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Access to National Archives Facilities - Security Requirements

The security procedures are different at each National Archives location based on many factors, including function and size of the facility, and are subject to change without notice.

National Archives Facilities

When entering National Archives facilities, you must provide valid photographic identification, if requested, and are subject to inspection upon entering and exiting.

Note 1: The REAL ID Act does not apply for access to public spaces of National Archives facilities; however, you may still be asked to identify yourself once in the building for other administrative purposes. 

Electronic and/or physical surveillance are used at all facilities.

Smoking is prohibited in all National Archives facilities.

Dangerous weapons are also prohibited in accordance with 18 U.S.C. 930 and 36 CFR 1280 along with other controlled items to include the following prohibited and controlled items: 

Firearms and other projectile weapons; bladed, edged, or sharp tools or implements; club-like items and striking devices; destructive devices, explosives or combustible chemical compounds and mixtures; disabling chemicals and other dangerous items; tools of the trade; and sporting equipment.  Review the ISC publication, Items Prohibited from Federal Facilities for more details and the full list of items.

Note 2: In-jurisdiction law enforcement officers and Federal officials such as dignitary protective service agents are exempt from weapons prohibitions; however, must be in uniform or present verifiable organization credentials. Out of jurisdiction law enforcement officers are not exempt unless coordinated with the facility and approved in advance.


If you have a heart pacemaker or other medical device that might be disrupted by the magnetometer (or give a false reading), ask to be screened with a hand-held wand.

National Archives at College Park, MD

The only access to the public and the staff-only areas of the National Archives at College Park are through doors in the main lobby, where "airport-style" security screening is instituted. You are required to pass through magnetometers and all your packages, briefcases, and personal belongings must pass through an x-ray scanner.

When approaching the building on the access road from Adelphi Road you must stop at the active guard station. You must show a current driver's license and other occupants in vehicles will be required to provide identification if asked. Researcher cards, other photo identification or a driver's license for passengers are acceptable. Please park in the area directed by the security officer, as parking spaces are limited. Exit screening is also conducted upon departing research rooms and restricted staff space.

The cafeteria and adjoining patio are open for your use.

Emergency call boxes on each of the three levels of the parking garage, the satellite parking lot and the walking path around the building are in service and may be used, if needed. The blue light on the top of the unit identifies the call boxes. Pushing the red button puts you in immediate contact with the security office.

National Archives Building in Washington, DC

There are three public entrances for the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. The research entrance is located on Pennsylvania Avenue and entrances for access to the museum, gift shop, theater, learning center and conference rooms are located on Constitution Avenue. The Constitution Avenue general visitor and time ticket entrance is located on the ramp near 9th Street and Special Events entrance is located on the ramp near 7th Street. Upon entering the building you must pass through the magnetometer and send your personal belongings through the x-ray scanner.

For the research entrance, after entry screening, a security officer will provide you with a temporary NARA-issued identification. You must wear it at all times and it will indicate the areas of the building you are authorized to access. You will also be exit screened when  departing the research room and building.

When you depart the building, return your visitor identification card to the security desk in the Pennsylvania Avenue lobby.

Presidential Libraries, National Personnel Records Center, Archives, Federal Records Centers and other Facilities

The prohibited and controlled items apply to all National Archives facilities; however, access procedures are different for each location. The public website for each location includes visitor information and site contact information for special accommodations or additional questions.

National Archives Security Procedures & Information

Security procedures for access to National Archives facilities are in compliance with Federal Interagency Security Committee (ISC) standards consistent with Executive Order 12977.  

NARA has developed an Active Shooter Response Guidein the event of an incident.  Your safety is our concern and we suggest you review the response plan to better understand what to do to protect yourself.   

The Code of Federal Regulations outlines additional rules of conduct on NARA Property.  

These are measures to protect you, our staff, the nation's records, and these buildings. One of our primary missions is to promote easy access to records, and we will make every effort to see that these security measures do not unduly interfere with your visit. Thank you for your cooperation.