What does it mean to "transfer" records?

Transferring records refers to physically and legally moving custody of inactive, permanent records to the National Archives, a facility operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

What are "permanent" records?

Permanent records are those deemed by the Archivist of the United States to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant their continued preservation by the U.S. Government.

Why do permanent records go to the National Archives?

NARA is responsible for safeguarding Government records. It requires that permanent records be transferred to the National Archives because the facility is equipped with the staff, equipment and technology needed to permanently and securely preserve and exhibit Government records.

When do records get transferred to the National Archives?

NARA requires that permanent records go to the National Archives when they are at least 30 years old or when the Agency determines that they are no longer needed for business purposes. Many nonelectronic records are transferred after 20 years. Special media records (e.g., audiovisual, electronic) may be transferred sooner due to their special preservation needs. FAA's records schedules provide the disposition instructions for transferring records.

Can I retrieve transferred records?

No. Once records are transferred to the National Archives, they belong to NARA, not to FAA. You may use the records in a National Archives reading room, but you may not remove them. However, under extreme circumstances and with the approval of the Agency Records Officer (ARO), you may obtain reproductions of records transferred to the National Archives. Check with your area National Archives facility concerning fees and procedures for obtaining reproductions.

I recently retired records to a Federal Records Center (FRC); does that mean I transferred them?

No. Records are retired to a FRC for low-cost, temporary storage until they are eligible for final disposition (i.e., destruction or transfer). Unlike records transferred to the National Archives, FAA retains custody of records retired to a FRC and can retrieve them at any time. You may be confused because NARA uses the term "transferred" when referring to records retired to a FRC and for records transferred to the National Archives. FAA prefers to distinguish between the two by referring to records sent to a FRC as being "retired" and referring to records sent to the National Archives as being "transferred" to emphasize that custody of the records is being transferred to the National Archives. See Frequent Questions about Retiring Records for more information about retiring your records.

How do I transfer records?

Prepare a detailed list of the records being transferred. Complete a Standard Form (SF) 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States. Submit the completed SF 258 and the records list to NARA for approval. NARA will contact the Agency when the transfer is approved and records can be sent to the National Archives. Regulations and guidance for transferring all types records can be found in NARA's 36 CFR Part 1235.

Approval for the transfer of electronic records requires that a Preparing Electronic Records for Transfer to the National Archives." NARA also provides instructions for transferring:

Always keep a copy of electronic records until NARA sends notification that the transfer was successful.

What do I do about records stored at the FRC?

The FRC will initiate the transfer of records to the National Archives at the end of their retention period. The FRC will contact the Agency 90 days before records are due to be transferred. You must respond to the FRC within 20 working days indicating concurrence with the transfer. However, if records are involved with a pending action (e.g., audit, litigation, FOIA request), you can request a delay.

The records in my custody are not releasable under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); do I still transfer them?

Yes. Records with statutory restrictions on access will remain restricted until they are 30 years old. If they need to remain restricted longer, this can be noted on the SF 258.

Where can I go for additional guidance?

Contact your Program Office, Region, or Center Records Officer.