Planning Your Visit to the Parliamentary Archives

You may wish to print this page and bring it with you for reference.


Our service is open to everyone. No special letters of introduction are required and no readers' tickets are issued, but we do require photographic proof of identity. We don't charge fees to consult the records.

Visits are by appointment only and you will not be admitted without one. Please contact us in advance of your visit to make an appointment, and give at least two working days' notice. We have a limited number of seats in our searchroom, and are sometimes booked out. Also a few off-site records require ordering with two working days' notice. If we have not confirmed your booking, please do not turn up or you will be turned away.

Please note that from 1 April 2011 all visitors to the Parliamentary Archives searchroom are required to produce photographic identification on request.  

Location and Access

Our search room is inside the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament). The nearest Underground station is Westminster, on the District, Circle and Jubilee Lines. Buses stop near Parliament Square in Victoria Street and in Whitehall. Bus and Underground services provide good connections to the nearest main line railway stations at Victoria, Waterloo and Charing Cross.

There is no parking available at the Houses of Parliament, but there is a public underground car park at Abingdon Green, less than a minute's walk away.  The Houses of Parliament are inside the London congestion charging zone.

Access to the Archives is via Black Rod's Garden Entrance (marked 10 on this map (PDF PDF 481 KB)), the public entrance nearest to the Victoria Tower on the west front of the Houses of Parliament. The searchroom can be accessed by wheelchair users, but please contact us in advance if you have any specific requirements.  You will be security searched on entry to the building.

Opening Hours and Closure Dates

The search room is generally open to members of the public Monday to Friday (Public Holidays excepted) from 9.30 am to 5 pm. We occasionally close for reasons including staff training and media use, so please contact us in advance of your visit to reserve a seat, giving at least two working days' notice.

Documents can normally be produced on request, except between 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm and after 4 pm.

The Archives search room closes for annual stocktaking in the last two weeks of November (exact dates are advertised near the time). No search room visits are possible during this period. We apologise for the inconvenience. 

Facilities at the Archives

The search room supervisor will advise about use of the records and explain the range of catalogues and other finding aids which are available together with works of biographical and parliamentary reference.

Searchers are requested to help safeguard our documentary heritage for the use of future generations by observing the search room regulations for the handling of records. These are set out on the search room table placemats.

Searchers are welcome to use laptop computers (for which there are plug sockets). The use of dictaphones is at the discretion of the supervisor.

There are four PCs for public use in the search room with Internet access available for research purposes (checking of personal email is not allowed). Ethernet connections are not available. However, free wireless internet  is available for searchers to use on their own laptops or mobile computers. Ask the search room supervisor for a login and password on your arrival.

Digital cameras are permitted but no flash may be used. From 1 April 2011 there is a fee for use of digital cameras in the searchroom of £5 per day. See our statement on Use of personal technology devices for copying records in the Parliamentary Archives.

Onsite Reprographic services are available for copying and scanning records up to AO size. 

Toilets (including one suitable for wheelchair users) and a first aid point are in the vicinity of the search room. 

There is a small kitchen area where users may eat their own food. Tea, coffee and drinking water are available, plus a fridge and microwave. Refreshment facilities in the Palace of Westminster are not open to the public but there are various sandwich bars, pubs and restaurants nearby. No food or drink is permitted in the searchroom.

The nearest cash machines are at Westminster tube station, or on Victoria Street. Please be aware that only cash or cheques can be accepted in the search room for copying payments, not credit cards.

Mobile phones should be turned off or switched to silent mode in the searchroom. There is storage for bags and coats but not for large suitcases.

Parliamentary Archives Statement of Public Services

Back to Archives Home Page

Related information

Explore the history, building and collections of Parliament and the impact of Parliament on everyday lives over the centuries

Who Do You Think You Are?