Access restriction periods for documents and data

Access restriction periods for documents and data

Some archives are protected by a special access restriction period. Find out more about which information is protected and the deadlines for the most commonly used types of archival records.

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Information about purely private matters – time limit of 75 years

Records that have been submitted to the National Archives are generally made available 20 years after their creation.

For some records, however, longer access restriction periods apply. The rules of availability are set out in the Danish Archives Act and intended to safeguard private and other confidential information.

The Danish Archives Act can be found at Retsinformation.dk

Please note that special accessibility restriction rules may be applied to private archives that have been submitted to the Danish National Archives. You can read more about private archives in the section “Access restriction periods for certain records” below.

Apply for permission to view records

You can apply for permission to view records with access restriction periods.

Apply for permission to view records

Information about individuals’ private affairs – access restricted for 75 years

Cases containing information about individuals’ private affairs are protected by an access restriction period of 75 years regardless of the context in which the information appears. This rule exists to protect individuals’ right to privacy.

Private affairs include, among other things:

  • Financial matters
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Political and associational matters
  • Criminal matters
  • Health-related matters
  • Sexual matters
  • Social matters

Individually set deadlines

In certain cases, the standard access restriction period of 20 years may be extended for reasons other than privacy considerations.

This includes information that requires special considerations, such as:

  • State security or national defense. Access to such information is generally restricted for 60 years.
  • The Danish Realm’s foreign policy or foreign economic interests. Access to such information is restricted for 30 years or more.
  • Matters regarding the Danish Royal House, e.g. in the archives of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Danish Ministry of Defence. Access to such information is restricted for 100 years
  • Furnishing of buildings (building drawings) that are currently used by courts, police and correctional facilities. Access to such information is restricted for 250 years.

The archive creator can contact the Danish National Archives to discuss an extension of the access restriction period. Periods exceeding 60 years can be set via negotiation with the Minister of Culture.

Access restriction periods for certain records

Confidential information may appear in all archival records. Accordingly, we are unable to provide a complete overview of cases subject to access restriction periods. This overview includes archival records that are among the most frequently accessed by users of the Danish National Archives.

Click on any of the items below to view the access restriction period for archival records falling under that category.

Parts of the Danish Ministry of Defence’s archive are subject to access restriction periods set by the ministry itself (typically 60 years).

The special access restriction periods are set to safeguard the security of the state or security of the Danish Realm.

Parts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ archives are subject to individually determined access restriction periods.

These special access restriction periods are set to protect the foreign policy or foreign economic interests of the Danish Realm, including its relations to foreign powers or international organisations.

A special catalogue of cases with extended access restriction periods can be found in the reading room of the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen.

See registers of people, Southern Jutland

Family law cases contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Examples of family law cases:

  • Adoption cases
  • Paternity cases
  • Separation and divorce cases
  • Cases regarding custody
  • Cases regarding visiting rights

Family law cases are typically located in the county archives, chief administrative authority archives, probate court archives and the Danish Ministry of Justice’s archives.

Censuses contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

If the purpose for accessing the archival records is genealogical research, you can use the 1950-1970 censuses upon obtaining a special permit. You can apply for the special permit in the reading room, where it will be processed immediately.

If the purpose is not related to genealogical research, you can apply for permission to access the records in the usual way.

Church records from 1925 and onwards may contain civil registration numbers and are subject to an access restriction period of 100 years.

If the church records are more than 50 years old or more than 10 years old and only contains information about deceased individuals, they can be used upon obtaining a special permit. You can apply for the special permit in the reading room, where it will be processed immediately.

If you wish to view other church records that are less than 50 years old, you can apply for permission to access the records in the usual way.

Court cases that contain information about individuals’ private affairs are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

The information can be found in the archives of police authorities and courts.

Criminal justice cases that contain information about individuals’ private affairs are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years. Other criminal justice cases can be accessed after 20 years.

Criminal justice case material includes material regarding:

  • investigations
  • charges
  • convictions
  • execution of sentences
  • pardons

Information of that character can be found in the archives of police authorities, prosecution authorities and the courts, as well as the archives of the Department of Prisons and Probation and Ministry of Justice.

You can apply for permission to view criminal case records. Applications relating to cases that fall under the criminal justice system and which are more recent than 50 years must be sent for consultation to the submitting authority. The authority must respond no later than one month after it has received the application.

The access restriction periods for digitally created data is set out in Chapter 6 of the Danish Archives Act. There is no difference between digitally created archival records and paper archival records as far as access restriction periods are concerned.

The archival records must be 20 years old before they can be accessed without restriction. If the archival records include information about individuals’ private affairs, the access restriction period is 75 years.

Digitally created data that was created less than 20 years ago cannot be accessed without restriction. However, the Danish National Archives may, with the consent of the issuing authority, grant a dispensation for use.

If the digitally created data contains information about individuals’ private affairs, the national archivist must obtain consent for dispensation from the Danish Data Protection Authority or Danish Court Administration until the 75-year access restriction period has expired.

The total time to process access requests that require consent can take as long as 60 days. Applicants will be notified if the process will take more than that (see sections 36-38 of the Danish Archives Act).

Read more about digitally created data

Estate archives are private archives, and the estate owner sets the access restriction periods for them. This means that the access restriction period for each archive has been set individually.

Generally, large parts of estate archives can be used freely. More recent parts of estate archives and certain parts of them may be subject to special access restriction periods.

Information about unfinished and finished exams constitutes information about individuals’ private affairs. These are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

For anniversary/reunion events, the Danish National Archives can provide printouts of student lists, etc. for a fee. The printout contains names and dates of birth, but access to information about others’ exam results is restricted.

This information is typically found in municipal archives, the educational institutions’ internal archives and the Danish Ministry of Education’s archives.

Fire insurance records are freely available.

However, certain access provisions may apply in relation to certain private fire insurance and credit companies.

Cases about residency in Denmark can be found in the Danish Immigration Service’s archives. These cases contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Levying rolls/genealogy books contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Please note that levying rolls that have the printing districts as archive creators contain information for up to 15 years after the levying roll’s date. The access restriction period of 75 years applies from the final year of the levying roll.

Records of tax-adjusted and tax-exempt motor vehicles must be 20 years old before they can be accessed. This means that all records submitted to the Danish National Archives can be freely used in the archive reading rooms.

National registers contain information about individuals’ private affairs. These are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

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

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

Genealogy book, client cases, patient records, etc. contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Personnel cases contain information about individuals’ private affairs and are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

The cases are found in all types of archives.

The provisions of the Danish Archives Act do not apply to private archives. The person submitting a private archive to the Danish National Archives sets the access restriction period for their archive.

Often, they choose the period set out in the Danish Archives Act relating to individuals’ private affairs, i.e. 75 years. Note that for private archives submitted before 2003, the access restriction period is usually set to 80 years.

In other cases, the archive creator (or their descendants) provide permission to access and use the archive. If so, you have to obtain permission yourself from the archive creator.

The individually set access restriction periods can be seen in the archive database Daisy (currently only applies to RA).

Search for archives in Daisy

Private archives may be subject to copyright

Note also that private archives (as well as archival records in the hand-written collection) may be covered by copyright legislation. The copyright status of the material may be an important consideration if, for example, you wish to publish and reproduce private individuals’ archives that have been submitted to the Danish National Archives.

Material in private archives that is protected by copyright may not be copied, and any photographs may not be passed on without the permission of the copyright holder.

Copyright protects the exclusive rights of an author (e.g. author or letter writer) or their heirs to works. Copyright protection applies 70 years after the author’s death.

Probate records, probate proceedings and wills/testaments contain information about individuals’ private affairs. These are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Probate records and wills/testaments that are between 50 and 75 years old can be used with special permission. You can apply for the special permit in the reading room, where it will be processed immediately.

If you wish to view probate records that are less than 50 years old, you can apply for permission to access the records in the usual way.

Registered documents, deed and mortgage records are freely accessible.

Marriage registers

Are freely accessible up to 1925, where registration ceased They can be found on Arkivalieronline.

Death records

Are freely accessible up to 1977. Death records more recent than 1977 have not been submitted. Records up to the year 1960 can be found on Arkivalieronline.

Birth registers

Are freely accessible after 75 years. On Arkivalieronline, however, they are freely accessible up to and including 1960, as pages with particularly sensitive personal information are not displayed.

Search tools contain the reference that makes it possible to identify and find a case in an archive. These are usually designed by the submitting authority itself.

Examples of search tools:

  • Name registers and directories
  • Subject registers and directories
  • Record plans
  • Records
  • Case lists

The access restriction period depends on the information contained in the search tools. The access restriction period is set according to individual assessment.

  • Search tools without information about individuals’ private affairs: access restricted for 20 years
  • Search tools with information about individuals’ private affairs: access restricted for 75 years
  • Search tools with other confidential information: individually set access restriction periods

You can receive special permission to view search tools to identify the records you wish to view. You can apply for the special permit in the reading room, where it will be processed immediately.

Midwife records contain information about individuals’ private affairs. These are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Wills/testaments are subject to an access restriction period of 75 years.

Wills/testaments that are between 50 and 75 years old can be used with special permission. You can apply for the special permit in the reading room, where it will be processed immediately.

If you wish to view wills/testaments that are less than 50 years old, you can apply for permission to access the records in the usual way.