National Archives at St. Louis

How to Access Archival Records,
Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF)

Please note: the following information, regarding access, pertains only to records of veterans who separated from service before 1953. Records of veterans who separated from service after 1952.

How do I request copies of records?

Certain basic information is needed to locate military service records. This information includes: the veteran's complete name as used in service; service number; branch of service; date and place of birth; dates of service. For records affected by the 1973 Fire, additional information, such as place of discharge; last assigned unit; and place of entry into service may be useful.

To obtain a copy of an archival record (for a COPY FEE), a requestor may:

If you prefer to send your request via postal mail or fax, please use the Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. Although not mandatory, using the SF 180 is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Please Note, the veteran's or next-of-kin's signature is not required on a request to obtain copies of archival records.

Please Note: Records of individuals who left service less than 62 years ago are non-archival and remain in the legal custody of the Department of Defense (see Records Center Program for more information on access). Access to those records is restricted by privacy laws (see Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)).

"Emergency" Requests and Deadlines

If your request is urgent (e.g. upcoming surgery, funeral, etc.) and there is a deadline associated with your request, please provide this information in the "Comments" section of eVetrecs or in the "Purpose" section of the SF-180 and fax it to our Customer Service Team at (314) 801-0764. Our goal is to complete all urgent requests within two working days. However, in some instances we can complete requests the same day if necessary. Please contact our customer service staff at (314) 801-0800 if you have questions or require same day service. Due to the large number of calls we receive at this number, hold times are often long. However, once you reach a technician they will be happy to assist you with emergency service.

If your burial request involves internment at a Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery, contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117 or visit their website http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/. We work directly with the Veterans Affairs staff to obtain records to verify service for burial benefits. If the veteran is not going to be interned at a National Cemetery, the requester may fax the SF-180 or signature page from eVetRecs (including signature of the next of kin and proof of death) to the Customer Service Team at (314) 801-0764. If your request involves the burial of a Marine Corps veteran, you may also contact the USMC Liaison Officer at (314) 538-2344.

NOTE:The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center damaged or destroyed 16-18 million Army and Air Force records that documented the service history of former military personnel discharged from 1912-1964. Although the information in many of these primary source records was either badly damaged or completely destroyed, often alternate record sources can be used to reconstruct the service of the veterans impacted by the fire. Sometimes we are able to reconstruct the service promptly using alternate records that are in our holdings, but other times we must request information from other external agencies for use in records reconstruction. In some instances, therefore, requests that involve reconstruction efforts may take several weeks to a month to complete.

Copy Fees:

Archival OMPFs are subject to the NARA fee schedule that authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307).

Online, mailed and faxed requests:

Such requests require the purchase of the COMPLETE photocopy of the OMPF.

  • Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) OMPF: $.80 cents per page ($20 minimum)

  • A routine OMPF of 5 pages or less: $25 flat fee

  • A routine OMPF of 6 pages or more: $70 flat fee (most OMPFs fall in this category)

Visitors to the NPRC Archival Research Room:

There is no fee to request and review an archival record in the Archival Research Room. So too, any number of pages may be copied for a per page fee.

  • Paper to paper copy made by Attendant: $ .80 per page

  • Self service copies are $ .25 per paper to paper copy

If you or your designated representative decide to review the records, please notify us in advance of your visit so we can make the necessary arrangements. You will need to speak to an Attendant at 314-801-0850 to schedule an appointment to visit our Archival Research Room.

Response Time and Checking the Status of a Request:

Response times for records requested from the NPRC vary greatly depending on the nature of the request. While the NPRC works actively to respond to each request by mail or fax in a timely fashion, the Center receives approximately 4,000 - 5,000 requests per day.

Special Note on Calling by Phone: If you have already submitted a request and need to know its status you may speak to a Customer Service Representative. Staff is available to take your call as early as 7:00 am CST and as late as 5:00 pm CST. Our peak calling times are weekdays between 10:00 am CST and 3:00 pm CST:

Telephone: (314) 801-0800
Telephone (Toll Free) 1-866-272-6272

Checking the Status of Your Request by E-mail: Once you have allowed sufficient time for us to receive and process your mailed or faxed request (about 10 days), you may check the status of your request by e-mail through our NPRC Customer Service Center at mpr.status@nara.gov. Please provide the request number if you have one, the name, address and phone number of the requester and the veteran's branch of service to aid us in finding your request in our system. You will receive a return e-mail from us with a projected completion date for your request.

Please review these web pages for information before contacting us.

NOTE: If you send messages using WebTV or a free e-mail service, you will not receive our response if your mailbox is full. Messages sent to full mailboxes are returned to us as "undeliverable." You may wish to include your mailing address in your message so that we may respond via the U.S. Postal Service.

National Archives at St. Louis >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

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