Federal Records Centers

Reference Services

Federal Records Centers process over 13 million reference requests for Federal agencies each year. That's more than 100 requests every minute!

The links below will guide you to resources that will help you request your records online using the ARCIS System.

Requesting Records

Most reference requests are for temporary withdrawal (loan) of agency records. Temporary withdrawals are returned after agency use to the records center for refiling in the FRC.
Permanent withdrawals are removed and retained by the agency. The agency may only return permanently withdrawn whole boxes by submitting a new SF 135. These records must be submitted in new boxes with a new transfer number.

Agencies may submit reference requests using one of four methods:

  1. ARCIS
  2. The Federal Records Centers Reference Request Optional Form 11 (OF 11)
  3. Electronic OF 11 (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/of-11.pdf)
  4. Other formats (including agency request forms)

Note: ARCIS- Archives and Records Centers Information System (http://www.archives.gov/frc/arcis) is the primary method for retrieving records from the Federal Records Centers.
For more information on using ARCIS to submit reference requests go to http://www.archives.gov/frc/records-retrieval.html

To sign up for an ARCIS account, please contact your agency Records Officer.

There is a surcharge on all non-ARCIS Portal records transfer requests.

Specific instructions for each method of requesting records are included in this chapter.

In all cases, include the following information in the reference request:

  1. Transfer number (formerly accession number);
  2. Agency box number;
  3. Folder name/number (if applicable);
  4. The type of request (temporary loan, review, permanent withdrawal, photocopies, SmartScan, etc.);
  5. Date;
  6. Complete name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address of requestor; and
  7. For any records requested under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act, or due to congressional interest, note the applicable reason in the "Remark" section of the OF 11.

Please note that the FRC will bill your agency separately for each item, folder, or carton requested (as specified in your agency's agreement with NARA) regardless of the type of reference service requested.

Agencies participating in Stratified Report Invoicing (see definition) must include a caret (^) followed by a valid, legible two-character charge code encircled on the top right front of every request.

Agencies that use ARCIS may request to have their charge code included as part of their shipping address. Contact your agency's account manager for more information.

Requests Using the OF 11 Reference Request Form

FRCs can work with your agency to make reference requests easy and cost-effective. FRCs can provide copies of the necessary paperwork for reference requests on a reimbursable basis--contact your FRC Director for details.

If your agency does not use ARCIS for reference requests, you may request records by submitting the Federal Records Centers Reference Request, Optional Form 11 (OF 11).

The OF 11 is a three-part form. The records center uses the first part (white) of the OF 11 to service the request. This part remains with the file until it is returned for refiling. The requesting agency retains the second part (pink) for tracking and control purposes. The records center uses the last part (tan) as a charge out for the file/box until it is returned from the agency for refiling.

Agencies may fax requests to the designated numbers listed for each FRC. Agencies may telephone FRCs with emergency requests. Please note that these emergency requests are billed at a higher rate than regular requests.

Requests Using the Electronic OF 11

You may also e-mail reference requests by completing the PDF version of the OF 11 (www.archives.gov/forms/pdf/of-11.pdf) and sending it to your local FRC at the designated e-mail address listed for each center (www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).

Requests in Other Formats (Including Agency Forms)

You may request records via letter, e-mail, memo, or by using an appropriate form from your agency. Please check with your agency's records officer to determine if you should use an agency-specific form.

Delivery of Requested Files to Agencies

In most cases, properly submitted and complete reference requests will be ready for mailing, pickup, or delivery to the agency one business day after receipt by the FRC.

Standard Requests

The U.S. Postal Service or commercial carriers are the standard methods of delivering requested files to agencies.


In a SmartScan request, the requested document is scanned and saved as a pdf document at the FRC, encrypted and password protected, and then sent electronically to the requestor.  The requester is billed for the scanning, retrieval, and refiling service.

Urgent/Special Request

FRC customers have several options for delivery of urgent/special reference requests (requests requiring same-day or overnight delivery):

  • Overnight delivery - agency must provide the name of the delivery courier (i.e. UPS, FedEx) and an account number in the Remarks section of the reference request.
  • Delivery by agency - include the desired pick-up time in the Remarks section of the reference request.  The driver will be required to provide photo identification with agency affiliation at the pick-up time.
  • FRC Metro Courier Service - select Federal Records Centers provided delivery of reference requests.  Contact your FRC for more information.


You should return your agency's files to the Federal Records Center when they are no longer needed. Write the word "REFILE" on the white copy of the OF 11 or ARCIS request form that accompanied the requested file, and return it to the records center. If the OF 11 is no longer attached, provide a brief note annotating "REFILE” and attach it to the file being returned. The note must also include the same information that was contained on the original OF 11: transfer number, transfer’s FRC location number, box number, file name or file number, agency charge code.

Refiles should be returned to the records centers in their original folders or containers (boxes) unless you have made some prior arrangement with the center.  Returning the records in their original folders or containers enables accurate refiling. If the folder or container is unusable for shipment, copy the transfer number, location, box number and any other information on the outside of the container onto the front of the replacement box or folder. FRCs will contact agency customers when expanded refiles are too large for their original location.