Access to Information and Privacy legislation or Donor restrictions and how they affect your access to our collections

Did you know that both government and non-government records held in the archival collections of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) are subject to access restrictions?

For federal government records, the Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens the right to access information. It is also important to note that, in Canada, there is no “30-year rule” that applies to government documents, even if such rules exist in other countries.

For archival fonds or collections donated by private individuals, there will often be restrictions on research access. These are sometimes called “Donor restrictions.”

For access to both federal government records and documents donated by private individuals, legal mechanisms are involved and must be respected without exception.
So when you need to consult restricted material at LAC, you must factor into your project deadlines the time required to process your request. Processing time will vary based on the request and the materials involved.

For more information on restrictions and how to request access, please consult the Discover the Access Codes for Archival Records at Library and Archives Canada Part I and Part II pages on our blog.

Frequently Asked Questions for the Personnel Records Unit

Are you looking for the service number of a former service person?

If so, you must contact Library and Archives Canada by telephone to speak with an analyst from the Personnel Records Unit. The toll-free numbers are 1-866-578-7777 or Service Canada at 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

The Personnel Records Analyst will ask you to provide the full name and date of birth of the former service person. Most military service numbers can be released over the telephone. However, service numbers issued after February 1, 1968, remain protected and are not provided or confirmed over the telephone.

To learn more about ordering this type of record, read the Library and Archives Canada Blog post – How to Order Military Records from the Personnel Records Unit.

Which documents are needed to receive benefits?

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is the department that administers services and benefits to former military service personnel and their families.  Since numerous services and benefits are available, VAC may require a variety of documents to determine eligibility requirements.

With respect to benefit applications, Library and Archives Canada can assist in providing copies of the required documents from the military personnel records of former service personnel.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

How to Order Military Records from the Personnel Records Unit

The Personnel Records Unit at Library and Archives Canada manages all Canadian military service files from 1919–1998 for Regular members, and until 2007 for Reserve members. These files have some access restrictions, which means that not everyone can view them because they are protected by the provisions of privacy legislation. Each file contains an individual’s personal information and details of employment history.

If you are interested in receiving your own or another individual’s record, please read and follow the steps in the Application for Military Service Information form. You must submit this form only if you wish to receive a military service file from 1919–1997, including those files of soldiers from the Second World War (not killed in action).

You can also request a Genealogy Package to receive military records of soldiers from the Second World War (killed in action). The package includes copies of selected documents from the file that highlight and summarize an individual’s service, including enlistment, units served, family details, etc. Your request must include the name, service number, archival reference and volume number, which you can find by searching the Second World War Service Files: Canadian Armed Forces War Dead database.

Requests for a Genealogy Package can be submitted online via the Genealogy Inquiry Form or by mail or fax to:

ATIP and Personnel Records Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N4
Fax: 613-947-8456

Lastly, to order military records from the First World War, please consult our past blog post entitled “Canadians and the First World War”.

Questions, comments or feedback? We would love to hear from you!

Summary of comments received in French up to September 30th, 2013

Summary of comments received in French between April 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014

  • An elderly client requests some assistance looking for their father’s service file of the First World War.