We ask you to take into the reading rooms only those items which you need for your research. You must put all items into clear plastic bags, which can be provided by security.

Background information on your enquiry

Please bring as much information as you can about your enquiry. This will help us to help you.

Pencils - not pens

You may use only graphite pencils in the reading rooms and no erasers are allowed. To help us preserve our documents, pens and coloured pencils are not permitted.

Digital cameras

You may use a camera to photograph some documents. Flash photography is forbidden. Copyright applies to all records and details may be obtained from the Record Copying help desks. See our photography policy for more information on taking photographs.

Photography policy (PDF, 0.07MB)

Mobile phones

Phones and other mobile devices may be used in the reading rooms but must be switched to silent mode, and only used for text messaging or photography.

Notepads and laptops

You may bring notepads and laptops to make notes. You may use one notepad (up to A4 size) and up to 20 sheets of loose paper in the document reading rooms.

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.

Reader's ticket

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.

If you do not have a valid reader's ticket and want to consult original documents, please bring two forms of acceptable identification so we can issue you with a reader's ticket.

Food and drink

You will find a restaurant and coffee bar where you can also eat your own food. You may not take food and drink into the reading rooms.


We provide lockers and coat racks for you to store coats, bags and other possessions safely. Our reading rooms are air-conditioned so you may want to bring a jumper or cardigan for your visit should you feel the cold.

Cash, cheques and credit cards

Cash and credit cards are accepted in the shop and for paying for copies of documents. We do not accept cheques in the restaurant or coffee bar, but there is a free cash machine (ATM) located next to the restaurant.

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