National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Planning Your Visit

Planning Your Visit

The Historical and Digital Archive Search Rooms are open 9:00-16:30, Monday to Friday, and the Maps and Plans unit is open (by appointment only) from 09:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The NRS online catalogue can be used to identify any records you wish to view. Records stored off-site require a request in advance of your visit. Guidance on requesting records is available here How To Order and Access Our Records 

Please ensure you read the following as part of our Conditions of Access:
  • You will need to be issued with a Reader’s Ticket before you can view any records. For information on the documentation required for this, please see Reader's Tickets | National Records of Scotland (

  • Personal items must be deposited in a locker on the ground floor. This requires a £1 coin or token to operate. See ‘What can I take into the search room’ for permitted items

  • Seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis

  • In the interests of other readers, please observe silence in our search rooms  except when consulting a member of staff

  • Mobile phones and other electrical equipment should be switched to silent and used only for still photography without flash (once you have checked with staff whether original records may be photographed)

  • No photography of any kind is permitted in the Digital Archive Search Room

  • Please let staff know if you intend to leave your desk for more than an hour, we may return the records you are consulting to store

  • The use of tablets / laptops is permitted at the owner’s own risk; public Wi-Fi is available

  • We encourage regular hand-washing when handling records. If you wish to use hand sanitiser, please only use the sanitiser supplied by NRS, which has been approved by our Conservation section

  • Please be courteous and respectful to staff, they are there to help and guide you as much as possible

  • Please be aware that the Historical Search Room is climate-controlled to ensure an optimal temperature for historical records. For this reason, you may find the room cooler than the rest of the building, and you may wish to wear warm layers. Please note that outdoor clothing is not permitted in the search rooms.

Researching with a companion

Document security is very important to ensure records are kept safely for future generations. Please read and follow these requirements. 

  • All visitors to the search rooms must obtain a Reader’s Ticket before viewing any record. If you are not intending on carrying out any research yourself, we will be unable to provide you with a seat in the search room; seats are reserved for readers wishing to consult original records.

  • Each visit is for one person only on a first-come, first-served basis – you will not be able to bring anyone with you, unless they choose to make a visit themselves or have a duty of care. 

  • The person requesting the records must be the same person who views them; you cannot make a document request in your name and expect someone else to be able to view the records.

  • Records must remain on the desk of the person who requested them; records must not be passed between readers. 

  • If two researchers visit together, but each has requested different records, they may be seated at desks which are some distance apart.

  • If your research companion wishes to view a record you have requested, that person must move to view the records at your desk. Only the person who requested the record may handle it.

  • If a record has been approved for photography, then it may be photographed by the researcher and/or a companion, but must be handled only by the person who requested it

  • If you wish to study a record which a fellow researcher has out, then the record must be returned to store first. Only then may it be requested by another researcher.