You only need a reader's ticket to look at original documents, not copies of documents. Many of our most popular records, particularly those of interest to family historians, are available online, or on microfilm and microfiche. You do not need a reader's ticket to consult these records.

Obtaining or renewing a reader's ticket

You will only need a reader's ticket if you are consulting original documents. To obtain or renew a reader's ticket you will need to register your personal details and complete a short online document handling information tutorial.

You can either register online within six weeks of your intended visit or use any of the computer terminals in the reader registration room, located on the second floor. This should take you less than 15 minutes. Once complete, your reader's ticket can be collected from the registration desk in the reader registration room.

Please note that if you are renewing your reader's ticket you should wait until your current reader's ticket has expired before registering as the registration process will cancel your current ticket.

In order to obtain or renew your reader's ticket you must bring two forms of identity (listed below) with you: one to prove your name, the other to prove your address. If any of these documents are in a language other than English, you must bring an official translation.

We will take your photograph for the reader's ticket. The photograph must show your full head without any head or face covering. If you wear such items for religious or medical reasons, please speak to a member of staff.

Acceptable forms of identity

Proof of your name with valid signature:

  • Expired National Archives' photo card reader's ticket
  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Bank card
  • Credit card
  • National ID card
  • Police/Customs/Home Office/warrant card
  • Forces ID card
  • Sea/Air Masters licence
  • Blue Badge (driver's pass)
  • Freedom Pass photo card (this must have your photo and name embedded into the card)

Proof of your address:

All bills and statements must have been issued within the last six months. Internet printouts and online statements are not acceptable. If you are usually resident overseas this should show your permanent home address. We will accept a bill or statement addressed to your spouse if your surname matches.
  • Utility bill
  • Bank/building society statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Council tax bill
  • HM Revenue and Customs statement
  • Passports with address (where the address has been officially entered by the issuing authority)
  • National ID card with address
  • Driving licence with address
  • Home Office permit to stay
  • University certificate for hall of residence (stamped and signed by institution)
  • Firearms licence
  • Home insurance policy
  • International student photo card
  • Pension, Benefit Agency or family credit letter statement
  • Student Loans Company letter

Replacing your reader's ticket

Readers' tickets are valid for three years from the date of issue. To renew a reader's ticket, you will need to show us proof of both identity and address.

Lost or forgotten tickets can be replaced for a charge of £5, upon production of proof of identity and address. Stolen tickets will be replaced without charge if you show the registration desk a police crime reference number and acceptable identification.

Copyright

Many of the public records held at The National Archives are subject to Crown copyright. You may quote or transcribe from Crown copyright documents freely and without formal permission. Where you are using documents held by The National Archives you must give the document reference number and acknowledge The National Archives as custodian of the document.

There are differences between the use of public records and non-public records so records held in our collection are identified appropriately in Discovery, our catalogue. You must obtain permission from the copyright holder to re-use material which is acknowledged as being the copyright of a third party.

Read more about obtaining permissions for using The National Archives' materials.