As a government department, we are obliged to charge for some of our public services, including research and record copying.
The prices we charge for some of our services are set out by the Fees Regulations under the Public Records Act (1958) and are based on recovering the costs of providing these services.
Charging for digitised copies of paper records
Digitising paper records is costly, and normally involves additional cataloguing and transcription work to ensure that the records are searchable. When we decide to digitise a collection of records, we either work with commercial and academic publishing partners or we do the work ourselves and make digital copies available to download from our website through Discovery.
Free access to digital records
While we are only able to provide limited on site access, we have decided to make digital records that are downloadable via Discovery available free of charge.
The usual charges will apply to everyone once our reading rooms fully re-open.
To find records that are available to download for free, filter your search results in Discovery to include records that are ‘available for download only’.
To download for free, users will be required to:
- Register/sign in to their Discovery account before adding items to their basket (maximum 10 items per basket)
- Abide by the terms of our fair use policy
- Complete the order process to receive a download link, which will remain active for 30 days. (The link will also be saved in ‘Current orders’ in your account for 30 days)
Some digitised records are also available to view through websites such as Findmypast or Ancestry: this will be specified in the catalogue description in Discovery. These are usually free to search but there may be a subscription charge to view.
Viewing and ordering
Why are some records only available through commercial companies?
We have over 167 kilometres of shelving of records. Digitising records and making them available online is an enormous task. We therefore work with partners to make more records accessible by participating in the commercial digitisation of genealogical and other records. Find out more about licensing.
Can I order copies of records?
The record copying service provides copies of all material held by The National Archives. With state of the art digital scanning equipment, we can produce paper copies of records, as well as in a range of electronic formats.