Guidance

Requests for personal data and service records

Requests for access to personal data held by the Ministry of Defence.

Obtaining information about yourself (Subject Access Requests)

Most personal data held by the MOD will relate to current or former civilian staff or members of the armed forces. The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA98) provides access for living individuals (including foreign nationals) to personal data held about them by any organisation.

The MOD does not currently charge for requests made under DPA98 although in certain circumstances, requests for unstructured manual data may attract a fee. DPA98 does not give private individuals access to personal data about other people or non-personal data.

To make a Subject Access Request (SAR) please download and complete DPA SAR Form 1694:

DPA SAR form 1694 (PDF)

DPA SAR form 1694 (DOC)

Please state clearly the information you require and send it, with the necessary proof of identification requested, to the relevant address on the DPA SAR form 1694.

Service records of deceased Service personnel

The MOD is the custodian of the records of service of Service personnel and Home Guard records until they are opened to general public access at the National Archives. Subject to the payment of an administration fee of £30 per record and provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service), certain information can be provided from the records of service of Service personnel on request under the publication scheme.

All information contained in the Home Guard records will normally be provided in full. The scheme allows for information in these records to be exempt from the general provisions of the Freedom of Information Act by virtue of section 21(1) of the Act (information accessible to an applicant by other means).

Request for Service records of deceased Service personnel

Under the scheme, and in recognition of the duty of care owed to the family of the deceased subject, for a period of 25 years following the date of death of the subject and without the consent of the next of kin, MOD will disclose only:

  • surname
  • forename
  • rank
  • service number
  • regiment/corps
  • place of birth
  • age
  • date of birth
  • date of death where this occurred in service
  • the date an individual joined the service
  • the date of leaving
  • good conduct medals (for example, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM)), any orders of chivalry and gallantry medals (decorations of valour) awarded, some of which may have been announced in the London Gazette

After this period, and if it is held, in addition MOD will disclose without the requirement for next of kin consent:

  • the units in which he/she served
  • the dates of this service and the locations of those units
  • the ranks in which the service was carried out and details of campaign medals awarded

The administration fee of £30 will be waived for requests from those who were the spouse or civil partner of the subject at the time of death (or parent if there was no spouse or civil partner).

Where the consent of the immediate next of kin has been given for its release to a third party, the 25 year threshold will not apply allowing the release of all the information available under the publication scheme at any time, subject to the payment of an administration fee of £30 per record and the provision of a death certificate (except where death was in service).

Before requesting information you are advised to carry out searches from sources that provide access to the details of deceased Service personnel at no cost, such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) or the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM) Roll of Honour.

The principal function of the CWGC is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration of Commonwealth military service members who died in the two World Wars. The AFM is dedicated to members of the UK armed forces (Regular and Reserves) killed on duty, or as a result of terrorist action, since World War 2.

While MOD aims generally to provide information where the above conditions are met, it will not disclose any information under the publication scheme where this could prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of its forces. In the very rare case where release of information from a record might be prejudicial, the applicant will be advised of the relevant Freedom of Information Act statutory exemption that applies to its non disclosure.

The information that is held on individuals varies depending on which Service they served with, when they served and the length of their Service. In a small number of cases little or no information may be held. Applicants should be aware that the £30 administration fee is non-refundable whatever the outcome of the search.

How to apply for Service personnel records

If you wish to apply for a search you should download, complete and send to MOD the following forms:

For those who are not the immediate next of kin, and who are applying without the consent of the immediate next of kin, download and complete the ‘Application part 1: general enquirer’s form’ and the ‘Application part 2 form’ for the appropriate Service (Royal Navy, British Army or RAF).

How to apply for Home Guard Service records

Information contained within the Home Guard records is very limited. With a few exceptions it normally consists of one double sided A4 sheet of paper (Army Form W3066) containing personal details on enlistment and very little else. No details are held of the duties performed by an individual during his service.

As required for requests for the records of service of Service personnel, there is also a non-refundable administration charge of £30 and it should be noted that a considerable proportion of searches for Home Guard records prove to be unsuccessful. The sparse information contained in the Home Guard records is normally provided in full.

The Home Guard application form (part 1) and Home Guard search form (part 2) must be completed by enquirers requesting the records of deceased former members of the Home Guard.

If you are a former member of the Home Guard and seek your own record, please complete the DPA SAR form 1694:

DPA SAR form 1694 (PDF)

DPA SAR form 1694 (DOC)

Home Guard Search form: part 2 (DOC)

Further information about Service records held by MOD

Information held by MOD on Royal Navy (RN), Royal Marines (RM), British Army, Royal Air Force (RAF) service records and Home Guard records.

Royal Navy and Royal Marine Service records

The RN Disclosure Cell holds service records for Commissioned and non-commissioned officers (both RN and RM) from 1924 onwards. Information from these records can be requested under the MOD Publication Scheme.

Please see the Royal Navy website for further details about other service records that are held by the National Archives.

British Army Service records

The Army Personnel Centre Historical Disclosures Section holds army service records for officers whose service ended after April 1922 and soldiers whose service ended after January 1921. Information from these records can be requested under the MOD Publication Scheme.

RAF Service Records

The RAF Disclosures section holds service records for non-commissioned and commissioned RAF personnel dating back to 1920. Information from these records can be requested under the MOD Publication Scheme.

Service records that reflect World War 1 service only are held by the National Archives.

Special Subject Access Requests

Potentially hazardous exposure

Following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) there is now a Special Subject Access Request (SSAR) procedure for individuals who are concerned about any potentially hazardous exposure they may have experienced during their military Service or civilian employment with MOD.

If you have a genuine concern about the impact on your health of your exposure to a potentially hazardous situation during your employment with MOD you should use the SSAR procedure to request the information that might allay your fears or enable you to assess the danger to which you might have been exposure.

Porton Down volunteers

Information on the history of Porton Down and guidance on how to make enquiries about any attendance you may have had at this establishment as a volunteer is available here.

Please note that those seeking personal information about themselves, that does not involve potentially hazardous exposure , should continue to use the existing DPA SAR Form 1694 as detailed above.

You should forward the SAR Form 1694 to the appropriate contact point detailed on the form. If for any reason you remain unsure where to send the form, you should contact cio-foi@mod.uk stating where and why you consider your personal data is held within the department.

Making a request for information held on the RAF Casualty Files

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) Air Historical Branch (AHB) is the custodian of the RAF Casualty Files. These historical records include details of aircraft losses from 1940 to the present day and are held in MOD archives until they are transferred and opened to general public at the National Archives as historical records under the Public Records Act.

Subject to certain conditions, as specified below, information in these files is available on request from members of the public under MOD’s publication scheme.

What is held

Casualty files contain varying amounts of information, depending on the incident and the amount of detail collected at the time. Generally the record may contain some of the following information:

  • aircraft type
  • squadron
  • take off time and date
  • target
  • bomb load
  • special equipment carried (if any)
  • names of crew members
  • details of burial(s) (if not in a field grave)
  • cause of loss where known
  • crash location where known

Some of this information will already be in the public domain.

Details of second World War burials relating to air crew losses may be held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Their website address is: http://www.cwgc.org/.

Limitations on disclosure

Under the publication scheme, and in recognition of MOD’s duty of care to the next of kin, for a period of 25 years following the date of death of any person involved in the incident, personal information relating to that person will only be released to the next of kin or those who provide evidence of their consent to disclosure. If you are the next of kin (or can obtain their consent) you can obtain information before the end of the 25 year period by completing the Certificate of Kinship. Unless an individual’s death occurred in the incident, proof of death is required, before any personal information contained within a Casualty file can be disclosed to any person, although other non-personal data will normally be releasable.

Reproduction of information

It should be noted that, for conservation reasons, the AHB do not routinely provide photocopies of information held on the casualty records where the original copies are fragile or in a very poor condition. Information about 2nd World War losses is recorded on poor quality wartime paper and may be partially or wholly illegible. The original copies are susceptible to damage by modern reproduction processes such as photocopying. Information in these cases will be extracted from the files and provided to the requestor. Should you wish to use this service to obtain information held on the RAF Casualty Files, please complete the Application and Search form.

Search fee

There is an administration charge of £30 per record for provision of this service. Cheques should be made payable to “The Accounting Officer, Ministry of Defence”. These records relate primarily to aircraft losses which frequently involved sacrifice by the crew and their families as a result of injury or loss of life. In recognition of this, charges are waived for requests for information made by survivors, the spouse of a crew member, or their children (or parent and sibling where there is no spouse or children).

Until the search has been undertaken there is no way of knowing what information is held. In some cases little or no information will be held; if a search is unsuccessful we are unable to refund payment.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for a search you should download, complete and send to MOD the following forms:

For those who are not the immediate next of kin, and who are applying without the consent of the immediate next of kin , download and complete the Application part 1 General Enquirers RAF Casualty File form and the Application part 2 form:

Or

For those who are the immediate next of kin or who are applying with the immediate next of kin’s consent, download and complete the Application part 1 Next of Kin RAF Casualty File Consent form and the Application part 2 form

How to complain if you are unhappy with the handling of your request

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the reply to your request for information or the way it was handled, or the MOD Publication scheme, you have the right to complain. Before doing so you might like to consider whether less formal action might provide the remedy you seek. For example, if you require clarification of some aspects of the information you received, the person who dealt with your request will probably be best able to help you. However, if you do wish to complain there are two stages to this process:

The Deputy Chief Information Officer will conduct an independent internal review of the way your request was handled. You can contact the Deputy Chief Information Officer by writing to:

Deputy Chief Information Officer, Level 2, MOD Main Building, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HB Email: cio-foi@mod.uk

If you remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you may take your complaint to the Information Commissioner under the provisions of Section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act. Please note that the Information Commissioner will not normally investigate your case until you have exhausted the use of the MOD’s internal complaints procedure. Further details of the role and powers of the Information Commissioner can be found on the Commissioner’s website.

Please see the MOD FOI and EIR complaints and appeals procedure for a full description of the official appeals procedure

MOD appeals procedure (Feb 13)

If you would like to provide feedback, good or bad, about the MOD Publication scheme, or have a specific complaint, please contact the MOD Information Rights Team as follows:

MOD Information Rights Team
1st Floor, Zone N
Main Building
Whitehall
London SW1A 2HB

Email: cio-foi@mod.uk

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