more than 1,000 years of history. Government records which have been selected for permanent preservation are sent to The National Archives.

You can search descriptions of the records we hold in our Catalogue.

We have a large collection of digitised public records. Go to DocumentsOnline for online access to these records, including Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills, Cabinet papers and First World War medal index cards. Many other records can be viewed in our reading rooms at Kew.

Records held elsewhere

The National Archives does not hold or issue copies of birth, marriage or death certificates. Go to the DirectGov website to order these certificates.

Military service records for the Second World War are kept by the Ministry of Defence: see the Veterans UK website.

Many records are kept in local archives and other organisations. These include:

  • Parish registers
  • Wills after 1858
  • Personal papers and diaries
  • Records of businesses, workhouses and schools

Viewing and ordering

How much does it cost to view documents online?

Documents cost from £3.50 to download and view online.

Why are some documents only available through commercial companies?

Digitising records - we have over 167 kilometres of shelving of records - and making them available on the internet is an enormous task. We therefore work with partners to achieve our vision by participating in the commercial digitisation of genealogical and other records. Find out more about Licensed Internet Associates.

Can I order copies of records?

The record copying service provides copies of all material held by The National Archives. With state of the art digital scanning equipment, we can produce paper copies of records, as well as in a range of electronic formats.

Research

Where do I start my research?

The most useful sources for people who are new to archives are the research signposts. Our family history section provides links to a number of resources for researching family history, both at The National Archives at Kew as well as records available elsewhere. Searching the A2A database can identify documents held in local record offices, and the Moving Here website provides useful information if you have ancestors from overseas.

Can you help me with research?

If you don't want to, or cannot carry out research yourself, you can pay someone else to do it for you, either from The National Archives or an independent researcher.

Visiting The National Archives

Can I visit The National Archives?

The National Archives at Kew is open to the public and free to visit. However, if you are coming as part of a group or school trip, you will need to book. To access original documents, you will need to bring two foms of identification and register for a reader's ticket.

Can I order documents before I visit?

You can order up to six documents in advance of your visit. Remember, you will need a reader's ticket to read original documents so bring two forms of identification with you.

Online Services

What is RSS?

RSS feeds provide summaries to subscribers of new content on a particular website, such as news articles and podcasts.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a video or audio file that you can download from the internet and play on your computer, mp3 player or mobile phone. On this site, you can subscribe to our free selection of podcasts and have them automatically delivered to your computer or, if you'd rather not subscribe to the series, you can download individual podcasts.

How do I make comments, compliments or complaints?

You can use the comments, compliments and complaints form, write to us at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, United Kingdom, or you can call us on +44 (0) 20 8392 5363.

Why should I register and sign-in?

When you register, you will be able to sign in and visit your own 'MyPage'. Here, you can save information related your research on this website and you will also be able to see links to information that we think may be of use to you.