Guidance

FCO archive records

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Archive Management Team.

The FCO’s commitment to transparency

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to increasing public knowledge about foreign policy and the work of the FCO. As the Minister for Europe stated to Parliament in December 2013, the FCO remains fully committed both to complying with our public records obligations and to doing so with maximum transparency.

The FCO archive

The FCO records archive consists principally of records in paper format. Most of these records are housed in a dedicated records management facility at FCO Hanslope Park. The archive is managed by the Archive Management Team (AMT). The function of the archive is to preserve records which are not in day-to-day business use by the FCO and which (following a selection process) may ultimately transfer to The National Archives (TNA).

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), like all government departments, maintains an archive of its standard departmental files. We hold around 600,000 of these files, most of which are not yet due for transfer to The National Archives (TNA).

We hold a further collection of files, also estimated at 600,000, which are known as ‘special collections’ - those which are outside the normal FCO filing system. These special collections files are generally older than the departmental files and were created mainly by the FCO or its predecessors (such as the Colonial Office).

The FCO’s file release process

The FCO’s file release process guidance sets out the file review and release process in detail.

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