Transferring information to the National Archives

Australian Government agencies must transfer selected information and records to the National Archives for preservation and access. These are records that have been identified as 'Retain as national archives' (RNA) in a records authority and are no longer used on a regular basis.

Action 14 of the Building trust in the public record policy specifies that ‘retain as national archives’ information assets must be transferred to the care of the National Archives as soon as practicable, or within 15 years of creation. This is required by the Archives Act 1983.

Transferring records to the National Archives is a collaborative process. We provide advice to help your agency identify and prepare records for transfer.This includes transferring custody of records to the National Archives or entering into agreed distributed custody arrangements.

We prioritise transfer of paper-based, audio-visual and digital records based on the content, age and quantity of records.

Transfer steps

There are several steps to transferring your records to the National Archives.

Identify your records for transfer

Confirm with your records management area that the:

Contact us to discuss your transfer

If you are planning to transfer RNA records to the National Archives please contact us, through the Agency Service Centre, so that we can discuss the process with your agency.

Please also refer to the Initial assessment questions which are used to inform each transfer proposal. The timing for each transfer is agreed on a case by case basis. For physical records, the preservation and storage requirements of the records will inform the repository location your records will be transferred to.

For digital records, we discuss digital transfer requirements such as:

  • records classification and format
  • application of the National Archives’ Preservation Digitisation Standards
  • volume of records in gigabytes/terabytes
  • checksums
  • metadata required, including application of the National Archives’ minimum metadata set
  • migration of records to an external storage device for transfer.

Prepare your records for transfer

Make sure the records:

  • are sentenced as ‘Retain as national archives’ (RNA) using a current records authority
  • are no longer needed for current business use
  • belong to the same series
  • have the same security classification within the designated transfer. Arrangements for transfer of records with a classification of ‘protected’ or above must be discussed on a case by case basis prior to transfer.
  • are in record number (control symbol) order
  • are in an appropriate digital format for transfer if created from 1 January 2016, or are digitised to National Archives’ preservation standards. When the prescribed conditions of General Records Authority 31 (GRA31) are met, the physical records may be destroyed after digitisation.

Refer to the National Archives’Guidelines for packing and transporting non-digital archival records for physical records labelling, packaging and transport advice. Please contact us early for specific guidance prior to transfer through the Agency Service Centre.

Provide digital records to us on an agreed portable storage device such as a USB or hard drive.

For more details, refer to Preparing records for transfer.

Complete and return transfer documents

We will send you transfer documents to complete and return as part of the transfer process. These are similar for physical and digital transfers.

The transfer documents include:

  • a Transfer Proposal Approval (TPA) form
  • an unclassified format specific item list
  • guidelines on how to complete each form.

Check the records match the information in the item list and TPA form.

Transfer approval and confirmed delivery date

After reviewing your TPA form and item list, we may have further questions or may ask you to revise the transfer documents before we approve the transfer.

When we approve the transfer, we will:

  • schedule the transfer delivery date and location
  • advise you of the next steps to take.

Transfer completion

Your agency transports the records to the agreed National Archives repository on the agreed delivery date, at your agency’s expense. The records should remain in your agency’s custody until then.

Follow the Australian Government Protective Security Framework for handling and transporting classified records. Ask your agency security area for advice.

We will let you know when your transfer is complete and provide you with relevant documentation.

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