Records Managers

NARA Transfer Guidance

This website contains guidance on the file formats that may be used by agencies when they transfer permanent electronic records to NARA. This guidance supports the requirements in Item A1, Section A, Part II, of OMB Memorandum M-12-18 Managing Government Records to make available revised guidance for transferring permanent electronic records.

NARA Bulletin 2014-04: Revised Format Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records

This NARA Bulletin 2014-04 specifies which file formats are acceptable when transferring permanent electronic records to NARA. This Bulletin contains the authorization, scope and general requirements for file formats acceptable when transferring permanent electronic records. This Bulletin contains an appendix of tables that specify the file formats that NARA will accept. This Bulletin replaces all previous guidance identifying file formats that may be used when transferring permanent electronic records to NARA.

Transfer Guidance Format Tables

The transfer guidance format tables are organized by categories of electronic records. For each category there are tables identifying preferred, acceptable, and in some cases, acceptable for imminent transfer formats. Each format is identified by name, and the relevant specification that defines appropriate encoding methods. Many file formats, especially those used with digital audio and video, are composed of multiple parts including a wrapper, which is the file format, and an embedded encoding stream or codec. In these cases the format category table will include a column that specifies the codec or codecs that may be used with each format. Agencies must submit electronic records in files that are valid according to both the wrapper and any specified codec standards.

Superseded Guidance

The list below contains copies of superseded transfer guidance that NARA has issued in the past.  The superseded transfer guidance provided here is for reference purposes only.

Contact Information

For further information about NARA’s transfer guidance, please contact the Electronic Records Format Team at

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