Changes to document ordering

We have decided to delay the implementation of the document ordering trial, as The National Archives is currently closed until further notice.

We will soon make some changes to same-day document ordering.

From Tuesday 31 March 2020, as part of a six-month trial, readers will be able to order a maximum of 12 documents for the same day, plus up to 12 documents ordered in advance (a maximum of 24 documents per reader per day).

There will be five document ordering slots available each day and you can order as many of your 12 same-day documents as you require in any of the slots. This means that if you have prepared your references you will be able to order 12 documents at the same time. Documents will be delivered at set times each day.

You will not need to finish your advance orders before ordering documents for the same day. The new document ordering and delivery times are listed below:

Document ordering slots Earliest availability in reading rooms
09:45–10:30 11:00–11:15
11:00–11:45 12:15–12:30
12:15–13:00 13:30–13:45
13:30–14:15 14:45–15:00
14:45–15:30 16:00–16:15

In order to facilitate these changes, same-day document ordering will start at 09:45 and finish at 15:30 each day. Advance ordering for the next day will also close at 15:30. Reading room opening times will be unaffected.

To prepare for these changes, we have looked closely at the average number of documents viewed by each reader per day (currently around eight documents each), and have identified new parameters to ensure that readers who plan their visit can conduct their research efficiently in the reading rooms. The proposed changes will give us the opportunity to supply documents to readers within dedicated delivery time slots throughout the day. This will allow us to maintain the collection appropriately so that we can ensure its preservation for future generations of researchers. We will be trialling these changes for six months from the end of March, during which time we will closely monitor reader usage and seek feedback from readers.

The majority of our readers already request records in advance of a visit in order to make the most of their day. If you are not already a user of the advance and bulk order services you can find details on our website on the how to order documents page. We have included a comparison breakdown of the changes overleaf.

Bulk ordering

Please note our bulk ordering service will not be affected during this trial. Bulk ordering allows users to order between 20-40 documents.


Service  Current times/conditions From 31 March 2020 Comments
Same-day document ordering 09:30–16:00


Allows up to  three documents to be ordered at a time. An additional document can be ordered once each document is delivered.

Random delivery times.

Rolling 24 document limit including advance orders.



All 12 documents can be ordered simultaneously.

Five dedicated document delivery slots each day.

Static 24 document limit including advance orders.


Concentrates on the busiest user times and provides additional time for increased advance order production and collection maintenance.

Reduces waiting time between batches of documents

Readers will know when to expect documents to be ready for viewing.

24 documents is three times the average number of documents seen by an average user each day.

Advance orders Up to 12 documents a day – closes at 16:00 for next day visits.


Documents available to view from 09:00.

Up to 12 documents a day – closes at 15:30 for next day visits.


Documents available to view from 09:00.

30 minute earlier cut off to allow for preparation of increased number of advance orders to be ready to view for 09:00.

Tags: access, advance document ordering, archive services, information for visitors, reading rooms