New to using archives?

Find out which types of records we hold and whether you need to come here to access them.

To access original documents, you will need a reader’s ticket. If you want to access documents online only, you will not need a reader’s ticket.

You should leave your coat and bag in the cloakroom on the ground floor, placing your research materials (notes, pencils and digital camera) into one of the clear, plastic bags provided, and head upstairs to the second floor to collect your reader’s ticket.

Once you have your reader’s ticket you should visit the Start Here desk on the first floor for research advice.

At the Start Here desk staff can help you familiarise yourself with The National Archives and how to begin your research.

For more information about using the archives for the first time, use our virtual Start here guide.

The National Archives’ Reference Library

Published sources are a good starting place for research into the records. The National Archives’ Reference 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 Reference 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.

The Library is located on the first floor at the far end of the Research and Enquiries Room, with some material on the second floor, in the Map and Large Document Room. 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.