Research Our Records

Researcher Identification Card Requirements

When you come to a National Archives and Records Administration facility to look at records, you will be issued a researcher identification card.

You do not need a Researcher Identification Card when you are attending an event or visiting a museum at a National Archives facility.

How To Obtain Your Researcher Identification Card

Researcher Identification Cards are only issued when you are doing research in a research room. Researcher Identification Card requirements may vary slightly at different facilities.

  • Please do not come in advance of your research visit solely to get a Researcher Identification Card.

To obtain a Researcher Identification Card, an applicant must:

  • Present a valid government issued picture identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military identification card. A current school identification card will also be accepted from students without a government issued ID.

  • Complete a short form giving full name, permanent address, and telephone number.

  • View a short Researcher Orientation presentation emphasizing the safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules.

  • The registration process can be started from home. New researchers should plan for 10-15 minutes to complete the process once they arrive.

Your Researcher Identification Card must be presented during each research visit.

Researcher Orientation

  • Researchers at the National Archives Research Rooms and Presidential Libraries will complete the Researcher Orientation before receiving a Researcher Identification Card.

  • The orientation aims to help you understand your role in the safeguarding and preservation of our records and to learn about our reference rules, procedures, and practices.

  • You will be required to review this slideshow in person and sign the Researcher Application prior to receiving your Researcher Identification Card. 

Renewing or replacing your Researcher Identification Card

Your Researcher Identification Card will be valid for one year.

  • You may renew your Researcher Identification Card up to 30 days before the expiration date. If your Researcher Identification Card has already expired, please bring it with you when you come in to renew.

  • If you forget or lose your Researcher Identification Card, talk to the staff when you arrive on your next planned research visit.

  • Procedures for replacing your Researcher Identification Card vary slightly at different facilities.