Map of the reading rooms at Kew

This section provides information on our on site facilities to help you make the most of your visit to The National Archives.  Please see what should I bring? for items that are allowed into the reading rooms.

See our guide and map to help you find your way around (PDF, 0.48MB)

Welcome desk

If you are a first-time visitor please stop at the welcome desk and a member of staff will help you.

Disabled access

See our access guide for more information on the services and facilities available.


Free lockers are provided on the ground floor for bags and restricted items. Secure coat hangers, also free of charge, are situated next to the lockers.

Café and restaurant

Our café serves hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, pastries and snacks throughout the day. We also have a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.

Closure of cyber café

We will remove our public cyber café this summer, closing after Saturday 15 August.

More visitors are now bringing their own mobile devices to The National Archives, and demand for the cyber café service has reduced significantly.

We've improved our WiFi coverage to ensure that we meet the technological demands of our visitors, and will continue to provide a large number of PCs for reading room visitors to use.

The Keeper's Gallery

Find out more about our onsite museum, The Keeper's Gallery and about future displays.

The Gallery has recently been refurbished to make it a brighter, more inviting space for visitors.

Please note, by making the space brighter and increasing the ambient temperature we are no longer able to provide the right environment to have Domesday permanently on display. Instead, there is a new rotating exhibit in the central part of the museum that will feature Domesday for approximately six months every five years.

The interactive gallery showcases highlights from the archive. It is open between 09:00 and 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday, admission is free.

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.


Our on site bookshop stocks a wide range of history titles to help you with your research, along with a selection of souvenirs and gifts. The bookshop is open between 09:00 and 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

Reading rooms

Start Here and the Research and Enquiries Room

Start Here, on the first floor, is the first room you enter and is ideal for first-time visitors who are beginning their research at The National Archives. The Talks Room is also located here, where our weekly talks take place each Thursday afternoon at 14:00.

Leading from Start Here is the Research and Enquiries Room. You will find two enquiry points here: the Red desk for advice relating to military, maritime, transport and family history enquiries; and the Blue desk for advice relating to political, social, diplomatic and colonial history. You do not need a reader's ticket to use the resources here. This room contains a range of online, microfiche and microfilm resources, as well as the library. There are also collections of 'how to' leaflets and more in-depth research guides, arranged by topic, that will help you get started on your research.

See our video guides to help you with your research at The National Archives.

Document Reading Room

The Document Reading Room, on the first floor, is where you can view original documents. You will need a reader's ticket to enter this room and our security staff may check visitors to ensure that prohibited items are not taken in or out.

Map and Large Document Reading Room

The Map and Large Document Reading Room is located on the second floor (accessible via the stairs or lift). This room contains special desks where you can view large items. You will need a reader's ticket to enter this room and our security staff may check visitors to ensure that prohibited items are not taken in or out.

Ordering original documents

You can order original documents at any computer terminal in the reading rooms.     

Current order status screens available in all public areas can be used to check the progress of your order.  Ninety-seven per cent of documents will be delivered in less than one hour. The current average delivery time is displayed as you order each document.

When your documents are ready, they are delivered to your allocated numbered locker near the document reading room, or the collection counter on the second floor for maps and larger documents. The locker number is the same as your seat number. When you have finished with your documents, please return them to the document returns counter nearest to you. See our short video guide to ordering documents for more information.

Correct document handling is essential. Please see how to handle documents for details.

Copying documents

There is a range of printing and copying facilities available. Find out more about our fees.

We also encourage the use of cameras (with the flash turned off). Go to the information desk in our reading rooms to find out more about your options.

This page contains PDF files. See plug-ins and file formats for help in accessing these file types.