A visitor researching at home

Many of our most popular records, including census records, are available for you to access online without having to visit The National Archives.

See what we hold for information on the documents held at The National Archives, and where to find those that aren't held by us.

We do not issue copies of birth, marriage or death certificates; visit the GOV.UK website to order these certificates.

What to bring with you

Please read our advice on what to bring with you when you visit The National Archives.

New to using archives?

Go to our Start here section if you are new to The National Archives and want some help getting started with your family history or any other kind of research.

Searching, ordering and viewing documents

Search Discovery, our catalogue, for the records we hold that can be viewed at The National Archives in Kew. You may order up to six documents before you visit, to save time when you arrive, if you hold a valid reader's ticket.

Copies of many of our most popular documents can be accessed online or in the reading rooms on microfiche and microfilm. Although we do have staff available to give advice and support, you may want to bring someone with you if you feel you are unable to use a computer unaided. To read original documents only, you will need to obtain a reader's ticket by bringing two forms of identification with you when you visit.

We provide power sockets on most desks in the reading rooms, for you to charge your laptop or camera. You must ensure that your own equipment is safe to plug in. You should not use any other power sockets in the building.

Reference Library

Published sources are a good starting place for research into the records. The National Archives' Library contains over 65,000 printed and online sources, including a rare books collection dating from the 16th century. Many publications relate to and cite documents held at The National Archives.

You can search the Library Catalogue online before you visit to get an idea of the published sources that may be useful to your research and which you can consult when you arrive. You can view other published sources through our eLibrary, which includes journals, newspapers and digitised collections of documents. It's free to use on site but there may be a fee to access some of these resources outside our building.

To access the Rare Books collection and material stored on the second floor you need a reader's ticket. A small amount of material is stored offsite, but we can retrieve it within three working days upon request.

Accessing QR codes in the Keeper's Gallery

You can find, and contribute to, online information about some of our museum artifacts using QR codes. However, you will need to download an app to access QR codes before you visit The National Archives as you cannot download apps over our free public wifi.


Children under 16 are only allowed in the reading rooms at the discretion of the public services manager and must be supervised at all times by an adult. Young children and babies are not normally allowed in the reading room as they can easily become bored and may disturb other visitors.

Guidelines for handling documents

You may find that you need to consult several different types of document during your visit, such as books, parchment and maps. Read our advice on how to handle documents, and see examples of best practice. 


No animals, apart from assistance dogs for disabled people, are allowed at The National Archives.


Smoking is not allowed in any part of the building.


Various accommodation options are available in the Kew area.

Certificates of attendance

If you need a certificate of attendance you will have to sign the attendance diary at the welcome desk for every day you study with us. At the end of your visit the staff on the welcome desk will issue a certificate for the days you have signed.


For detailed rules and regulations at The National Archives, please see the document below:

Rules of The National Archives (PDF, 0.18Mb)

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