The Public Records Act 1958 required relevant government bodies to select and transfer records of historical interest to The National Archives or Places of Deposit appointed by the Lord Chancellor at or before the records reached 30 years old. In 2010, this period was ammended to 20 years, and records transferring to The National Archives and some specialist Places of Deposit are already in transition to the new '20-Year Rule'. From 1 January 2015, transition to the new rule commenced for records of specified bodies transferring records to local Places of Deposit. The change also affects those bodies listed in the second transition order that act as Places of Deposit for this own organisation.

What this change means for Places of Deposit

The second transition order reduces the point at which public records created by specified creating bodies are transferred to local Places of Deposit from 30 to 20 years over a ten-year transition period. The period after which records must be selected and transferred will be reduced by one year for each year of the transition.

This means that during 2015 local Places of Deposit should receive records dating from 1985 and 1986. A further two years' worth of records of local interest will be transferred each year until 2024 when records from 2003 and 2004 will have been received.

The policy is also likely to encourage the deposit of records which were due for transfer under the previous 30 years' rule (historic material). Places of Deposit should therefore expect a rise in the volume of deposits of public records under the 20-years' rule and historic material over 30-years old during the transition period.

To manage this increase, selection and transfer processes will need to be improved.

What we are doing to help - new directory

As many of the bodies transferring records to local Places of Deposit have been through recent organisational change, we are developing a new directory which maps creating bodies to Places of Deposit and vice versa, to ensure that everyone involved in implementation of the change knows who they should be talking to. Some new organisations may not yet have a Place of Deposit appointed to hold their records they should contact The National Archives for further guidance.

What we are doing - training and guidance

In support of the new arrangements, creating bodies will be provided with training and guidance on the standards expected for the transfer of records. The National Archives in collaboration with local Places of Deposit ran a first series of training sessions across England and Wales between January and March 2015, on the standards expected for the transfer of records. We expect to run further training around the country in the autumn. Details of booking will be posted here soon.

We have developed new brief guidance for creating bodies on the selection and transfer of records to Places of Deposit. This supports the use of Places of Deposits' own local standards and guidance for specific transfer processes. Creating bodies will be made aware that Places of Deposit are able to refuse records for transfer if they do not comply with the guidance or locally-agreed procedures.

We are working with the Place of Deposit referencing group, other government departments and creating bodies to raise awareness of the changes, and to update existing sector-specific guidance, such as the NHS Records Management Code.

What are doing to help - funding for local authority Places of Deposit

The Ministry of Justice is providing £6.6million additional funding to cover this increased activity for local authority Places of Deposit during that period, as well as smaller sums to assist coroners, which will be distributed via The National Archives. 

This sum will be divided equally across each year of transition (£660,000 in each year, for each of the ten years) and allocated to Places of Deposit in proportion to their share of total accessions of public records in the calendar year, rather than as a set sum per metre of records. In order to make a claim for this funding, Places of Deposit will need to report the eligible volume of records for the past calendar year via their annual accessions return to The National Archives. 

For consistency with current reporting of 20-year rule transfers from government departments to Kew, the reporting unit will be linear metres.

What are doing to help - monitoring

In addition to accessions returns from Places of Deposit, creating bodies will also be required to supply information annually on the volumes of records affected by transition, and how much remains to be processed for possible transfer. This should make it easier for both creating bodies and Places of Deposit to plan ahead, and make best use of existing resources. 

Please get in touch with us if you would like to find out more at:

Useful links:

20-year rule FAQs (PDF, 0.22MB)

A brief guide to transferring Records of Local Interest (PDF, 0.29MB)

Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010): 20 year rule: records of local interest (PDF, 0.13MB)

You can find out more about the 20-year rule and how it is implemented across government departments on the following pages:

20-year rule

20-year rule: Record transfer report

NHS information governance toolkit

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