Accessibility time limits on records

Records with confidential information are protected by a time limit for accessibility. Read about what information is protected and see the list of time limits for the most commonly used types of records.

Information about purely private matters – time limit of 75 years

Records with information about purely private matters are protected by a 75-year accessibility period, regardless of the context in which the information appears. The rule exists for the protection of privacy.
Information about purely private matters includes matters to do with:

  • finances
  • race
  • religion
  • politics and associations
  • criminal offences
  • health
  • sexuality
  • social conditions

Individually laid down time limits

In some cases, the usual 20-year period may be extended for reasons other than privacy. This applies to information where particular consideration must be shown – for example:

  • State security and the defence of the realm. The usual time limit is 60 years.
  • The foreign policy or foreign economic interests of the realm. There is a time limit of 40 years and over.
  • Cases relating to the royal family, e.g. in the archives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or Defence. There is a time limit of 100 years
  • Layout of buildings (building plans) currently used by courts, police and prosecution services. There is a time limit of 250 years.

The archive creator can extend the deadline for up to 60 years. Further deadlines are agreed with the Minister for Culture.

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  • Civil marriages

    Civil marriage registers and registers of scrutiny of the legality of marriage (prøvelsesbøger) are covered by a 50-year accessibility period.

  • Fire insurance archives

    Fire insurance archives are freely available.

  • Children’s homes and other social institutions

    Personal particulars, client cases, patient records etc. contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

  • Examination results

    Information about unfinished and completed exams is information about purely private matters and is subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    A copy of class lists for anniversary events or the like can be made for a fee. The printout contains name and date of birth, but you cannot get information about other students’ exam results.

    The information is typically found in municipal archives, in the educational institutions’ own archives and in the Ministry of Education’s archives.

  • Digitally created records

    Accessibility time limits for digitally created records are laid down in Section 6 of the Archives Act. There are no differences with respect to time limits concerning digitally created and paper records.

    In general, the records must be 20 years old before they are available. If the records contain information about private matters concerning individuals, the time limit is 75 years.

    Digitally created records younger than 20 years are in general not available. The Keeper of the Public Records can grants an exemption to use the records with the consent of the authority that has delivered them.

    If digitally created records contain information about purely private matters concerning individuals, the Keeper of the Public Records must obtain permission to grant an exemption from the Danish Data Protection Agency or the agency administering the Courts of Denmark until the 75-year time limit has expired.

    The total processing time may be 60 days if consent is required. If the processing period is longer, the applicant will be informed, cf. the Archives Act Sections 36-38.

  • Cases concerning family law

    Family-law related cases contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    Examples of family-law related cases are cases concerning:

    • Adoptions
    • Paternity
    • Separation and divorce
    • Custody of children
    • Visitation rights

    Family-related cases are typically found in county archives, state archives, and in the archives of the probate court and the Ministry of Justice.

  • National registers

    National registers contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

  • Censuses

    Censuses contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    If the purpose is genealogy, you can obtain special permission to see the censuses from 1940 to 1970. You can apply for permission at the Danish National Archives’ reading room and your application will be processed immediately.

    If you wish to apply for permission to use the censuses of 1940-1970 for other purposes, you must submit a written application. You will receive a written response within 15 days of receipt of the application.

  • Ministry of Defence archives

    Parts of the Ministry of Defence archives are subject to individual stipulations of accessibility, typically 60-year deadlines.

    The specific deadlines are set to protect the state’s security or the defence of the realm.

  • Subsidiary registers of births (fødselsbiregistre)

    See Registers of persons, Southern Jutland

  • Time of birth

    Midwife protocols contain information about purely private matters. They are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

  • Estate archives

    Estate archives are private archives and the landed proprietor determines the rules for accessibility. This means that there are individually laid down time limits for each archive.

    As a rule, large parts of the estate archives are freely available. More recent parts of these archives and selected parts may be subject to specific time limits.

  • Naturalization cases

    Records concerning naturalization (citizenship cases) contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

     

  • Parish registers

    To a large extent, parish registers are generally available at the online archives Arkivalieronline. The following applies to the remainder:

    Parish registers after 1925 may contain civil registration numbers and are subject to an accessibility time limit of 100 years.

    Parish registers that are more than 50 years old can be used with special permission. You can apply for this permission at the reading room and your application will be processed immediately.

    You can also apply for permission to use parish registers that are less than 50 years old. The application must be in writing on an application form or in a letter. You will receive a written response within 15 days of receipt of the application.

  • The royal archives

    The royal archives are private. The ruling king or queen lays down the rules for access to the royal family’s archives.

    The following rules apply:

    • Christian VII and older monarchs: freely available
    • Frederik VI, Christian VIII and Frederik VII: You must apply for permission by written application to the Danish National Archives.
    • Christian IX, Frederik VIII and Christian X: You must apply in writing to the Danish National Archives, which will forward the application to the Cabinet Secretary at Amalienborg.
  • Conscription rolls (lægdruller)

    Conscription rolls contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    Please note that conscription rolls where the archive creators are the conscription areas contain information for up to 15 years after the date of the conscription rolls. The 75-year time limit for accessibility applies from the end date of the conscription rolls

  • Motor Vehicle Registration

    Registers for tax-paid and tax-free motor vehicles must be 20 years old before they are available. This means that all registers delivered to the Danish National Archives can be freely used in the Archives’ reading room.

  • Copyright to private archives

    See under private archives.

  • Personnel records

    Personnel records contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    The records are found in all types of archives.

  • Registers of persons, Southern Jutland

    Marriage registers are freely available until 1925, when registration ceased. They are available at the online archives Arkivalieronline.

    Death records are freely available until 1977.

    Subsidiary registers of deaths (dødsbiregistre) more recent than 1977 have not been delivered. They are available on the online archives Arkivalieronline until 1960.

    Subsidiary registers of births (fødselsbiregistre) are freely available when they are 75 years old. However, they are freely available at the online archives Arkivalieronline until 1960, although pages with especially sensitive information are not displayed.

  • Private archives

    The Archives Act does not apply to private archives, as it is the person who delivers a private archive in to the National Archives who determines the accessibility rules.

    The relevant time limits in the Archives Act are often chosen for information about purely private matters. This means that the deadline is 75 years. For private archives delivered before 2003, the deadline is usually 80 years.

    In other cases, the archive creators (or their descendants) authorize the archive. In such cases, you must yourself obtain the permission.
    The individually established time limits can be found in the archive database, Daisy (at present only valid for RA).

    You should also be aware that copyright law may cover private archives (and records in the manuscript collection). Copyright is of importance, for example if you wish to publish and reproduce private individuals’ archives that have been delivered to the National Archives.

    Records in private archives protected by copyright may not be copied, and any photographs may not be transmitted without the permission of the copyright holder.

    Copyright protects the exclusive right of a copyright holder (e.g. author or letter writer) or their heirs. Copyright protection applies for 70 years after the copyright holder’s death.

  • Litigation - Civil cases

    Litigation containing information about purely private matters is subject to a 75-year accessibility period. The information is available in the archives of the police and the courts.

  • Litigation - Criminal proceedings

    Cases relating to criminal justice that contain information about purely private matters are subject to a 75-year accessibility period. Other criminal cases are available after 20 years.

    Cases concerning criminal justice include records concerning:

    • investigation
    • indictment
    • conviction
    • enforcement of punishment
    • pardon

    Information of such nature can be found in the archives of the police, in the prosecutor’s office and in the courts, as well as in the archives of the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice.

    You can apply for an exemption from the accessibility time limit. Cases relating to criminal justice younger than 50 years must be submitted to the delivery authority. This rule applies when the information is included in the archives of the police, in the archives of the prosecutor’s office and the courts and in the archives of the Prison Service and Justice Department.

    The authority must reply no later than one month after it has received the application.

  • Probate records, probate cases and wills

    Probate records, probate cases and wills contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    Probate cases and wills between 50 and 75 years’ old can be used following special permission. This permission can be sought by visiting the reading room. The application will be processed immediately.

    You can also apply for permission to use probate records less than 50 years old. The application must be in writing on an application form or in a letter. You will receive a written response within 15 days of receipt of the application.

  • Search agents

    Search agents contain the references that makes it possible to identify and find a case in an archive. The issuing authority itself generally prepares them.
    Examples of search agents:

    Name registers and card indexes

    • Subject registers and indexes
    • File plans
    • Records
    • Case lists

    The accessibility time limit depends on the information present in the search agent. The time limit is determined on the basis of an individual assessment.

    Search agents without information about purely private matters: 20 years.

    Search agents with information about purely private relationships: 75 years.

    Search items with other confidential information: individual time limits.

    You can access search agents to identify the records you wish to see by completing a form in the reading room. You will receive permission immediately.

  • Wills

    Wills are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.

    Wills between 50 and 75 years old can be used when special permission has been granted. This permission can be sought by visiting the reading room. The application will be processed immediately.

    You can also apply for permission to use wills less than 50 years old. The application must be in writing on an application form or in a letter. You will receive a written response within 15 days of receipt of the application.

  • Registered documents, deed and mortgage records

    Registered documents, deed and mortgage records are freely available.

  • Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Parts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s archives are subject to individual time limits.

    The specific deadlines are laid down to protect the foreign policy or foreign economic interests of the realm, including relations with foreign powers or international organizations.

    A special catalogue of the cases with an extended time limit can be found at the Danish National Archives Copenhagen Reading Room.

  • Cases involving aliens

    Cases concerning residence in Denmark – called cases involving aliens, or simply “utl. cases” – found in the Oversight of Immigration Archives (now Immigration Service Archives) contain information about purely private matters and are subject to a 75-year accessibility period.