- Before you visit
- Where to find us
- When you arrive
- Disabled access
- Group visits
- What's on?
- Opening times
- Reading room changes
When you arrive
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.
If you are a first-time visitor please stop at the welcome desk and a member of staff will help you.
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.
The National Archives' interactive museum showcases the treasures of the archives, including Domesday Book and the American Declaration of Independence. Our exhibition traces the history of The National Archives and record keeping from Domesday to the present, and admission is free. The museum is open between 09:00 and 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.
Open reading room
The open reading room, on the first floor, is the first reading room you enter and contains the central enquiry point. You do not need a reader's ticket to use the resources here.
This room contains a range of online, microfiche and microfilm resources, the library and the talks room, where the 'New to Kew' talk is held daily at 11:30 for first-time visitors.
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 brief animated online guides on understanding the archives 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 large items can be viewed. 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. 97% of documents will be delivered in less than 1 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 brief animated online guide to ordering documents for more information.
Correct document handling is essential. Please see how to handle documents for details.
There is a range of printing and copying facilities available. We also encourage the use of cameras (with the flash turned off).