Do I need a reader’s ticket?

You will only need a reader’s ticket to access the original document reading rooms. You do not need a reader’s ticket to view digital records, or microfilm and microfiche records.

If you are bringing an assistant or companion into the original document reading rooms they will also need to obtain a reader’s ticket. To obtain or renew a reader’s ticket you will need to register your personal details and view a document handling video.

You can either register online within six weeks of your intended visit or use any of the computer terminals. This should take you less than 15 minutes. You can then collect your reader’s ticket from the registration desk in the reader registration room.

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.

Register here

Acceptable forms of identity

To obtain or renew a reader’s ticket you will need two forms of identity: a proof of name with a valid signature and a proof of address.

You must bring the physical, original identity documents where they are issued in this format.

We do not accept copies, digital documents (including PDFs), or prints from a digital or online source.

Proof of your name with valid signature

  • expired photo card reader’s ticket from The National Archives
  • 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. If you bank online, most banks will provide a paper statement on request for free or at a small charge, but please be aware that they might take several days to send a statement to you. If you are usually resident overseas, your identification should show your permanent home address. We will accept a bill or statement addressed to your spouse if your surname matches theirs.

  • 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

Renewing or 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.

Please note: 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 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.


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.

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