Conditions for loans

The best way to contact the Loans Team is to use the following email address:

Discovery, The National Archives’ catalogue, provides information about our records. There are also many images of documents and parts of documents available online through the ‘Image Viewer’ on Discovery. When requesting a loan, the borrower must give details of the exact folio, or folios, to be displayed. If necessary, the borrower can make use of The National Archives’ research service in order to identify a suitable folio.


We must receive your application for a loan not less than six months prior to the opening date of the exhibition. This is to allow sufficient time for the necessary condition checks, paperwork, conservation, photography and mounting to be carried out.

We will normally acknowledge your application within 10 working days.

The normal loan period is three months to six months.

Irrespective of the terms of the loan, the borrowing authority must return any or all of the exhibits at the written request of The National Archives.

The National Archives reserves the right, at any time, not to proceed with a loan.


The suitability of a loan will normally be assessed by Collection Care staff at The National Archives. In cases where we are unable to lend a document due to its condition, size, format or similar reason, we will suggest a good quality facsimile as an alternative.

The documents will usually be accompanied to and from the exhibition by a designated member of The National Archives’ conservation staff, who has absolute discretion to withdraw the documents on loan if dissatisfied with the conditions at the designated venue.

We do not usually lend more than ten documents to any one exhibition.


The borrower will be responsible for expenses incurred by The National Archives in making a loan, including:

  • Standard charges for conservation treatment, documentation, mounting, packing and couriering exhibition items as set out in the current fees regulations.
  • Travel and accommodation for The National Archives’ staff member who accompanies the item. For security purposes, air travel will usually be at business class rate when travelling with the loan.
  • Subsistence expenses for The National Archives’ staff member who accompanies the item. This will normally be a ‘per diem’ that is paid directly to the staff member. Surplus monies will be returned to the borrower via the invoice we send you.

Once your loan has been assessed we will provide an estimate of costs.

If the loan is cancelled, for whatever reason, all reasonable costs incurred to that date will be borne by the borrower.

Care of the document

Documents are lent for the purpose of public exhibition only and may not be made available for study or other purposes outside their showcases without the written consent of The National Archives.

After they have been mounted in the showcase for exhibition, documents must be left undisturbed – except in the case of any emergency – until the exhibition is dismantled.

Documents are lent to a single institution. No application for a touring exhibition will be accepted.

No mark in pencil, ink, paint or any other material may be made on any document, nor may any such existing mark be obliterated. No adhesives of any kind may be applied to the documents. All materials used within the cases, with which the documents may come into contact, must be acid-free and free of any pollutants.

No conservation measures of any description may be carried out other than at The National Archives, or when The National Archives’ staff are present.


Photography is only allowed with the written consent of The National Archives, or its accompanying member of staff who has discretion to decide on the appropriate level of lighting.

Security copies will be made of all items before they leave The National Archives. If appropriate, any prints required can be taken from them. Please order copies when you apply for a loan by contacting the image library.

Captions and credits

Any caption or credit used for display purposes, and any description given in a catalogue, must state that the document is on loan from ‘The National Archives, UK’ and give The National Archives’ reference, found in Discovery, our catalogue.

One copy of the exhibition catalogue must be sent to The National Archives free of charge.

Exhibition premises

Exhibition premises must be safe and secure in all respects and adequate safeguards in place before any items are borrowed. The standards required are those of the National Security Advisor laid out in Appendices of the Government Indemnity Scheme guidelines.  These can be found on the Arts Council website.

All borrowing institutes will be subjected to an evaluation by the National Security Advisor. Borrowers will be asked to send Facilities and Security Reports for the exhibition venue.


All documents must be displayed in locked showcases. Any other method of display, particularly wall mounts, must be discussed with the Collection Care Department at The National Archives.

Documents must be placed in their showcases by the accompanying member of staff from The National Archives, or an authorised representative, who will supervise the locking of the case. After this time the exhibits and their mounts must remain undisturbed. An alarmed case may be specified by The National Archives.


Required environmental conditions will be declared prior to the loan agreement and will be dependent on the exhibits. We will require written assurance that the environmental conditions are suitable for the exhibits and will stipulate any necessary changes. Lighting requirements will take into account previous display exposure of the exhibit(s).

No food, drink or smoking can be allowed in the exhibition area.

Insurance against loss and damage

The National Archives will determine the insurance value required in all cases.

Insurance arrangements must be made by, and at the expense of, the borrower.

UK Government Indemnity arrangements will be agreed between The National Archives and libraries, galleries and museums within the United Kingdom, according to the Government Indemnity Scheme guidelines found on the Arts Council website.

Packing and display

The National Archives, or an authorised representative, will pack all items for transport to and from the exhibition.

Packaging must be stored safely by the borrower during the course of the exhibition, to enable it to be used for the return of the exhibits.

The National Archives will mount all exhibition items in consultation with the exhibition organisers. Wherever possible, the items will travel ready-mounted. If this is not possible, the display will be arranged by or under the supervision of the accompanying member of The National Archives’ staff, or an authorised representative, in accordance with any previously agreed design. None of the mounts or cradles is to be removed or changed in any way during the exhibition.

A condition report will accompany each item on loan and must be agreed with the borrower before display. The report must be checked and agreed at the end of the exhibition.


Items should travel shortly before the exhibition opens to minimise risk and to avoid inconvenience to readers at The National Archives.

We will liaise with the borrower with regard to carrier, and transport and travel arrangements which will be organised by the borrower. For overseas loans, the borrower will be responsible for appointing a shipping agent, subject to approval by The National Archives; the shipping agent will handle customs formalities.

All items must travel under the constant personal supervision of the member of The National Archives’ staff, or an authorised representative, even if that necessitates the purchase of extra aircraft seats. Cargo haulage will only be considered if the size restricts cabin transportation.

No loan is to be unpacked, other than by the member of The National Archives’ staff, or an authorised representative, for examination at any point on either journey.

Borrowed documents must not be stored anywhere other than the stated place of exhibition, unless specifically agreed with The National Archives.

International loans

The National Archives continues to consider new requests for international loans. We invite the borrower to think carefully about the relevance of our documents to their exhibition, and we recommend starting initial conversations early, which will allow us to consider any necessary alternative solutions on travel, installation or potential longer term storage. As always, our approval of any loan will be dependent on the facilities at the borrowing venue, the condition of the documents, their fitness for travel and display and their assured safety throughout transportation and the loan period. Any agreement to lend will be contingent on restrictions relating to public health, armed conflicts or heightened security alerts and other restrictions that may arise in line with the UK government’s position at the planned time of transport or display.

The National Archives reserves the right to withdraw from the loan at any time, if it becomes apparent that our personnel and documents would be at risk, or if it is no longer possible for them to travel.