At the National Archives of Hungary everyone can do research free of charge regardless of nationality, occupation, age or religious belief. This right can be exercised only with respect to public and personal interests of others. The archives has to do its best to guarantee the long-term preservation of archival materials and by law it also has to ensure a protection for personal data. In order to fulfil this duty certain records or record groups that are especially valuable, often requested or in bad condition cannot be examined in their original form, only in copy. Because of data protection research of the records can be restricted. Access to these records are subject to conditions by rules of law. Conditions of research are regulated by the Archives Act.
Before starting your research it is practical to find out whether material is available on your topic. Information under the menu items FAQ, Family Research as well as Description of Holdings and the staff of the Information Office can help in your initial orientation. Future researchers have to register at the Information Office or in one of the research rooms of Hess András Square or Lángliliom Street. You can find the address, E-mail address, telephone and Fax number of each building under the Contact us menu item. Before you set off, it is advisable to consult our map and route planner. We accept registration in one of the above mentioned three places only in person. You must present a current identification containing your photograph - an identity card or passport and an address card - for a successful registration. During registration you should also describe your proposed research topic. It is advisable to describe your topic as closely as possible even if you are interested in many areas that are more or less connected. The staff will gladly provide you with a general introduction and specific suggestions during your research. Knowing your research topic makes it easier for reference archivists to give you help whenever it is needed for example in locating the material you need. Researchers can determine more than one research topic. Upon registration the most important elements of specific research room rules will be given to you and by signing the research application form you accept these rules: you are bound to preserve the archival material in its original form and to handle and use personal data according to the regulations of the Data Protection Act.
Registered researchers get a visitor's card that entitles them to enter all the three buildings of the archives in the given year. The validity of the visitor's cards has to be renewed each year. Lost or destroyed visitor's cards can be replaced once free of charge.
Contact us by any kind of written format on one of our contacts. Please take your order 5-8 days before your arrival and give exact reference codes. If you have questions about your research, contact our Information Office for general information. For quantitative rules, see above.
If you can not take over the requested documents at the originally designated time , please let us know because according to our rules within a specified period (currently 14 days) we will take back the files to our records.
When you ask for parish register microfilm preparation in our building no.3 you should inquire in advance by phone/email. It is recommended because this is one of our most researched collections, it might happen that other researchers use the needed rolls.
You can order documents personally in our reading rooms. Please remember that one day up to four order forms can be given in.
Please give exact reference codes on the order forms! If you do not know the exact codes, stock registers, repertories, electronic aids and databases are available on the reading rooms. If necessary, the research room supervisor would be happy to provide assistance in filling out the order form and the use of aids.
You can order on one order form not more than:
- 1 full document bundle /box
- 5 items (not more than 1 bundle of documents)
- 10 pieces of files (not more than 1 bundle of documents)
- 10 medieval charter photos
- 5 books
- 5 maps/plans
- 5 pieces of original medieval charters (permission needed)
- 5 microfilm rolls
Preparation time generally takes 3 days. You can study photos, maps, plans, index books and parish registers on microfilm at the next day of order. Ordering microfilm copies of the National Archives of Hungary's collection to the Becsi kapu ter bulilding takes 5 workdays.
You can take over the ordered documents at the reading rooms, signature and date of receipt needed on the order forms. You are allowed to study one document at the same time, but we are ready to reserve it for later. Please keep the documents in the order in which you received them and handle them with care.
Research can be conducted only with a valid visitor's card that should be presented to the officers at the entrance each time when you enter the building. It is forbidden to take bags or any items that can endanger the archival material - e.g. food or drink - into the research room. These items should be kept in lockable cabinets in the cloakroom. For carrying and storing paper, writing utensils, magnifiers, portable PCs, digital cameras and other personal valuables (e.g. a purse, glasses) please use the transparent bags found in the cloakroom cabinets.
Smoking is permitted only in the designated areas. Using cell phones, tape recorders, typewriters or any other devices that can disturb research with sounds is not allowed in the research rooms. The arrangement and the condition of the documents given to the researchers according to the archival rules should be kept. Only pencils may be used when taking notes. In case the attendant of the research room percieves wilful negligence or damage, after cautioning the researcher he/she can initiate the withdrawal of the visitor's card. The General Director will decide on the matter.
When starting the research - and if necessary any time during research - researchers can ask for help from the attendants or reference archivists on their related research topics or how to use archival finding aids. They also provide you with information about access restrictions. The General Rules of the Research Rooms at the National Archives of Hungary contain the regulations related to research in detail.
There are archival holdings- such as medieval charter collection - that have special values or by any other reasons are not available for researchers in their original form. In these cases the National Archives of Hungary shall ensure access to the documents in other alternative formats. If you have any particular reason acknowledgment to study these documents you have the possibility to make an official request. Please ask for request form in the reading rooms.
The great majority of records held by the National Archives of Hungary can be accessed without restrictions. Nevertheless there can be records or record groups in any of the archival record groups that cannot be examined in their original forms either because of their rarity or because of their physical conditions. By law these records have to be made accessible for researchers in a copy (microfilm, photo, xerox, digital image) at the expense of the archives. Attendants or archivists of the research rooms provide information about temporary access restrictions because of preservation reasons. In reasonable cases you may appeal such closures in writing to the Deputy General Director, who after hearing the reference staff and the Head of Department will decide on the matter. The examination of the restricted records for instance may become possible if the accessible research copy or the duplication is of poor quality.
The Data Protection Act lays down the restrictions related to the protection of personal rights and data. The archives is bound to these restrictions even if the research does not aim at restricted personal data. By law the so called special data referring to racial origins, national or ethnic status, partial affiliation, religious belief, health conditions, harmful addiction, sexual life and previous convictions are to be particularly protected for a period of time.
It is important to know that law makes a difference between scientific and non-scientific research. Research serving scientific purposes can be verified by a Declaration of Support (download form) issued by a Hungarian registered academic research institute (e.g. academic institutions, departments of a university or a collage, county archives, museums, libraries). The National Archives of Hungary can supply for researchers conducting scientific research any records containing personal data and copies of these records can also be obtained. Nevertheless researchers have to bear in mind that all sorts of responsibility - handling data, making personal data public, violating personal rights - of personal data protection falls on them.
Researchers who do not possess a Declaration of Support of a research institution, that is to say who are not considered scientific researchers, can have access records containing personal data only 30 years after the death of the individual involved. In case the individual's date of death is not known the record can be accessed 90 years after the individual's birth if it is not known either then 60 years after the creation of the document. Non-scientific researchers can also have access to these documents, providing the research can be conducted through anonymised documents (at the expenses of the researcher) or if the researcher obtained a Consent issued by the individual or his heir or after his death by other relatives.
Generally non-Hungarian researchers can conduct research at the archives with the same conditions as any other Hungarian citizen. In case a foreign researcher wishes to examine records containing personal data, he or she has to present a Declaration of Support of an academic institute competent in the research topic. Even in this case he or she can get the records without anonymisation only if the laws of his or her country protect personal rights in the same way and extent as in Hungary.
The third type of restrictions serves protection of state secrets. The archives is bound to keep to legal regulations related to the protection of state and official secrets. Leaders of government agencies decide whether the information in the newly created record is a state or an official secret or not (classification). Classified records are marked according to the Secrets Protection Act, at the same time the time validity of the classification is also determined. After transferring the records to the archives, only the classificator or its legal successor can authorize research of the classified records. Consequently researchers have to request for a Research Permission - directly or with the mediation of the archives - from the issuing agency itself or from its legal successor.
In order to secure the undisturbed and influence free functioning of the government agencies, law considers the so called decision preparing documents created after 2. May 1990 (after the first session of the freely elected parliament of the Hungarian Republic) to be nonpublic even if legal classification according to the regulations of the Secrets Protection Act was omitted. Accordingly, for 30 years after the creation these documents can be accessed only with the Reserach Permission of the issuing agency.