Order a document or search
Find a document or information for me
If you're short of time or need help with your research, we can help.
We can answer simple enquiries about our collections which only require a quick check of the indexes or catalogue, for example, whether we hold parish records for St Albans. This is a free service.
Email us your enquiry
We can search original documents held in our collections to help you find the information you're looking for.
That includes family history and house history, or a detailed search of the catalogues. We also provide a transcription and translation service of documents.
To help us do the search, let us know your requirements, along with relevant information such as dates, names and places. Please prioritise your requirements and we will answer as many questions as possible in the time you have purchased.
Let us know about any sources you've already consulted too, so we can avoid duplication.
We'll provide you with a report within 10 working days.
Upon finishing your search, we'll let you know the documents we find and give you an opportunity to order a copy or come to the archives and view the documents.
If your request is urgent, we can fast track it for an additional fee. Expedited search and copy fees are £36 (in addition to the usual cost of copies or certified entries).
Order a copy of a document
If you’d like a copy of a document, you can buy it from us
All you need is:
- a document reference e.g. name of parish, newspaper title or document name
- a document date
- specific entry details such as names or places.
If you don't have these details, a search is required to check the item is suitable for copying, and to identify the costs. A search fee will apply.
If you would like your copy certified, please let us know in the enquiry form.
If your request is urgent, we can fast track it for an additional fee. Expedited search and copy fees are £36 (in addition to the usual cost of copies or certified entries). See our fees and charges for more information.
Certified copies and transcripts
A certified copy is a signed copy of the original entry in a document. Certified copies are usually requested for legal purposes. For parish register entries, we provide a transcript of an entry. For other records, we provide a copy.
If you require us to certify a document as a true and accurate copy of an original entry in a document in HALS collections you can request a certified copy or transcript of:
- parish register entries, including baptism, marriage and burials
- vehicle registration records
- certification of your own information, including magistrates court records, other institution records and subject access requests.
Certified copies can be ordered for £15.
Reuse an image from the archives
Contact us about reproduction rights if you want to publish a document we hold at the archives. That might be in your own publication, website, exhibition or TV programme.
Give us as much information as possible (including the document's reference number) so we can check if the items can be reproduced. This may take us some time so please do give us as much notice as possible.
We charge a fee for permission to reproduce items. See our fees and charges
The owner may also impose a reproduction fee or other condition of their own.
We usually only grant permission for a specific use. You'll need to contact us again if you want to use it elsewhere in the future.
Once permission is granted, you'll need to credit "Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS)" and include the reference number where the document is reproduced.
It might not always be possible to reproduce items if they're subject to copyright or if the owner has placed restrictions on their reproduction. Many documents in the collections are still in copyright, even if they're very old.
If the copyright owner is not known, it'll be your responsibility to trace them.
View a document at the archives
You can pre-order up to 3 documents during regular opening hours
You can ask to see more during your visit.
You can also pre-order documents we hold off-site on Tuesdays to Thursdays. Order by 11am or 2.30pm and they'll be ready to view within an hour. On Friday mornings, order by 10am.
Late opening 5.00pm till 7.30pm is available on the first Tuesday of the calendar month by appointment only. You must pre-book your appointment by 9.00am on the previous Friday. If you wish to view documents during this
evening opening, you must also pre-order them by 9.00am on the previous Friday.
On Tuesday evenings, you won't be able to ask for additional documents during the evening. If you'll need to pre-order more than 3 documents to use them during your evening visit, please tell us about your requirements when you book so that we can advise on document availability.
Tuesdays in 2017 available for pre-booked visits: 4 July; 1 August; 5 September; 3 October; 7 November; 5 December.
To view documents at the archives you will need a County Archives Research Network (CARN) ticket. To get one of these on the day of your visit you will need to bring a proof of address and signature, such as:
- Driving licence
- Recent utility bill.
Access restrictions – rules about the records you can see
Sometimes there are documents in the archives that you can't view. These are 'access restrictions'.
- Other people’s information may be restricted, if they're still alive.
- You can make a Subject Access Request to us if you want to access information about yourself.
- Medical and social care records are restricted for a longer period, even after a person’s death.
- If we say a document is restricted, you can still try making a Freedom of Information request for it. But please contact us first.
- For adoption records please contact us. We may refer you to the Adoption team.
- There are other reasons why some items may not be seen, for example, if they are too fragile.
Read more about access restrictions – Access to Records – Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.