Ormskirk Market Day

Government confirms transition to ‘20-year rule’ will begin from 2013

The Government will move towards releasing records when they are 20 years old instead of 30 from next year, making thousands of historical records public much earlier than previously possible.

From 2013, two years’ worth of government records will need to be transferred to The National Archives over a 10 year transition period until a new ‘20-year rule’ is reached in 2023. After this point, government will revert to transferring a single year’s worth of 20 year old records to The National Archives each year.

The move from a 30-year rule represents a major change for government and must be managed in an affordable way. As such, a phased approach will be adopted. The transition beginning in 2013, will apply to the majority of public records transferred to The National Archives and 70 institutions that act as their own place of deposit, with the exception of records selected for transfer to one of the 116 local authority places of deposit, where the impact of introducing the change now could outweigh any benefit. The intention is to commence a second 10 year transitional period for these organisations from 2015, subject to the outcome of a full impact and cost assessment.

The announcement on Friday, 14 July follows the completion of The Review of the 30 Year Rule in 2009 and the government’s decision to introduce a 20-year rule.


What is The National Archives doing for local authority places of deposit?

Local government is facing additional budgetary constraints and we want to ensure the balance of burden and benefit to local authority places of deposit and their local communities is maintained despite challenging circumstances. As a result, ministers have agreed that impact and costs of introducing a ‘20-year rule’ must be established before these archives begin transition to ensure implementation is managed in an affordable and transparent way.

We are working to help ensure that the transition to a ‘20-year rule’ has minimal impact by:

  • Involving these organisation on the impact and cost assessment
  • identifying efficiencies in record selection and transfer process and providing updated guidance, and
  • ensuring any benefits resulting from the first transition are shared with local authority archives.


To find out more go to our website or contact the Engagement Team, Archive Sector Development http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/ask-question.htm


Leah Chapman | Programme Officer (Co-ordination & Communications) | Archives Sector Development
The National Archives | Kew | Richmond | Surrey TW9 4DU | 020 8392 5270 www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Beryl Evans
FFHS Archives Liaison Officer
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