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. The FCO has now deployed most of its file transfer resources back onto the review and release of high priority annual transfer files.

Timetable for preparing annual departmental files for release

The timetable below shows the order in which the FCO is preparing these 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 Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council. 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 files as follows:

Class description TNA Class Record year Readiness for transfer to TNA
Arms control and disarmament 66 1982 Available at TNA
Central Africa Department 106 1982 Available at TNA
Claims 64 1982 Available at TNA
Commonwealth Co-ordination Unit 68 1982 Available at TNA
Communications Department 19 1982 Available at TNA
Consular 47 1982 Available at TNA
Cultural relations 13 1982 Available at TNA
Defence 46 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Eastern Africa 31 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Eastern European and Soviet 28 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Energy 96 1982 Available at TNA
European Community External 98 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
European Community Internal 30 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Far Eastern 21 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Financial relations 59 1982 Available at TNA
Hong Kong and General 40 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Information policy 26 1982 Available at TNA
Latin America 7 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Legal 52 1982 Available at TNA
Library and records 12 1982 Available at TNA
Marine and transport 76 1982 Available at TNA
Mexico and Caribbean 99 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Middle East 8 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Migration and Visa 50 1982 Available at TNA
Nationality and treaty 53 1982 Available at TNA
Near Eastern and North Africa 93 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
North America 82 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Nuclear energy 151 1982 Available at TNA
Overseas Labour Adv 71 1982 Available at TNA
Parliamentary Commissioner 72 1982 Available at TNA
Planning staff 49 1982 Available at TNA
Protocol 57 1982 Available at TNA
Research 51 1982 Available at TNA
Republic Of Ireland 87 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
South Asian 37 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
South East Asian 15 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
South Pacific 107 1982 Available at TNA
Southern Africa 105 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Southern Europe 9 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Available at TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
Trade relations 69 1982 Available at TNA
UK Presidency secretariat 104 1982 Available at TNA
United Nations 58 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 2016
    1985 2016-2017
    1986 2017
West Africa 65 1982 Available at TNA
West Indian and Atlantic 44 1982 Available at TNA
Western Europe 33 1982 Available at TNA
    1983 Available at TNA
    1984 Transferred to TNA
    1985 2016-2017
    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
1984 2287
1985 6564

Standard departmental files created in 1986 or later are currently being selected and reviewed for permanent preservation.

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