Toggle mobile menu visibility

Using the searchroom

Your visit

At our reception, you can complete the registration for your Archives Card by showing your ID, and staff will issue you with your card. If reception is closed, please go directly to the searchroom, at the end of the entrance gallery.

There are lockers at the far end of the gallery. Bags, pens, food (including sweets) and drinks are not allowed in the searchroom, so please leave them in the lockers. Use a token (on the table beside the lockers) to release the locker key from the lock.

In the searchroom, please show your Archives Card to the staff at the counter. Ask staff at the desk if you need advice or help during your visit.

Using the searchroom is free of charge, but we welcome donations to our partner charity: the Norfolk Archives and Development Foundation (NORAH). You can donate online, or there is a donations box in the gallery.

Using original documents

We keep original documents in our strongrooms. You can order documents by completing request slips. We collect requests at the following times (Tuesdays - Thursdays):

  • 10am
  • 10.30am
  • 11.30am
  • 12.30pm
  • 1.30pm
  • 2.30pm
  • 3.30pm

You can put in up to four document requests per collection. Documents arrive in the searchroom between 10-45 minutes after collection times. Please collect your documents from the staff counter.

On Fridays, you must order your documents in advance. There are no document collections during the day.

Please handle documents carefully, remembering that they are unique and irreplaceable. Staff are on hand if you need any help. Please help yourself to document cushions and weights from the shelves to minimise your handling of documents. Note that you must use pencils (not pens) for note taking.

Once you have finished with your documents, please return them to the staff counter.

Using microfilms

Many popular sources are available on microfilm to help save wear and tear on the originals. This includes most parish registers, pre-1858 wills and other probate records. See our Records available on Microfilm page for more details.

You can help yourself to microfilms from the cabinets in the searchroom. Staff will be able to show you how to find the right microfilm and how to use the microfilm readers.

Please ask staff if you need microfiche, which we issue from the staff counter.

On Fridays, please go to the Norfolk Heritage Centre to view microfilms. The Heritage Centre holds copies of most NRO microfilms. The NRO searchroom is only open on Fridays to visitors using original documents who have booked in advance.

Using sound recordings

When you find an entry for a recording on our online catalogue, the access conditions and/or existence of copies field will show if a copy of the recording is available, and whether you can listen to it online or in the searchroom only. This is dependent on copyright. If the recording is only available in our searchroom, please book a seat in advance and mention that you wish to listen to a sound archive recording. You can bring your own headphones, or we can provide them on request. If you listen to a recording we hold, you accept our user agreement and take-down policies.

If a sound archive recording is available online, details of any licence agreement for anything other than non-commercial private research are given in our catalogue, under 'Conditions governing reproduction'.

Please contact us if there is no copy of a sound archive recording available.


You can use the public computers in the searchroom to access the internet and the Record Office's catalogue. We also provide free access to the subscription websites Find My Past, Ancestry and The Genealogist.

You are welcome to bring your own laptop/tablet. There are power points at each desk and free Wi-Fi throughout the building.

On Fridays, only visitors who have pre-booked to use original documents can use the searchroom computers. However, you can access the Find my Past website free of charge at computers in Norfolk Libraries.

Obtaining copies

You can take photographs of documents for your own personal, non-commercial research. This is subject to any copyright or other restrictions. You will need to buy a photography permit from our reception. Before taking any pictures, please check with staff, who will ask you to complete a copyright form.

Visitors can make their own print-out copies from microfilm by purchasing a card for our self-service reader-printer.

For more details, see our fees and charges page.

We also offer an online reprographics service.

If you wish to publish images of documents (including online) please contact us first, and look at our guide on using and citing our documents.

We can provide copies of most unpublished sound archive recordings in our custody for the purpose of non-commercial research, study and private enjoyment. If you wish to use the recordings for any other purpose, contact us for advice. If you want a copy of published or broadcast sound archive recordings in our care, again please contact us. In most instances, we can only supply part of the recording. In a few cases, the NRO can provide copies for uses other than non-commercial, private research. If so, details of any licence agreements are given in our catalogue, under 'Conditions governing reproduction'.