The National Archives

CONTACT DETAILS (See moreSee less)
Visitor''s address: Bessant Drive, Kew, London, TW9 4DU



United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 8876 3444
Opening hours:

Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm (until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays), first Sunday of every month 11:00–16:00.

Closing dates:

Check our website regarding bank holiday closures in May, late August, Christmas and New Year's Day.


Our building in Kew is accessible via public transport, car, motorbike or bicycle. For sat navs use the postcode TW9 4AD.

See travel information

Access conditions: Accessible to the public
Access information:

Open to all, offering a range of activities and research and leisure spaces, and free Wi-Fi. You will only need a reader’s ticket to access original documents. You do not need a reader's ticket to view microfilm or digital records (surrogate copies or born-digital).

Disabled access: Facilities for disabled people are available
Facilities for disabled people:

We provide full access to all our public areas; there is a lift to upper floors; and the building and grounds are wheelchair-friendly. We also have a range of facilities in our reading rooms to help disabled visitors with their research. Further information at

Terms of use:

All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated

Reader's ticket:

You will only need a reader’s ticket to access original documents. You can request it online and collect it on the day of your visit with two documents: one proof of identity and one proof of address. Full details about acceptable documents are available online.

Searchroom: 440 places
Ordering documents in advance:

You can pre-order up to 12 documents in advance of your visit. Bulk orders of 20-40 documents may also be possible.

Searchroom contact
E-mail address:
44 (0) 20 8876 3444
Archives research service:

We encourage visitors to do their own research and view documents free of charge, although it is possible to use an independent researcher or our own paid search service:

Computer places: 100 places
Microfilm/fiche readers: 12 places
Photograph allowance:
Public internet access: Available

The Library at The National Archives has a collection of books, periodicals and directories on history (including local, family and military history), law, biography, genealogy, as well as a wide range of reference material. Many publications relate to the documents held within archives. A number of digital reference sources are also available. The library collection contains over 68000 published sources.

Library: 68000 books, 800 titles
Library contact
E-mail address:
44 (0) 20 8876 3444
Reproduction services:

Once you have identified a document within Discovery, our catalogue, you can request digital or paper copies of it.

Digitisation service: Available
Photocopying service: Available
Photographic service: Available
Reproduction service contact
E-mail address:
44 (0) 20 8876 3444
Conservation laboratory:

We have both Conservation and Digital Preservation laboratories.

Our Collection Care Department handles all aspects of conservation, including treatment of selected items, support of large-scale digitisation, loans and exhibitions. The department is a centre for research excellence. Our rapidly growing instrumental capacity includes a variety of portable and benchtop non or micro-destructive analytical and imaging techniques for paper, parchment, wax and ink. We carry out research on material composition and degradation, develop novel treatment strategies and work on environmental management and preventive research. We also advise other archives and government departments.

The Digital Archiving Department has a dedicated digital preservation lab to virus check, identify and validate digital objects, in an offline secure and sandboxed environment. We have access to emulated classic operating environments such as Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, XP as well as DOS and various Linux brews. We also have some specialised equipment such as a mid-00s era iMac and BBC micros and laser disc players.

Refreshment area:

The National Archives at Kew has a 160 seat restaurant, two coffee bars, a 40 seat upper terrace and balconies, a 40 seat lower terrace and picnic areas in the gardens.


Visit our 'What's On' webpages for information on a range of events and exhibitions.

Guided tours:
Other services:
Archival and other holdings:

Our archive contains over 17 million historical files created by government and courts of law. From Domesday Book to modern government papers and digital files, our collection includes paper and parchment, digital records and websites, photographs, posters, maps, drawings and paintings. As a general rule, government records that have been selected for permanent preservation were sent to us when they were 30 years old. From 2013 the government has been releasing records when they are 20 years old. Many are also transferred to us earlier, particularly born-digital records.

Our holdings contain vast legal archives covering over eight centuries, from the English common law courts such as King’s Bench; equity courts like Chancery; and civil law courts such as the High Court of Admiralty.

Extent of holdings: Approximately 200 km, and 1.175 petabytes (248 terabytes for records, 155 terabytes for the web archive and 772 terabytes for digital surrogates. m
Date(s) of the holdings: 1086 - 2017
History of the archive:

We are a non-ministerial department, and the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. We are the guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents. Between 2003 and 2006, four bodies joined to form The National Archives: The Public Record Office, The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the Office of Public Sector Information. We work to secure the future of physical and digital records. We are expert advisers in information and records management and are a cultural, academic and heritage institution.

We bring together the skills and specialisms needed in today’s digital world for managing and preserving government information, building on over 170 years of pioneering work in managing an archive of official public records. Our expertise in effective records and information management, and use and re-use of information makes us a valuable resource for over 200 government and public sector bodies; and many other organisations. Since 2011, we have a leadership role for archives across England that was transferred from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. We work with and support a diverse network of archives.

Date of the archives foundation: 1838
Archives act:

Public Records Act 1958, at

Historical Manuscripts Commission Royal Warrant, 1869 and 2003

For further relevant legislation and regulations, including Freedom of Information, see

Archive departments:

The National Archives is led by the Chief Executive, Keeper of Public Records and Historical Manuscripts Commissioner. The organisation is structured under six directorates: Public Engagement, Research and Collections, Digital, Finance and Commercial, Government, and Operations.

Archive building:

The Public Record Office was initially located at Chancery Lane in central London. The first building at Kew was opened in 1977, a great example of Brutalist Architecture. The second building was completed in 1995, both have been refurbished regularly, with a new events auditorium and learning room developed in 2016. There is a large café with a terrace and a coffee bar by the reading rooms. A park with a pond and fountains, benches and wooden tables are open to all. We have over 160 km of record storage at Kew but we also store some of our documents in deep salt mines in Cheshire.

Other information (See moreSee less)
Related resource:
Find an Archive (formerly ARCHON)

A resource managed by The National Archives for the Archives Sector

Manorial Documents Register for England and Wales

A resource managed by The National Archives for the Archives Sector

Alternative/previous name(s) of the archive:

The Public Record Office (1838 - 2003)

Type of archive:

National archives

Last update: 24.06.2019
Archival Material