Clearance to consult (public archives)
Public records are openly accessible, with the exception of certain types of documents for which access dates are fixed, in accordance with article L. 213-2 of the French Heritage Code. It is however possible to request clearance to consult records that are not yet openly accessible.
When you draw up your "list of reference numbers" in your personal workspace on the online catalogue, a table displays the automated results. Documents marked as "access to record group blocked" are not yet available for open access,
in which case you may request clearance to consult.
- Return to your list of reference numbers, click the check box for the reference(s) for which you want the restriction to be lifted,
- then click on "clearance to consult public record prior to legal access date" (at the bottom of the screen).
- Fill out the form and click on "submit request",
- then click on "print request". You need to sign the form. Once you have signed it, hand it in at the main reading room desk or send it by post to:
Direction des fonds
59, rue Guynemer
93383 Pierrefitte-sur-Seine cedex
Your request will be transmitted to the authority that produced the documents. You will only be granted access to these records if that authority gives its approval. You will be informed by post.
You will receive an answer within two months of your request being registered (art. L. 231-3 of the French Heritage Code). If you do not receive a response within this period it means that your request has been turned down.
Only request records that are useful for your research, as requests for large numbers of documents may be rejected.
For university research it is a good idea to append a brief note from your supervisor supporting your request.
It is essential that you know the reference number for the article(s) concerned in order to place a request. Incomplete requests cannot be processed. If you do not know the reference number of the document you wish to consult because the corresponding calendar has not been published or is not yet available online, you will need to come to the Archives Nationales in order to find the reference.
Clearance is strictly personal. If several people wish to consult the documents for which a request is being filed, each person needs to make a separate request.
Documents for which clearance has been granted can only be copied if authorisation to do so has been requested along with clearance, and formal authorisation been granted, irrespective of the means used to copy the document. You will not be able to copy a record you have come to consult unless you have such authorisation.
Tracking progress with your request
Click on "track my forms" in your personal workspace of the online catalogue (you can also reprint your request from here if need be).
Once your request has been processed the Archives Nationales will send you a letter informing you of the decision of the competent authorities.
If you have received clearance for all the records corresponding to a given reference number, request access to these from your personal workspace on the online catalogue. If you have received clearance for extracts corresponding to a given reference number, you will need to contact the person indicated in the letter you have received. The Archives Nationales will then reserve the extract for the date indicated.
The reason must be given for any refusal to communicate public records (article L. 213-5 of the French Heritage Code).
If you consider that a refusal you have received is unjustified or if you wish to appeal against the reason, you can file an appeal with the CADA (Commission d'Accès aux Documents Administratifs, Commission for Access to Administrative Documents), within two months of being notified of the refusal, in accordance with article 20 of law 78-753 of 17 July 1978.
Go to the online catalogue