Guidance

Preparation for transfer to The National Archives of FCO annual departmental files

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is required under the Public Records Act to transfer files selected for permanent preservation to The National Archives (TNA).

Work on the release of some 20,000 colonial administration files over the 2011-2013 period regrettably caused a backlog in the regular transfer of FCO annual files to TNA. Our resources have now been deployed onto the current release programme which includes both annual departmental and non-standard files.

Timetable for preparing annual departmental files for release

The timetable below shows the order in which the FCO is preparing 1983 and later files for release and the year in which we expect the files to be ready for physical transfer from the FCO’s archive to The National Archives. Please note that, for forthcoming releases, the timetable does not show the date at which the files will be available for public release at the TNA. Following physical transfer from the FCO, the TNA requires a further period in which to prepare the files for release. Files currently being processed at TNA are shown as “Transferred to TNA”.

For files created in 1983 and later (the beginning of the transition period), we are prioritising the preparation for release of high priority annual departmental files. We have agreed this prioritisation with the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. In deciding how to prioritise annual departmental file series we take into account previous demand at The National Archives.

We expect to complete the preparation of transfer of high priority files as follows (lower priority files will be prepared for transfer after 2022):

Class description TNA Class Record year Readiness for transfer to TNA
Defence 46 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Eastern Africa 31 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Eastern European and Soviet 28 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
European Community External 98 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
European Community Internal 30 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Far Eastern 21 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Hong Kong and General 40 1983 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 Transferred to TNA
    1986 2017
Latin America 7 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Mexico and Caribbean 99 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Middle East 8 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 Transferred to TNA
    1986 2017
Near Eastern and North Africa 93 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
North America 82 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Republic Of Ireland 87 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 Transferred to TNA
    1986 2017
South Asian 37 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
South East Asian 15 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 Transferred to TNA
    1986 2017
Southern Africa 105 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Southern Europe 9 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
United Nations 58 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017
Western Europe 33 1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016
    1986 2017

Number of Files Awaiting Transfer

The following table shows the number of standard annual departmental files which have been selected for permanent preservation but which have not yet transferred to TNA:

Year Total files
1985 3698
1986 7233

Standard departmental files created in 1987 or later are currently being selected and reviewed for permanent preservation.

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