Research Our Records

Research 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 Research Card:

Research Card Requirements

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

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

To obtain a Research Card, an applicant must:

  • Show official identification that includes a photograph. Acceptable IDs include driver's license, passport, and school and employment identification.
  • Complete a short form giving full name, permanent address, telephone number, and a brief description of the proposed research topic.
  • View a short Researcher Orientation presentation emphasizing the safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules.
  • New researchers should plan for a total of 15-20 minutes to complete the registration process.

Your Research Card must be presented during each research visit.

Preview the Researcher Orientation Slideshow

Researchers at the National Archives Research Rooms and Presidential Libraries will view this Researcher Orientation Slideshow before receiving a Research Card.

  • This slideshow 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.

Preview the Researcher OrientationHelp Us Protect the Records
Orientation for Researchers at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

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

Renewing or replacing your Research Card

Your Research Card will be valid for one year.

  • You may renew your Research Card up to 30 days before expiration date. If your Research Card has already expired, please bring it with you when you come in to renew.
  • If you forget or lose your Research Card, talk to the staff when you arrive on your next planned research visit.

Procedures for replacing your Research Card vary slightly at different facilities.