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Information about access to service records of members of the  of Royal Navy, Women's Royal Naval Service, and the Royal Marines


The most frequently asked questions  which we receive are in relation to accessing service records, this page is aimed at providing a summary of the facilities, procedures and regulations concerning access to them.


Who holds which records?

For more information  from the UK National Archive on searching for the military records of members of the Royal Navy visit their page Some important information which contains a wide range of advice and directions on where to look. Also includes how to search for PoW records from WW1 & WW2.  Visit the MoD web site for information about requests for other personal data and service record requests


1: Records pre - 1924: These records are held at the UK National Archive


The UK National Archive (formerly the Public Record Office)  holds the following records which  are available for online access:

  • Royal Navy & Royal Marine commissioned & Warrant officers' service records 1756-1931 Search
  • Royal Navy Ratings who enlisted prior to 1924 Search
  • Royal Marines' service records (1842-1926) Search
  • Royal Naval Reserve service records 1860-1908 Search
  • Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve service records 1903-1922 Search
  • Royal Naval Air Service Officers Search
  • Royal Naval Air Service  Ratings Search
  • Women's Royal Naval service records 1917-1919 Search
  • Royal Naval Division service records 1914-1919 Search


These records are freely available for public access; however the National Archives does not have the manpower to perform searches. Enquirers are instead welcome to visit the archive and perform their own search, or hire an independent researcher - see the National Archive website for further details.



2: Records of Merchant seamen serving in the Royal Navy under T124X and T124T contracts


The National Archive (formerly the Public Record Office)  holds the following records which  are available for public access:


The reference BT 390 includes the T124X records detail the sea service of merchant seamen who served on Royal Navy ships. The T124T records detail the sea service of merchant seamen who served on tugs. Information is contained in pouches and includes personal details such as name, age, rank, rating/grade and qualifications, together with details of the vessels on which the individual served. The pouches are presented in alphabetical order by the seaman's last name.



CLICK HERE  to open the National Archive catalogue  search page:

HOW TO SEARCH THIS REFERENCE - enter BT390 in the 'Department or Series code' box and the name of the seaman you are looking for in the 'Word or phrase' box then press the search button to generate a list of matching records.



3: Records of deceased non-commissioned personnel post - 1923



All enquiries should be addressed to:


The Directorate of Personnel Support (Navy)
Navy Search
TNT Archive Services
Tetron Point
William Nadin Way
DE11 0BB.

Tel: 01283 227 910/911/912/913
Fax: 01283 227 942



To download the necessary form to make a request for the service details of a deceased ex-serviceman/woman CLICK HERE  Submit the completed form to the above address.


NOTE: You must enclose also:
a. The written authority of the Next of Kin, if not yourself.
b. Evidence of the ex-serviceman’s/ woman’s death (e.g. a photocopy of the Death Certificate) if he/she died after discharge from the Service.
c. Evidence of the link with you, if appropriate i.e. marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc
d. If you are NOT the surviving spouse of the deceased, the MOD  levies a charge  for the service (see the charge information on the form)


For more information see Service records of deceased Service personnel on the MoD web site



4: Records of seamen who entered the Navy after 1924 that are still living



All enquiries should be addressed to:


Data Protection Cell (Navy)
Building 1/152
HM Naval Base Portsmouth
Victory View


For more information see Obtaining information about yourself (Subject Access Requests) on the MoD web site


5: Royal Marine Officers and other ranks after 1925



All enquiries should be addressed to:


Building 1/152
Victory View
HM Naval Base Portsmouth
Victory View






6: Royal Navy Officers post 1931



A. Commissioned officers who entered the service between 1916 and 1950, inclusive, who are either deceased or aged 61, or over:

The Navy Records Centre,
Ministry of Defence,
CS(RM)2 Navy Search,
Bourne Avenue,
Middlesex, UB3 1RF.
Telephone: 0208-573 3831
FAX: 0208-569 2751.


B. Commissioned officers who are currently serving, or who are retired and aged 60. or under:

The Naval Secretary,
Ministry of Defence,
Victory Building,
HM Naval Base,
Hampshire PO1 3LS.







NOTE: Prior to 1972 all RN personnel were given their service record when they discharged. After 1972 the RN retained pay details for pension purposes. Therefore the only information held on RN personnel who served prior to 1972 are their Service details (number, rank, name etc) and a list of dates and ships/shore bases.






Some frequently asked questions answered


 Q   Who can request information held on service records?

 A   Anyone. Provided they have a valid reason - there are many reasons for requesting someone’s service record. Some of the more common reasons for requests are:
Proof of service for joining military associations or ex-services organisations.
Proof of service to enable welfare assistance from ex-service organisations.
Proof of occupancy of Married Quarters to qualify for local council housing.
Researching family trees or history.
Information held on service medical records.
 Q. Will I have to pay?
  A  Only if your request is for genealogical/family tree reasons.
 Q  As a former member of the Armed Forces can I obtain my own service record?
 A  Yes.  Requests from former Service personnel for his/her personal data held by the Ministry of Defence are processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998; such requests are called Subject Access Requests (SAR).
Click here for a downloadable copy of a Subject Access Request form. After completion it should be submitted to the address on the form. You will need to provide some form of ID, (e.g. a copy of a passport or recent utilities bill) which should accompany your completed SAR form.
 Q  Can I request a complete copy of my service record?
 A   Yes, write to the relevant record office listed above.
 Q  As the widow/widower or legal next of kin of an ex-serviceman can I obtain information held on my spouses/parents/relatives service record?
 A  Yes, but you will need to provide proof of death and of kinship. Write to the relevant record office listed above.
 Q  If I am not the widow/widower or legal next of kin of an ex-service person can I still obtain information about the service record of an ex-service person?
 A   Only if you can obtain a letter of consent from either the person the record belongs to or, if that person is deceased from the widow/widower or legal next of kin. Write to the relevant record office listed above.




Information contained on this page is drawn from

Ministry of Defence

the Veteran's Agency

and The National Archives


Information last verified November 2013


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Copyright 2012