Records in the open access period cannot be removed from the National Archives. Agencies can view records already digitised and made available online to the public or in a National Archives' Reading Room.
From 1 January 2018, the National Archives will provide access to unclassified paper records through the Agency Digitisation Service (ADS). The following types of records are currently exempt from the ADS and may be issued to the controlling agency:
Records which are exempt from the ADS may be borrowed through the National Archives' Lending Service. If the records are very fragile and cannot be easily digitised then the National Archives may ask you to send a staff member to look at them on the National Archives premises. If this does not suit you, we may be able to send you a copy. Our staff will consult with you about the best way to give you access to very fragile records.
Ideally only one person in an agency should be authorised to make lending requests as this will prevent duplicate requests. Please keep us informed about who is authorised to request records on behalf of your agency. Please group lending requests so we can respond to them more efficiently.
To request a record, you need to know the record's series, consignment (or transfer job) and item or file numbers (control symbols). This information is on the consignment lists your agency sent to the National Archives when the record was originally transferred.
If you don't have copies of the consignment lists, or you don't know the consignment number, please contact the National Archives.
You can submit a lending request by:
The National Archives will complete ADS requests within 30 business days. If you need the record urgently please consider making a request under the Emergency Access (EA) Provisions, Whenever possible the National Archives will process any agency EA requests that have been approved by the following business day but delays may be experienced if the number of EA requests is high.
Any born-digital records can be retrieved via Lending Services. Please contact your local Lending office for more details: Email us
The National Archives keeps certain records in low temperature storage e.g. master microfilms, photographs and films. These records require acclimatization when they are removed from cold storage and before they can be issued. There is about a one week turnaround for such lending requests. Please note these requirements may limit emergency access.
Please arrange to have your records collected by an authorised courier or person. If you are using a courier, you should give them specific information about the records they will be collecting including your Commonwealth Agency number (CA).
Records can only be issued to an authorised officer. It is your responsibility to make sure that the person collecting the records has an appropriate security clearance.
For information on the handling and transfer of official information, including protectively marked information, and Australian Government security clearances please see the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework released by the Attorney-General's Department.
If your agency has temporary or unevaluated (unsentenced) records stored with the National Archives you may want to withdraw them to sentence them. The process of withdrawing for sentencing is different to the standard Lending Service procedure and you should contact the Agency Service Centre for advice. If your agency needs to keep the records please contact the Lending Service for advice.
Within 90 calendar days please return records to the National Archives office that issued them to you. Pack or wrap records securely to prevent damage in transit.
Make sure you return only the records that the National Archives has issued to you so they can be returned to their series and consignment. Records issued through the Lending Service will have a label on the back with details of the request on it.
After a sentencing project, you may find that some of the records withdrawn need to be returned to the National Archives as they are permanent archival records. You should not return these records through the Lending Service. Instead, you will need to formally transfer them to the National Archives as a new transfer job.
After a sentencing project, you may find that some of the records you withdrew from the National Archives for sentencing need to be returned to the Archives. You should not return these records through the Lending Service. Instead, you will need to transfer them to the Archives as part of a new consignment.