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.
This NARA Bulletin 2015-04 defines the minimum set of metadata elements that must accompany transfers of permanent electronic records to the National Archives. Per 36 CFR 1235.48, Federal agencies are required to transfer documentation adequate for NARA to identify, service, and interpret permanent electronic records for as long as they are needed. This guidance applies to all permanent electronic records and is a companion to NARA Bulletin 2014-04: Revised Format Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records. This Bulletin has two appendices:
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.
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.
The list below contains copies of superseded transfer guidance that NARA has issued in the past. The superseded transfer guidance provided here is for reference purposes only.
- Transfer of Permanent E-records to NARA, 2005
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Existing E-mail Messages with Attachments, September 30, 2002
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Existing Permanent Electronic Records Scanned Images of Textual Records, December 23, 2002
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Permanent Electronic Records: Records in Portable Document Format (PDF), March 31, 2003
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Permanent Electronic Records: Digital Photographic Records, November 12, 2003
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Permanent Electronic Records Digital Geospatial Data Records, April 9, 2004
- Expanding Acceptable Transfer Requirements: Transfer Instructions for Permanent Electronic Records: Web Content Records, September 17, 2004
For further information about NARA’s transfer guidance, please contact the Electronic Records Format Team at email@example.com.