What records we hold

As the official public archive of the United Kingdom government, we hold records covering more than 1,000 years of history. Government records which have been selected for permanent preservation are sent to The National Archives.

You can search descriptions of the records we hold in Discovery, our catalogue.

We have a large collection of digitised public records. Visit Discovery for online access to these records, including Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills, Cabinet papers and First World War medal index cards. Many other records can be viewed in our reading rooms at Kew.

We do not hold or issue copies of birth, marriage or death certificates. Go to GOV.UK to order these certificates.

Alternatively, FreeBMD provides online access to transcriptions of the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. It gives index information for the period 1837 to 1992, although this information is not yet complete.

Military service records for the Second World War are kept by the Ministry of Defence: see the Veterans UK website.

We do not hold

  • most parish registers
  • wills after 1858
  • personal papers and diaries
  • records of businesses

Please use local archives and other organisations for these types of records.