Federal Records Management

Accessioning Electronic Records

When preparing permanent electronic and special media records for transfer to the National Archives, please consult the NARA electronic records archivist for your agency. You may also contact Etransfers@nara.gov.

Federal agencies are required to accession their permanent records into the National Archives and Records Administration. Authority and regulations for this requirement are found in 36 CFR 1235. Additional requirements and guidance include:

Legacy Schedules

Not all currently approved disposition authorities have been entered into ERA, but in order to create a Transfer Request in ERA the user must select the disposition authority for the records. Records Management Services (ACNR) is responsible for systematically entering legacy disposition authorities (N1 and NC1 numbers) into ERA. If your agency plans to accession permanent records associated with a Legacy Records Schedule, then check whether the Legacy Records Schedule Item exists in ERA. If it is not in ERA, then ACNR will enter the legacy disposition authority upon request.

To request entry of a legacy disposition authority:

  • Send your request via email to: legacy.schedule@nara.gov. Your request must include a complete disposition authority citation (NARA job number and item number). Manual citations are not acceptable. Please see the ERA Agency User Manual for further details.

ERA Transfer Request (TR) Fields

The following are explanations for the TR fields most frequently needing clarification. Note that mandatory fields are indicated on the TR by a red asterisk (*).

Disposition Authority Number: This field is the identifying number of the approved Records Schedule Item or Legacy Schedule Item. Only one Disposition Authority Number can be linked to a TR. A separate TR does not need to be created for a Legacy Schedule documentation item; documentation files should be included in the TR for the records.

Electronic Legacy Data: Agencies creating a new TR should choose No. Legacy Data applies to previously accessioned records that NARA is migrating to ERA.

Major/Minor Subdivisions (not mandatory): These fields should contain the offices under which the records being transferred were created, NOT the Records Management offices transferring the records. Only complete these fields if the information is known.

Transfer Group Description: This field should contain the title of the series and inclusive dates, and not a historical synopsis or description of the record content.

Type of Legal Transfer: The dropdown menu options are Annual FRC Move, Direct Offer, or Pre-Accession. Most electronic records transfers are a Direct Offer. If Pre-Accession is selected, then a valid date on which NARA can take legal custody must be provided. For information on pre-accessioning, see below.

Inclusive Dates: Use the dates in the archival materials that are covered by the content of the records.

Access Restrictions: The options in the dropdown menu indicate whether records are security classified, subject to FOIA exemptions, or subject to other statutory exemptions. Please only choose Restricted-Fully, Restricted-Partly, or Unrestricted, and complete the required associated fields.

  • Restricted-Fully: All records in this transfer are restricted. This applies to:
    • Records that are security classified (Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, SCI). Include FOIA (b)(3) as the specific restriction.
    • Records that are subject to the Privacy Act. Include FOIA (b)6) as the specific restriction.
  • Restricted-Partly: Some records in this transfer are restricted. Include an attachment or other documentation identifying the restricted records.
  • Unrestricted: Records in this transfer are not restricted.

Privacy Act Notice and Federal Register citation: If records are subject to the Privacy Act then choose yes and provide the Federal Register citation.

Use Restrictions: This field refers to copyright, donor, or other restrictions on how the records may be used by the researcher.

Records Type: More than one General Records Type may be chosen. Typically both Data Files and Textual Records are chosen.

Transfer Group Disposition Date: The date on which the records became eligible for legal transfer to NARA as specified by the Records Schedule Item.

Location of Records: These fields contain information about the location of the records. There are two possible paths for completing these fields:

If your agency has not yet sent the records to NARA, complete the fields this way:

  • Current Physical Location of Records:
    • Agency Location: Yes
    • Agency Name and Address: Provide the information
  • Destination Physical Location of Records:
    • Location: National Archives at College Park – Archives II (College Park)
    • Destination Unit: NWME – Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division
  • Transfer Method:
    • Select Electronic Records on Physical Media, and add media count and type.

If your agency is submitting electronic records to NARA electronic records accessioning and processing staff via electronic means for ingest to ERA (SFTP, direct download from an agency website, or other), complete the fields this way:

  • Current Physical Location of Records:
    • Agency Location: No
    • Location: National Archives at College Park – Archives II (College Park)
    • Current Custodial Unit: NWME – Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division
  • Destination Physical Location of Records:
    • Location: Electronic Records Archives (ERA)
    • Destination Custodial Unit: NWME – Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division
  • Transfer Method:
    • Select Electronic Records Transferred by Electronic Means

If your agency is considering ingest directly against an approved Transfer Request in ERA, please consult with the appropriate accessioning and processing staff member

Submitting and Approving the TR
Once a draft of the TR is complete, the Transfer Official submits the TR to the Agency Approving Official. Then the Agency Approving Official rejects or submits the TR. If rejected, the TR returns to the Transfer Official. If submitted, the TR goes to the NARA Transfer Staff for approval. Either the Transfer Official or Agency Approving Official must notify the NARA archivist that the TR has been submitted.

Rejected TRs
A TR may be rejected by NARA if we identify discrepancies in any fields. The accessioning archivist will notify you of the corrections that are needed and then the TR can be resubmitted.

Transfer Media
Agencies may transfer electronic records on magnetic tape, compact disk-read only memory (CD-ROM), digital versatile disc-read only memory (DVD-ROM), external hard drive, and via file transfer protocol (FTP). Please contact your NARA electronic records archivist to discuss other options or limitations.

Please see Pre-Accessioning for Existing Records Schedules for disposition instructions for agencies that have existing records schedules that allow pre-accessioning. 

Classified Records
ERA is an unclassified system but classified records still require a Transfer Request to be completed in ERA. Keep in mind that no classified information may be included in ERA. The records themselves will be stored in a classified system.

The form NA-14130b, Classified Records Transfer Checklist for Electronic Records & Digital Special Media Recordsshould also accompany all classified records Transfer Requests as an attachment.

Updated: November 15, 2022