National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Historical Search Room

Historical Search Room

The Historical Search Room is located on the first floor of General Register House.  You may consult original records without charge for purposes of historical research provided that you hold a current reader's ticket and adhere to our Historical and Legal Search Room Regulations.

Historical Search Room, General Register House, Edinburgh

Survey work begins on the Adam Dome.

The main entrance to General Register House (GRH) will be closed from 15 April 2019 until further notice, to allow for specialist consultants to carry out investigation work on the Adam Dome in General Register House, one of the world’s oldest custom built archive buildings still in its original use.

Search room facilities will remain open and all visitors to the Reid, Historical and Legal Search Rooms should report to the relevant search room via the Garden entrance. Signage will be in place to direct customers and visitors.

All other visitors should go to the main reception area or the accessible reception, both at New Register House.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this investigation work.

Opening Times

From 09:00 to 16:30 Monday to Friday, except for some public holidays and closures for essential maintenance,

  • The latest time for ordering records is 15:45.
  • The latest time for ordering copies of records is 15:45.

We don't use an advance booking facility. You don't need to make an appointment but please note that seats are filled on a first come, first served basis.

Before you visit

We recommend that you consult our catalogues and indexes and research guides. The catalogue entry provides information about whether a document is held on or off site or is available as a surrogate (it has been digitised or is on microfilm).

  • If it is stored on site there is no need to order in advance.
  • Please note that many of our records are stored off site. The catalogue record for material off site usually includes, near the top, the option to 'click here to order' which means you can place an order yourself before you visit. We can accept orders for up to 12 outstored items per day. For productions in the Historical Search Room we require:
  • 24 hours' notice by telephone: 0131 535 1334 (+44 131 535 1334) on Mondays to Fridays during office hours
  • Two working days' notice by emailing [email protected]

(Please note that replies will be sent from [email protected] and may be found in your junk/spam folder rather than your inbox)

  • If a surrogate (for example digital image or microfilm) is available but you feel this is not adequate for your research please apply as far in advance as possible using this application form for original records (pdf).

We also recommend that you read the following pages:

Our copyright guidance has been withdrawn pending legislative changes.

If you wish to consult items in our plans collection please go to our Maps and Plans research guide.

To Get the Most from Your Visit
  • Please bring full details of specific references to records held here and as much information about the names of people you are interested in, and the dates and places of events.
  • Check that the records you are looking for are held here. Birth, death and marriage registers and census returns are consulted in our ScotlandsPeople Centre search rooms on payment of the statutory fee.
  • Bring appropriate identification to obtain a reader's ticket for yourself and anyone accompanying you.

Please contact us in advance if you hope to be accompanied by a child under the age of 16 years or if you have concerns about disabled access and facilities.