Access to personal data held by the MOD may be sought for many reasons, including:
- proof of Service in HM Armed Forces
- medical reasons
- family history or research
Requests from former Service personnel
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).
A SAR must be made in writing and must be accompanied by proof of identity (e.g. a copy of a passport or recent utilities bill), and sufficient information to locate the data sought. To assist the search, your letter should include as much information as possible eg:
- Service Number, Rank, Full Name, Date of Birth and period served (dates from and to).
- Requests for data for ex-Army personnel must also include the Regiment or Corps.
A full copy of the record can be requested however, original documents, discharge papers/books cannot be replaced. The MOD will also provide extracts from service records. Once all the necessary information has been received, your request will be processed and you should receive a reply within 40 calendar days.
To download the SAR form, please click here.
For service records of non-UK personnel please click here.
Requests from Interested parties
Enquirers must provide a letter of consent, signed by the person to whom the records relate.
Records of Deceased personnel
Enquirers must provide the consent of the Next of Kin and unless the person died in Service, proof of death. A charge may be made for enquiries. Prior to 1972 all Royal Navy personnel were given their service record when they were discharged. For pension purposes the Royal Navy retained pay details. Therefore the only data held on Royal Navy personnel who served prior to 1972 is their Service details (number, rank, name etc) and a list of dates and ships/shore bases.
Certificate of Kinship
Information from the personal record of a deceased Ex-serviceman/woman can be released only with the consent of the official Next of Kin. The form aims to identify whose consent is required and the data you provide will be used only in connection with your enquiry. The form is retained for 2 years should you have subsequent queries. To download the Certificate of Kinship form and Search Document for the Army please click on the Army link below. For the Royal Navy, please click here and for the Royal Air Force, please click here.
Where do I send my SAR form?
Personnel records are stored at archives and repositories throughout the UK. Additionally there are also Subject Access Request Co-ordinators for each Service. You must send the completed SAR form to the relevant address.
Click any of the links below to access the postal address you require.
- Royal Navy Officers commissioned prior to 1914
- Royal Navy Ratings who enlisted prior to 1924 and First World War records for the Women's Royal Naval Service
- Royal Marine Officers commissioned prior to 1926
- Royal Marine Other Ranks that enlisted prior to 1926
- Army Officers commissioned prior to 1920
- Army Other Ranks that enlisted prior to 1920
- Royal Air Force Officers that served prior to 1922
- Royal Air Force Airmen that served prior to 1924
Service records which pre-date those held by the MOD have been transferred to the National Archive and are freely available for public access. However the National Archives is not resourced to carry out searches.
Enquirers are instead welcome to visit, or hire an independent researcher - see the National Archive website for further details.
I am still unsure of what to do, who can help?
If you have any other queries about service records or are not sure about which office to write to please contact the Veterans Free Helpline
For information on historical records please see our links page.