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Saturday 20 September 2014

Search rooms

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has three buildings in central Edinburgh, General Register House, New Register House and West Register House. Currently all original records will be consulted at General Register House, except maps and plans in some cases. The Historical Search Room and the Legal Search Room are in General Register House. Both search rooms have the same opening hours and are closed on some public holidays.

For access to maps and plans see our maps and plans guidance page.
The Historical Search Room at the National Archives of Scotland  

Before you visit

We suggest readers contact us in advance of any visit so we can advise on availability of records.

If you have never visited the Historical and Leagl search rooms before please consult our preparing to visit section and how to find us. The NRS provides disabled access at General Register House, where there are wheelchair lifts.

Please note that if you hope to be accompanied by a child under the age of 16 years you must contact us in advance.

Please be aware that increasing numbers of NRS records are being made available digitally in the search rooms. You can ascertain whether the record you would like to see has been digitised through the NRS Catalogue. If you feel that your research would benefit from viewing the original, please make application as far in advance as possible, using the form below.

Application Form for Access to Original Records– Acrobat PDF 28KB, new window

Application Form for Access to Original Records – Rich Text Format 592KB, new window

Completed applications forms can be returned by post or email

The National Records of Scotland
Historical Search Room
HM General Register House
2 Princes Street

Opening hours
The NRS search rooms are open Monday to Friday 09:00-16:30.
The latest time for ordering records is 15:45.
The latest time for ordering copies of records is 15:45.

No appointment is necessary except to consult adoption records. We do not operate an advance seat booking facility and seats are filled on a first come, first served basis. Note that some material is outstored and requires 24 hours' notice by telephone (0131 535 1334) or two working days' notice by e-mail ( for production in the search room. Please contact us in advance if you need any special advice.

Public holidays
The Historical and Legal search rooms as well as the ScotlandsPeople Centre will be closed:
  • Good Friday Friday 18 April 2014
  • Easter Monday Monday 21 April 2014
  • May Day holiday Monday 5 May 2014
  • Autumn holiday Monday 15 Sept 2014
  • Christmas Day Thursday 25 December 2014
  • Boxing Day Friday 26 December 2014
  • New Year holiday Thursday 1 January 2015
  • New Year holiday Friday 2 January 2015

Which search room should I go to?

We suggest readers contact us in advance of any visit so we can advise on availability of records.

General Register House (GRH) can be found at the east end of Princes Street in Edinburgh's city centre. The Historical Search Room and the Legal Search Room are housed there. The Historical Search Room is used for researching family, local, national and international history. The Legal Search Room is used for certain types of legal and commercial research, primarily using the public registers and adoption records (for more details see the Legal Search Room page).

How to find us
See the How to find us page for maps showing the locations of our buildings.

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Page last updated: 31 December 2013

The National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: