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PRONI search service

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What is the PRONI search service?

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (2000), the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) offers a chargeable service for searching the archives. This search service applies to records which are currently open to the public here at PRONI.
If you are unable to visit PRONI or don’t want to carry out research yourself, the PRONI search service can provide a route for you to access specific information.

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What sort of searches does the PRONI Search Service undertake?

Searches routinely offered include:
  • baptism, marriage or burial entry in a church record
  • copy of a census return
  • extract from a valuation record
  • entry in a tithe book
  • extract from a rental in a landed estate record
  • extract from crew lists and shipping agreements
  • copy of a will
  • search for a named individual 5 years either side of an agreed date within a particular archive
Follow-up requests will be accepted subject to demands on staff time
Definite information is required to proceed with a search and the chances of a successful outcome will depend on the accuracy of the information you give us.

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What sort of searches does the PRONI Search Service NOT undertake?

Unfortunately, resources do not permit PRONI to undertake lengthy searches. If a search is too detailed, we will suggest you make arrangements to visit PRONI yourself or contact an independent commercial researcher.
The PRONI search service cannot:
  • provide a comprehensive genealogical research service
  • undertake ‘speculative’ searches - for example, we cannot provide you with details of every individual with a particular surname that appears on a register between certain dates

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How do I request a search?

Search requests must be made in writing – you can contact us by letter, email or fax or complete a PRONI enquiry form online.
You should include your own contact details and clearly state the information you are looking for, providing as many relevant details as possible.
It is not always necessary to know the full PRONI reference (such as CAB/9B/312/8 or HA/32/1/702) or archive you are interested in, but it is extremely helpful if you do. You will find the references in the PRONI catalogues, guides, indexes and leaflets.
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What is the charge for the PRONI search service?

We will answer most short and straightforward enquiries free of charge.
We don’t normally charge for providing information on sources, for example, if you are asking whether or not we hold records of a particular school, church or landed estate.
If you want staff to carry out a search in the archives, for example, if you want us to locate a specific census return or the record of a baptism or marriage, then you should expect to pay a search fee.
Search fees are currently £15.50 per search undertaken, for example, a search for a census return will normally be charged per address searched.
There is a separate charge for photocopying and postage where applicable. A search fee will be payable where copying involves research to identify the items to be copied.
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Is payment for a search required in advance?

Payment is made in advance of a search but you should not send payment before you receive a form advising you of the nature and exact cost of the work.  Our experience allows us to provide an estimate of the work involved and we will confirm with you the extent of the search, what we will be looking for and the records we will be using to conduct the search.
Only when this has been agreed and payment received do we proceed with the search.
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Do I still have to pay if PRONI’s search in the archives is unsuccessful?

Our fees are based on the time spent to carry out the search and not on the results.  It is therefore very important that you provide us with accurate information and tell us precisely what you want us to find for you.
There are no refunds for unsuccessful searches.
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What methods of payment do you accept and can I pay with foreign currency?

Payment can be made by post with a cheque, postal order or banker’s draft - we do not advise customers to send cash in the post. Postal payments should be accompanied by a completed payment form (which will have been sent to you when agreeing your search). We can also accept payment by credit/debit card or cash on-site.
We cannot accept payment details by e-mail or by telephone for security reasons and payments cannot be made online.
We regret that we cannot accept payment in any currency other than pounds sterling. Cash payments in other currencies will be returned.
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How long will a search take?

You can expect a response to your enquiry within 10 – 14 working days. If we agree to undertake a paid search, you should be notified of the outcome within 20 working days.
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Can the PRONI search service provide copies of documents?

The PRONI search service can provide copies of documents as per our general PRONI copying and copyright terms.

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