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You can order documents online or by phone before you visit The National Archives, to save time when you arrive.

To order documents held at The National Archives in advance, you must either already hold a valid reader's ticket or have registered online for one. Find out how to register online for a reader's ticket.

Any documents held off site can be ordered in advance without a reader's ticket. Please see the information below for details.

Online orders

If you hold a current reader's ticket, you can order up to six documents in advance of your visit to The National Archives using the online order form.

Orders need to be placed before 17:00 on the working day before your visit if documents are stored at Kew, and before 11:00 three working days before your visit if they are stored off site (see below).

We are open Tuesday to Saturday:

  • Next working day orders placed before 16:00 will be ready to view at 09:00
  • Next working day orders placed between 16:00 and 17:00 will be ready to view by 10:00

We cannot guarantee that everything you order will be available.  

Telephone orders

Alternatively, you can call us on + 44 (0) 20 8392 5200 between Tuesday and Saturday and order documents over the telephone. Again, you will need a valid reader's ticket. Please have the following information ready:

  • Reader's name
  • Reader's ticket number (mandatory)
  • The proposed date of your visit
  • A maximum of six preferred document references
  • Your daytime telephone number  

Bulk orders

If you intend to order a large number of documents from the same department and series (for example, all documents from FO 371) and you hold a current reader's ticket, you can pre-order using the bulk order form.

Please note:

  • We require at least two working days' notice for a bulk order. Orders giving less than the required notice will not be produced. We strongly advise that you place your bulk order as far ahead of your intended visit as possible, as we can only accommodate a limited number of bulk orders per day and these are allocated on a first come, first served basis
  • Bulk orders can be kept out for a maximum of two days
  • Only one bulk order can be requested at a time and orders cannot be placed for consecutive days. Subsequent bulk orders cannot be placed until the preceding order has been returned
  • We cannot guarantee that everything you order will be available

Documents stored off site - existing readers

Some documents are kept off site at a Deepstore storage facility in Cheshire.

You can check which documents are stored off site in Discovery, our catalogue.

If the documents you are ordering are stored in Cheshire, please let us know. Requests for off site documents are made available within three working days, if ordered before 11:00.

As with documents stored at The National Archives, those stored off site can be ordered by readers holding a current reader's ticket at any time online or by telephone between Tuesday and Saturday.

Documents stored off site - new readers

If you do not have a current reader's ticket you can advance order up to six documents from the off site Deepstore storage facility in Cheshire.

You can check which documents are stored off site in Discovery, our catalogue.

These documents will take three working days to deliver, if ordered before 11:00. The documents will be reserved for your intended date of visit and then returned to off site storage.

This service has been made available so that new readers, or those with expired readers' tickets, can obtain a reader's ticket and view off site documents on the same visit.

To use this service please email advanceddocumentorder@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk and supply your full name, the intended date of your visit (dd/mm/yyyy) and the full document references of up to six off site documents. Please give at least three working days' notice for advance orders. 

Handling documents

The material we hold is precious and some documents are very fragile. Please help us ensure their continued survival by following the basic principles when handling original documents.