Digital transfer steps

At a high-level, transferring born-digital records to The National Archives looks like a familiar process; it follows some of the same steps as transferring paper records. However, the process might not be as linear as for paper records, and you might perform some of these steps in parallel rather than strictly one after the other.

Before digital records can be transferred to The National Archives they must be appraised and selected for permanent preservation and reviewed for sensitivity. Once these steps have been completed and the records prepared, they may be delivered to The National Archives. Open born-digital records and their metadata will then be free to view and download from anywhere in the world on our online catalogue, Discovery. If your organisation is transferring born-digital records to The National Archives then ensure you have been on our free ‘Introduction to Digital Transfer’ training course.

The following pages will provide you with some more details around the steps to be taken in the digital transfer process aligned with the gateways you might be familiar with from transferring paper records.

With regard to digital records, this includes Gateway 0, Digital continuity, which covers digital records management from the moment digital records are created to when they are ready to be transferred to The National Archives. Digital continuity is about making sure that your information is complete, available and therefore usable for your business needs. For more information on Digital continuity see our separate suite of guidance.

Born-digital records are those that have been natively created in digital format (rather than digitised from paper records).

Appraisal and selection refers to the decision of which records to keep for permanent preservation and which records you can delete following the principle/philosophy of ‘macro-appraisal and selection’ for efficiency and scalability purposes.

Sensitivity review is the process of identifying records that might need to be retained and records can be transferred closed or open to The National Archives. This will also include a review of the accompanying metadata as well as preparing an application for retention to be put forward to the Advisory Council for their approval.

Preparation for transfer is the most technical step within the process and includes the preparation and review of the accompanying metadata as well as the ‘physical’ transfer of records and metadata to The National Archives via hard disk drive or Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).

Packaging and delivery describes further processing of the records and their metadata once transferred to The National Archives and before they will be made available on our online catalogue, Discovery.