Accessing restricted government records

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) controls archival records from other federal government departments. Some of these archival records are restricted by law. You may view restricted records as a departmental researcher after you get permission from the department that created the records. You must get permission from each department whose records you need to see.

Locating archival records

Consult Search help for tips on using our search tools. To find out if archival records are open or restricted, see Access codes for archival records. If you need help finding material or access codes, ask us a question.

Types of access to restricted records

  • Blanket access allows a researcher to access all records created by a department that fall within the range of their security clearance
  • Specific access allows the researcher to access a specified list of files or containers

Applying to conduct departmental research

  • Get a LAC user card or update your user card with your current work contact information
  • Have a valid security clearance that matches the classification of the records
  • Ask the department that created the records to send written permission to LAC using one of these letters:

After you apply

LAC will review your request and will contact you if any information is missing. LAC needs up to 20 working days to consider requests.

Approval of your request

LAC will send you an email when your request is approved. You cannot order or copy material unless your request is approved. The approval email will tell you how to view the records at our buildings.

Copying records

You may make or request copies of records using LAC's copy services if the department gave you permission.

Using information from restricted records

Restricted records provided to departmental researchers remain closed to the public. Researchers must handle information in the same way as other restricted documents in the Government of Canada.

Researchers must follow the Policy on Government Security by protecting the information according to its security classification and by having the appropriate security controls in place. Restricted archival records are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, which govern the disclosure of government-controlled information.

Contact your organization’s information officer, security office or Access to Information and Privacy coordinator about the appropriate and approved use of the results of your research.