Our paid search service

Under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000, you have the right to see information held by us unless one of the exemptions set out in the FOI Act applies – find out more about Freedom of Information.

Following the recent reopening of our paid search service we are experiencing unusually high levels of demand. Please allow for a slightly longer first-response time.

Can you do the search yourself?

  • Take a look at our research guides for advice on what records we hold and how you can search for them in Discovery, our online catalogue
  • You can go directly to Discovery, our online catalogue, where all of our records are listed, each with a short description – search with keywords and dates
  • Use Discovery help for guidance on searching
  • Catalogue descriptions include information on how you can get a copy of a record, indicating whether you can download a copy of the record online or, if the record is unavailable online, how you can order paper or digital copies to be sent to you
  • If you already have a catalogue reference (also known as a document reference) you can request a copy of the whole document using our record copying service

What we can and cannot search for

  • We can search for details of people, places and subjects within specific series of records
  • We need to identify, in agreement with you, the record series in which to search before we can consider the search and quote you a price
  • We cannot look speculatively through unspecified documents in the hope of finding a record for a particular person, place or subject
  • We can search for online versions of our records on commercial websites like Ancestry and Findmypast but it is often more cost effective to subscribe to the websites and do the searching yourself (consult our online collections page to see which collections are available online)

The cost of a search

  • £116.88 (incl. VAT) per hour (minimum charge £29.22)
  • You will receive a quote for the cost once our researchers have assessed your request and before you commit to the paid search itself
  • The prices we charge are set out by the Fees Regulations under the Public Records Act (1958) and are based on recovering the costs of providing the services
  • Alternatively, you can use an independent researcher who may offer more competitive rates

How to request a paid search

Click on the link below to request a paid search using our online form. Remember to give as much detail as possible about what documents you would like us to search.

Request a paid search

Alternatively, write to us at: Collections Expertise and Engagement, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

When will you receive the results of a search?

  • Within 20 working days of receipt of payment