Appraisal and transfer of records from public authorities

In accordance with the Danish Archives Act, The Danish National Archives represented by the National Archivist are authorised to specify rules and regulations relating to the management of the records of Danish Public Authorities.

The framework

Since 1997, the efforts of The Danish National Archives in terms of appraisal have been governed by special agreements with the Ministry of Culture.

The aim is to ensure that paper records deemed worthy of storage are submitted before they are 30 years old so that they can be made available to the public. Data from IT systems deemed worthy of storage are submitted as archive versions (copy of data in a special format) approximately once every five years.

The specific timetables for the start and end times of the submission work were established in a Circular Letter for each ministerial area. The timetables were drafted by The Danish National Archives following hearings with the ministries.

Contact with public authorities

All appraisal activities are based on the “Principle of Provenance”. This means, among other things, that archival material is transferred according to the order, and with the classification, of the originating authority. In connection with appraisal, this classification – including the finding aids created and used by that authority – should be described. Information relating to the offices of origin will, over time, be attached to the individual series of records.

The information on the archival material will be entered into Daisy (Danish Archive Information System), the Central Database of The Danish National Archives which contains systematic descriptions of records, offices of origin, shelving location and other types of information relating to the particular records.

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  • Paper records

    When The Danish National Archives authorise the disposal of certain archival materials that are no longer required for legal or administrative purposes, it is the responsibility of the authority to ensure that such materials are disposed of in a safe manner. If it is decided that material should be preserved, the authority must safeguard the records until they can be transferred to The Danish National Archives.

    The public authority will normally transfer its material to whichever unit is their usual contact within The Danish National Archives. As a general rule, local state authorities, city or district councils and county councils transfer material to The Danish National Archives in Odense, Viborg and Aabenraa, while National State Authorities will transfer their material to the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen.

    Paper records from state authorities will typically be transferred when the records are approximately 20 years old. This is done to ensure that the records may be made available at the Reading Rooms of The Danish National Archives before they reach the age of 30 years, as determined by the Archives Act. In special cases, however, the National Archivist may allow authorities to postpone transfer of paper records until a later time.

    Each individual authority conducts the necessary preparation of the records to be transferred. For paper records this would typically involve organizing, screening, cleaning, bundling, labelling and listing the material according to the rules and regulations of The Danish National Archives.

  • Electronic records

    State authorities are obliged to notify The Danish National Archives of their electronic filing systems before they are implemented. The The Danish National Archives will then evaluate whether the system should be preserved and, if so, determine a date on which the data in the system is to be transferred for the first time. This will normally take place after a period of approximately 5 years. Electronic file management systems (journals) and electronic file and document management systems to be preserved must, furthermore, be reviewed for approval. For this purpose the The Danish National Archives will determine whether the system meets the requirements prescribed by the The Danish National Archives to public authorities regarding management of their records. The review focuses on both organisational and technical aspects of the system, and will also check whether a system-independent filing version may be created for The Danish National Archives

    The requirement for notification of electronic filing systems means that, in principle, the The Danish National Archives have information on all electronic filing systems used in the Danish Central Administration. The National Archives are basically in charge of all tasks relating to electronic filing systems. However, decisions relating to preservation or disposal may in some cases be made in cooperation with the provincial archives.


    State authorities are bound by the following legislation on the reporting and approval of electronic archive systems.

    Circular on notification and approval of IT systems

    All public authorities must comply with the national standard for submission of data from it-systems that are to be preserved.

     Executive Order No 128 of 12 February 2020 on Submission Information Packages