Do I need a reader’s ticket?

You will only need a reader’s ticket to access the original document reading rooms. If you are bringing an assistant or companion into the original document reading rooms they will also need to apply for a reader’s ticket.

To apply for or renew a reader’s ticket you will need to register online and view a document handling video.

Registering online takes less than fifteen minutes. You can do it:

  • within six weeks of your intended visit, using a computer or handheld device. The benefit of registering in advance of your visit is that you will be able to order documents in advance, if you provide your email address when registering
  • on the day of your visit, using one of the computers in our reader registration area at Kew

Whether you’ve registered in advance of your visit or on the day, you will have your photograph taken in the reader registration room for your reader’s ticket when you visit, and your ticket will be issued.

The photograph will show your full head without any head or face covering unless worn for religious or medical reasons.

What documents do I need?

In order to obtain or renew your reader’s ticket you must have two separate forms of identification with you: one to prove your name, the other to prove your address.

You cannot use the same document for both proof of identity and address.

You can check which documents are currently accepted for proof of address and identity before you proceed with registration.

If any of your documents are in a language that we cannot translate online you must bring an official translation.

Using an online proof of address

You will be able to use a proof of address that was generated online to register for a reader’s ticket.

An online proof of address must have been provided to you in this format by the issuing body or organisation.

All bills and statements must have been issued within the last six months.

You can show us your online proof of address via your own device (smartphone, tablet or laptop) or by bringing a printout with you.

If you use an online proof of address you will need to provide an original photo proof of identity from the list.

Acceptable proof of identity

All proof of identity must be supported by a physical, original document.

You can check which documents are currently accepted for proof of address and identity before you proceed with registration.

Renewing your readers ticket

If you are renewing your reader’s ticket you should wait until your current reader’s ticket has expired before registering as the new registration process will cancel your current ticket.

The renewal process and identity requirements (proof of address and identity) are the same as applying for your initial reader’s ticket.

Replacing a lost or stolen reader’s ticket

Lost or forgotten tickets can be replaced for a non-refundable charge of £5, upon production of proof of identity and address.

Stolen tickets will be replaced without charge if you show the registration desk a police crime reference number and acceptable identification.

The replacement process and identity requirements (proof of address and identity) are the same as applying for your initial reader’s ticket.

Copyright

Many of the public records held at The National Archives are subject to Crown copyright. You may quote or transcribe from Crown copyright documents freely and without formal permission. Where you are using documents held by The National Archives you must give the document reference number and acknowledge The National Archives as custodian of the document.

There are differences between the use of public records and non-public records so records held in our collection are identified appropriately in Discovery, our catalogue. You must obtain permission from the copyright holder to re-use material which is acknowledged as being the copyright of a third party.

Read more about obtaining permissions for using The National Archives’ materials.