Federal Records Centers

Records Transfer to a Federal Record Center

This section provides information on:

  •  organizing your records for transfer
  • packing and labeling your boxes and pallets
  • filling out a records transfer request
  • submitting and receiving approval for a records transfer request
  • shipping records to the FRC and retaining appropriate documentation

If you have questions on any step of the transfer process, please call the staff at your local FRC for guidance.

Please note that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has special procedures for transferring records. If you are transferring records to NPRC, please see the NPRC section of the Toolkit

Organizing Your Records

Before transferring records to the FRC, separate the records having the same disposition authority code into series. Each item or subordinate item in your records disposition schedule represents a series. Identify and separate your records into series by records schedule item number and cutoff date. Each series will be handled as a separate transfer. Each transfer must consist of at least one box and normally only one closing year date for a series of records.

A series is a block of records having the same disposition authority and same disposition date.

Tips for Packing the Records

(See Figures 1 and 2)

  • Please do not over pack the boxes. Leave a 1 - to 2 - inch space in each box to allow ease of reference.
  • Do not put additional material on the bottom, side, or top of the records in the box.
  • Mixed media (e.g., computer diskettes, microfilm, or videocassettes) cannot be stored in the same environment as paper records. Please do not include these media in the same transfer with paper records without prior approval from the FRC.

Boxes packed with letter and legal sized files.                                        

Packing Pallets

Local FRCs differ slightly regarding the stacking of pallets and the preferred order of boxes on pallets. Please contact the transfer office at your local FRC to confirm proper box order for your FRC. E-mail addresses are available on the FRC Directors' page. Pallets should be securely banded with shrink-wrap, steel, plastic, or cord strapping before shipping.

Preparing and Submitting the Standard Form 135

The records transfer request in ARCIS and the SF 135 contain important information about your transfer that enables the FRC to properly document, store, and service your records. A completed records transfer request in ARCIS or an SF 135 must be submitted to your records center for approval before shipping records. A separate records transfer request or SF 135 is required for each individual record series having the same disposition authority and disposition date.

Did you know?
NARA no longer requires original signatures on the SF 135. Save time and submit your SF 135 electronically.

Filling Out the SF 135

  • Item 1: Enter the name and address of the FRC to which you are submitting records. See the FRC Directors page
  • for the most current address information.
  • Item 2: Enter the name of the transferring agency official. To expedite and improve the transfer process for our customer agencies, FRCs will accept SF 135s without original signatures. Please note that your agency may have internal procedures that require signatures. If you are in doubt, please contact your agency's records officer.
  • Item 3: Provide the name, office, business telephone number (including area code), and e-mail address of the person to contact about the records.
  • Item 4: Completed by the FRC.
  • Item 5: Provide the complete address of the transferring office. If records come from one office, but the SF 135 should be sent to a different office, please include BOTH addresses. Specify where the approved SF 135 should be sent, and where the final SF 135 should be sent.
  • Item 6: Once a transfer is approved by the FRC the transfer number is cited here on the SF 135 and is marked on the boxes that can now be shipped according to FRC instructions.The ARCIS transfer number is a unique 4-part number ("PT-XXX-YYYY-####" where XXX is the record group expressed as a 3-digit number, YYYY is the Fiscal Year, and #### is a system generated number). This differs from legacy transfers where it was a 3-part number ("PXXX-YY-#### where P is the facility code, XXX is the record group expressed as a 3-digit number, YY is the Fiscal Year expressed as 2 digits, and #### was a NARS5 generated number).
  • Item 6(a): Enter the NARA record group number assigned to the records of the agency (or component) making the transfer.
  • Item 6(b): Enter the last two digits of the current fiscal year.
  • Item 6(c): Unless NARA has granted authorization to your agency to pre-assign numbers, FRC staff will assign a sequential number in this column.
  • Item 6(d): For transfer and billing purposes, a standard-size box equals one cubic foot. Enter the total number of boxes included in this transfer. If the records do not fit in a standard records center box, leave this column blank, add the dimensions of the container to item 6(f), and contact the FRC staff to verify acceptance.
  • Item 6(e): Enter the inclusive range of numbers (e.g., 1-30).
  • Item 6(f): Describe the records in sufficient detail to allow FRC personnel to verify compliance with your records schedule. You may wish to use the series description provided in your Records Control Schedule or the General Records Schedule. A complete series description includes the series title and inclusive dates (start and end) of the records.
  • Include the organizational component that created the records if the component is other than that described in item 5.
  • Indicate in this section if the series of records is subject to the Privacy Act. Since SF 135s are public records, information included on SF 135s (including folder title lists) should not contain National Security Classified information or information restricted by exemption B6, the Freedom of Information Act.
  • If the records are scheduled for permanent retention, are unscheduled, or if disposition instructions indicate sampling records is necessary, you must include a detailed folder listing for each box in item 6(f) (if space permits) or as an attachment. If you are submitting the SF 135 electronically, you may send the listing as a separate e-mail attachment.
  • Special description requirements apply for certain records and should be stated in item 6(f):
  • Stratified Report Invoicing: For agencies participating in Stratified Report Invoicing, a caret (^) followed by a valid two-digit charge code must be placed at the beginning of the series description.
  • Site Audit Records: State "GAO Site Audit" if the records have been so designated by the Government Accountability Office, and indicate whether the site audit records pertain to Native Americans
  • Non-paper-based and special format records: These can include records such as microfilm, engineering drawings (because of their special format), electronic media, etc. Include the format type in 6(f) (see www.archives.gov/frc/codes.html for information on specific codes for non-textual record types).
  • Item 6(g): Restrictions
  • If your records pertain to National Security Information, you must complete this section using one of the three National Security Classification codes (C=Confidential, S=Secret or T=Top Secret). Please note that the codes Q, R, or W (listed on the back of the SF 135) should no longer be used. If you designate a National Security Classification, you MUST also indicate whether the records are designated as Code E (Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data). For further information, please see EO 12356 (http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12356.html), later amended by EO 13292. Only the Washington National Records Center at Suitland can store classified records.
  • If there are no special restrictions on your records, you may designate code N or leave this section blank. In this case the default restriction (restricted to authorized agency users and researchers) will apply.
  • Cite the appropriate schedule identifier and item number in your agency records schedule or the General Records Schedule (GRS). For accountable officers' records, cite the appropriate item from GRS 6. You may also use the General Records Schedules (36 CFR 1228.40-46) when dealing with records common to most offices such as contracts, travel and transportation records, and similar records. If you need further assistance, contact your agency's records officer. Also indicate in this section if the records are subject to extended retention, commonly known as a "freeze" on destruction. The "freeze code" is a three-letter designation created by FRC staff to identify the freeze pertinent to the records.
  • Item 6(i): Follow the instructions on your Item 6(i): Follow the instructions on your records schedule to compute the disposition date. Because disposal is accomplished in quarterly cycles (i.e., January, April, July, and October), advance the date to the beginning of the next calendar quarter to obtain the actual date of disposal. For example, if the ending date of your records is September 2006, and the retention period is three years, then the disposal date will be October 2009. Permanent records are offered to the National Archives on an annual basis; no month is shown in the disposition date field. Place "P" after the offer year. If records are unscheduled, please indicate "U" in this section.
  • Item 6(i), 6(k), 6(l), and 6(m) are completed by FRC personnel.

Stratified Report Invoicing refers to billing that is broken out by different functions and/or geographical locations within the same agency. If you are unsure whether your agency participates in Stratified Report Invoicing, contact your agency's records officer, or your NARA FRC Account Manager.

Submitting the SF 135

ARCIS- Archives and Records Centers Information System    

(http://www.archives.gov/frc/arcis) is the primary method for submitting records transfer requests to the Federal Records Centers.

Did you know?
NARA no longer requires original signatures on the SF 135. Save time and submit your records transfer request via ARCIS or submit your SF 135 electronically.

Agencies may submit a records transfer request via ARCIS, submit an SF-135 electronically or fax/mail a hard copy to the FRC. Submitting via ARCIS or electronically reduces mail time, is more secure, and allows revisions to be made in a timely manner. You may obtain an electronic version of the SF 135 online in Word or PDF format (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/sf-135-intro.html).

Before shipping records, you must submit a records transfer request or send a completed SF 135 to your local FRC and receive approval of the form from the center. The e-mail address for each FRC is available on the FRC Directors page (www.archives.gov/frc/directors.html).

Each individual record series being transferred requires a separate SF 135. See 36 CFR 1228.160 (e) for more details.

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

Approval of the records transfer request, Standard Form 135 and Preparation for Transfer

After you submit the records transfer request or SF 135, the FRC staff will review it to ensure that it is complete and accurate. FRC staff will then assign the transfer number and will return one copy of the SF 135 to you within 10 working days, authorizing shipment of the boxes. You must include a copy of the approved SF 135 in box #1 of each transfer. If you submitted a SF 135 electronically, print out the approved copy of the SF 135 that was e-mailed back to you by the FRC and place it in the first box as the "shipment" copy. If the boxes or other containers are sealed and must not be opened by NARA staff, place this shipment copy in an envelope securely taped to the outside of box #1.

Always retain a copy of the detailed box content listing so that you may provide agency box numbers when requesting reference service. We also strongly recommend that you include a copy of the box content listing in box #1.

FRC staff can prepare detailed folder indexing for your transfers on a fee-for-service basis. Please see "Special Services" for more details.

After the FRC staff shelve the records, they will return a completed, signed copy of the SF 135 to you as an official receipt. Your agency staff will use the transfer number when requesting records. This receipt copy is your official record of the transfer and should be retained in your files.

Freeze--In records disposition, those temporary records that cannot be destroyed on schedule because of special circumstances, such as a court order or investigation, require a temporary extension of the approved retention period.

Unscheduled records are Federal records whose final disposition has not been approved by NARA in a records schedule.

An active record is a record necessary to conduct the current business of an office.
Transfers typically contain one series--the records all have one subject, function, or activity in common.

Mixed series are records grouped together into a transfer that do not have any relationship with each other, aside from being from the same agency or office. Mixed-series records may have different disposition authorities but must have the same disposition date.

Permanent records are records that warrant preservation by the Federal Government beyond the time they are needed for administrative, fiscal, or legal purposes because of their historical or other value. The National Archives makes the final determination on permanent records (see 44 USC 29).

Shipping Records

Agencies are urged to arrange for the shipment of their records within 90 days after receipt of the approved records transfer request. If the transfer cannot be made within this period, please advise FRC staff. Unexplained delays of more than 90 days may result in the FRC canceling the approved transfer request.

Agencies are responsible for covering costs of shipping their records to FRCs. You may send your agency's records via the U.S. Postal Service, commercial carrier, common carrier (on pallets), or by agency courier. In addition, some FRCs will pick up agency records through NARA's Metro Courier service at very competitive rates (see the "Special Services" section). Check with your local FRC for scheduling and fees. If you are mailing a shipment of 25 boxes or more, you may send it in a postal container or by bulk mail and the boxes must be palletized. Agencies shipping their boxes on pallets using a commercial carrier should complete a Transportation Services Order (www.archives.gov/frc/forms/transportation-services-order.pdf).

For large shipments of 50 boxes or more, please call your local FRC to schedule a delivery date, and instruct commercial carriers to contact the records center 24 hours before delivery.

FRCs will make every effort to assist and advise agencies during the transfer process.  However, some shipments that arrive at the center may require extensive remedial effort and increased costs. They include those that are out of order, in oversize boxes, damaged, improperly taped, improperly marked, without an approved records transfer request or an SF 135 approved for transfer, or with an SF 135 that does not match the shipment. These costs are the responsibility of the shipping agency.