Plan a Visit


Because of the size and complexity of our collections, we strongly recommend that you do some work and planning before you arrive at the BC Archives. Your visit will be more productive and is more likely to be successful.

Think about what you are looking for; the more specific your research goal, the easier it will be for us to identify the records you need and to assist you. Do some background reading and explore the Collections section on our website.


Who Can Register

All persons arriving at the BC Archives to perform archival research must register before being admitted to the reference room. Registration can be done online or in person during reference room hours (Mon–Fri, 10:00 am–6:00 pm & Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm).

To register, persons must be at least 16 years old and must present photo identification at the time of registration. If registering online, please bring your photo identification with you on your first visit to validate your registration. Acceptable photo identification includes a driver’s licence, passport, status card, provincial ID card or valid university/college student card.

Individuals unable to provide acceptable photo identification, but who are accompanying a researcher who has acceptable photo identification, will receive a day pass. These individuals will be permitted entrance to the reference room for that day only to accompany another researcher but will not have permission to request original material or request the use of original material after full service hours.

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a registered parent or guardian who will be responsible for the child during the entire visit.

Researchers will be required to scan their researcher card at the Security Desk when arriving and leaving the reference room.

The BC Archives reserves the right to refuse to provide service to persons whose motives or intentions appear questionable. Instances of abuse of and damage to material will result in the withdrawal of access privileges. Abusive treatment of staff by patrons or inappropriate and disruptive behaviour may also result in the withdrawal of access privileges.

Register Online

Photo Identification for Canadian Residents

Researchers resident in Canada are required to provide acceptable photo identification. Examples include:

  • Provincial driver’s license;
  • BC or other provincial ID card;
  • Passport;
  • Status card;
  • Government ID with photograph;
  • Valid university/college student ID card with photograph.

Photo Identification for non-Canadian Residents

Researchers resident outside of Canada are required to provide acceptable photo identification. Examples include:

  • Driver’s license with photograph;
  • Passport;
  • Valid university/college student ID card with photograph.

Unaccepted Forms of Identification

The following cannot be used as a form of identification:

  • Business card;
  • Library card;
  • Telephone book;
  • Credit card.

Reference Room

When you visit the BC Archives, the Reference Room is where you will do your research. Here, you can search our online catalogues and indexes, consult our finding aids and older card catalogues, browse, make copies of digitized images, read and copy from microfilmed records and newspapers, and request original records and library material. Outlets are available for laptop computers.

Electronic surveillance cameras are used in BC Archives reference room.


For purposes of the security and preservation of our collections, please note and adhere to the following guidelines and procedures.

  • All researchers must be registered and signed in at Security. The current researcher card must be shown when signing in.
  • Leave coats, hats, briefcases, parcels, laptop cases, purses and fanny packs in the lobby. There is a coat rack and lockers are provided at no charge.
  • Personal books must be signed in at Security if taken into the Reference Room. Any items taken into the reading room will be inspected by the officer on duty when you leave.
  • Eating, chewing gum, and drinking are prohibited in the Reference Room, and there are no public smoking areas in the building.
  • Use only pencils to take notes. Do not use ink in any form in the Reference Room. You may also use laptop computers or cassette recorders.
  • Refrain from wearing fragrances or other scents. Some researchers and staff are highly sensitive to certain fragrances, and may be unable to use the Reference Room if they are present.
  • Books and archival records must be used in the designated research area of the Reference Room only.
  • Cameras are permitted but without the use of a flash. Printing and the purchase of USB sticks are unavailable during partial service hours. See Reproductions.
  • Keep conversations with fellow researchers to a minimum and speak quietly.


Requests for Retrievals

Requests for retrieval of books, manuscripts, government records, sound recordings and moving images are accepted from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. Retrieval of onsite material takes an average of 5–15 minutes, but special media (e.g., photographs and maps) can take 24 to 48 hours. Please call in advance if you plan to visit between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm.

For the security and protection of the records, researchers can view only four records at a time. Name, registration number and archives reference code or library call number must be printed clearly on a call slip to facilitate retrieval and pickup. Materials should be picked up promptly, particularly if access has been granted under special permission (e.g., a research agreement).

Access Restrictions

Some records may be unavailable because of access restrictions. See staff for instructions on how to determine the existence of restrictions and on how to request access to restricted records. If given permission to access restricted records, you must bring the letter of permission or Research Agreement with you every time you visit.

As many of our records are stored off site, and some have restricted access, it is a good idea to contact us well in advance to determine availability and, if possible, arrange access prior to your arrival. Records that are stored offsite may take from two to five days to retrieve. Arranging for authorized access to restricted records can take up to several weeks, depending on the circumstances.

Access to and use of government records at the BC Archives are subject to statutory restrictions, particularly those imposed by the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) (RSBC 1996, c. 165), the BC Adoption Act (RSBC 1996, c. 5) and the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act (SC 2002, c. 1). Access to court records is not governed by FOIPPA but can be restricted by BC court rules. If records are restricted, the Information and Privacy Manager must be contacted.

View Research Agreement

Locker Services

Researchers who wish to consult records during evenings and weekends may arrange to have up to six items placed in a locker. Lockers are assigned on a first come first serve basis. Some special media records and records of a fragile nature will not be made available. The Archives reserves the right to limit the amount or type of material. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine if the requested records are available on site and without access restrictions.

Records placed in a locker are available from Security during evenings and weekends and must be returned to Security when finished.

All items placed in a locker will be refiled the following day. If you wish to use these items during the next full service day please leave a note with the records.

A locker form, with call slips attached, must be completed by 3:00 p.m. on the day the locker is required. For Saturday service the form must be completed by 3:00 the previous day. All locker forms must be approved by a staff member, and a new locker form must be completed each day.

Locker requests, with call numbers, may be phoned in to 250-387-1952.