These standards only apply to born-digital files that are created in digital format from the date of issue of these standards.
Born-digital files are files that are created and managed in digital form.
These standards do not apply to digitised files, which are created by scanning or converting physical records (such as paper documents or photographs) into a digital format. Use the Agency Digitisation Specifications when digitising physical records. The Agency Digitisation Specifications contain formats that align with these standards but include additional specifications to ensure that digitised files preserve the authenticity, integrity, reliability and usability of the original records.
These standards do not apply to social media posts or information stored in business systems or databases.
Existing digital files
These standards do not apply to digital files that already exist and were created prior to issue of these standards.
Transferring existing digital files to the National Archives
Existing digital files should be transferred to the National Archives in their current format. We will assess the existing formats and take preservation actions in line with our Digital Preservation Policy.
You do not need to reformat your existing digital files before transferring them to the National Archives.
Converting digital files for business use
You may convert digital files to a new file format for ongoing business use if the original format becomes obsolete or inaccessible.
In this case, you should use one of the file formats outlined in this standard.
Please refer to General Records Authority 31 before destroying any source or original records. This records authority outlines the conditions under which source or original records may be destroyed and when records must be retained in their original format. This includes when converting or migrating records from an older to a more recent format.
Not sure which standard to use?
This diagram can help you decide which file format standard to use for new or existing records.
If you’re still not sure, please contact the National Archives’ Agency Service Centre for advice.