Transfer of Records to the National Archives


According to Section 11(2) of the National Archives and Records Service Act (Act No. 43 of 1996 as amended) (NARSSA Act), public records determined by the National Archivist as having archival value must be kept by the governmental body for twenty years from the date that the records came into being. These records are indicated by an A20 symbol on the disposal schedule. Governmental bodies must however keep all their records in safe custody until they receive disposal authority from the National Archivist. Only once written disposal authority has been obtained may the governmental body consider arranging for the transfer of their archival records to an archives repository.

As the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) is not yet equipped to take electronic records into custody, the National Archivist may recommend that electronic records remain in the custody of a governmental body. The National Archivist may also instruct a governmental body to transfer its electronic records into archival custody in an archival acceptable medium such as paper or microfilm.

If another Act of Parliament determines that records should remain in the custody of a specific governmental body or person, the governmental body may not transfer its records to an archives repository except if the National Archivist has authorised the transfer of the records. The National Archivist may nevertheless require that records in the custody of specific functionaries be managed as described in this manual.

The National Archivist may also in consultation with a governmental body, identify archival and/or essential records that should remain in the custody of the governmental body. This will be done mainly in cases where the records are of such a specialised nature that the NARSSA’s staff are not qualified to make them accessible to researchers, or they have such high functional value for the body that transfer into archival custody will hamper the body’s service delivery.

Transfer to archives repositories

The head of the governmental body must submit a written request to the head of the archives repository to initiate a transfer of records or complete the Electronic Transfer List depicted below. Once approval has been given for the transfer, records must be packed as described according to prescripts in Annexure 16 of the Records Management Policy Manual and dispatched at the body’s expense to the archives repository. A copy of the transfer list (Annexure 17 of the Records Management Policy Manual) must accompany the transfer. Another duplicate copy of the list must be submitted together with a transfer letter to the head of the repository. The records should be arranged and packed in the same sequence as described on the transfer list. Any relevant registers or indexes should accompany these records. The head of a repository may refuse to accept records into custody if they are not packed as prescribed. Such records may be referred back to the body to correct the errors.

Records may only be sent to the repositories designated by the NARSSA (Contact paticulars: National and Provincial Archives Services). Audio-visual records must be transferred to the National Film, Video and Sound Archives as this archives repository is specifically equipped to care for these records. Arrangements for transfers must be made with the Head of the Film, Video and Sound Archives before any transfers take place. An agreement may be made between the National Archivist and a governmental body to arrange for a systematic transfer of records to the National Archives Repository, in which case the governmental body will transfer records annually in the period agreed upon.