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Thursday 23 March 2017

Preparing for your visit

In the National Records of Scotland (NRS)'s Historical Search Room you may consult records without charge for purposes of historical research, provided that you hold a current reader's ticket.

This page tells you how to obtain a ticket and what preparations to make to get the most out of your visit.

Readers' tickets

  • a reader's ticket is valid for up to 3 years.
  • a reader's ticket will only be issued on your personal application at an NRS search room, after you have produced (a) photographic proof of your identity and (b) proof of your current address, such as a utility bill (please note items with handwritten address cannot be accepted).
  • we have introduced a new style of reader’s ticket that incorporates a photograph. You will therefore be required to bring two passport sized colour photographs with you when you first visit.
  • if you have held a reader's ticket with us previously and it expired in or before 2013, you will need to renew it on your next visit to the Search Room. If your personal details are still correct, we ask that you bring in your old ticket plus a form of photographic identification and two colour passport-sized photographs. If your details have changed, we will also need to see proof of your new address.
  • once issued, your ticket is valid in the Historical Search Room but not the Legal Search Room, although you may consult catalogues and indexes there.
  • when entering the General Register House, you must present your ticket.
  • because your ticket acts as a security pass, its loss or any change of the details recorded on it must be reported to NRS immediately.
  • your ticket remains the property of NRS. We may charge you for the replacement of a lost or mislaid ticket.
  • unreasonable behaviour towards other readers or staff may result in the withdrawal of your reader's ticket.

Getting the most out of your visit

In order to get the most out of your visit to the National Records of Scotland (NRS):
  • try to be clear what information you are seeking and what records you want to see
  • check that the records you are looking for are in NRS. Birth, death and marriage registers and census returns are consulted in our ScotlandsPeople search rooms
  • make your search room visit more efficient by doing as much research remotely as possible
  • consider whether there are published sources of information on your topic, which might be found in libraries or on the Internet
  • gather information on your specific topic. Your research will be improved by bringing as much information with you as you can, such as names of people you are interested in, dates and places of events
  • bring a full note of any specific references that you find to records held in NRS or elsewhere
  • check which search room to visit and how to get there
  • bring appropriate identification to obtain a reader's ticket for yourself and anyone accompanying you
  • if you hope to bring children under 16 years of age, please contact us in advance
  • read our search room regulations
  • if you have a disability, find out disabled access to our search rooms
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Page last updated: 4 July 2014

The National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: