Detailed guide: The UKHO Archive

Uk Hydrographic Office

July 16
13:43 2019

The UKHO Archive represents one of the most complete maritime collections of its type in the world. Below is an overview of how to access the archive and how to order copies of archive material.

About the Archive

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) was founded in 1795 by an order in council under the auspices of King George the Third. Its first Hydrographer was Alexander Dalrymple F.R.S. who was based in the Admiralty in London.

Today, situated in Taunton, Somerset, the UKHO Archive contains hundreds of thousands of hydrographic and navigational documents, some dating from the 17th century. Some of our treasured items include a chart of Portsmouth UK from the 1620s, the first government sponsored hydrographic survey of Great Britain, surveys by Captain James Cook and records relating to HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin.

Accessing the UKHO Archive

To arrange a visit to the Archive for genuine research purposes, please contact the Archive Research Section with the appropriate amount of notice:

  • British Nationals 1-2 weeks
  • Foreign Nationals 4-6 weeks

As the Archive is situated on a Ministry of Defence site, failure to apply far enough in advance will mean a visit may be refused. Travel and hotel arrangements should not be made before a visit date and security clearances have been confirmed by the Archive.

Personal access to the archive is free. We do, however, charge for reproductions of documents, any research work and handling undertaken by our staff. For further details please see below.

Download the visit request form;

Archive visit request form


Researchers are entitled to the first hour free. Once the free hour has passed you will be asked if you wish to use the archive research service, at a charge 20 for each 15 minutes spent working on your request. If you need this service we will provide you with an estimated number of hours, which will require payment in advance. No work will be undertaken until the payment has been received.

Alternatively researchers can employ their own record agent to come in and undertake the work they require. A list of specialist record agents is available on request. The UKHO does not endorse the work of any persons whose details are on this list.

Obtaining copies of archive material

Our Archive houses a high quality studio camera and lighting system, which allows us to make reproduction copies of our historic documents without damaging them. Reproduction copies can then be provided as printed copies or as digital images. Please see the table below for all of our product/service costs. Please remember to add to your estimate:

  • handling charge (minimum of 15 per order)
  • postage and packing (minimum of 3 per order)
  • VAT at the current rate (if applicable)

Please be aware that high quality colourfast prints are supplied on a satin (glossy) paper and unfortunately cannot be printed on standard matt chart paper.

When documents are digitally scanned, the colours do not always appear as per the original. Therefore, digital copies are supplied with a colour and scale bar alongside to enable customers to calibrate colours and correctly scale each image to the original size for printing. Customers requiring colour correction and/or re-sizing to be applied for them will incur a charge of 15 per image.

The sizes in the table below are based on the size of document to be copied (copies are not reduced unless asked for). We are able to provide A4 and A3 colour and black and white photocopies of original documents no larger than A3 size. Any requirement for an original document larger than A3 to be reduced, will need to be scanned, costing a minimum of 25 plus VAT. For documents larger than A0, an estimate will be provided by Research staff. These documents may also require digital stitching together; this service costs an additional 80 per hour. The reproduction will be supplied in parts unless stitching is requested.

We offer a priority service for documents that are to be supplied in digital softcopy format via [WeTransfer] (, without colour correction applied. The 40 price is per order, in addition to the product and admin prices and is without VAT.

Product Size Up to A4 Up to A3 Up to A2 Up to A1 Up to A0 Up to 2x A0 Up to 4x A0
B&W photocopy 0.40 0.50
Colour photocopy 0.80 1.00
Digital print on satin paper (colour corr/resizing inc.) 15 20 25 30 40 80 160
Digital Scan on disc (no colour corr/resizing) 25 25 25 25 25 50 100
Digital Scan on disc (colour corr/resizing inc.) 40 40 40 40 40 65 115
Research fee per hour 80
Handling/admin fee per hour 60
Digital stitching per hour 80
Priority service (per order) 40

Order process

To place an order, please consult the price list above, complete the order form and email it to We will then email you a quote and once paid for, your order can be processed. We now offer PayPal as our preferred method of payment. Transactions can also be made by Credit/debit card via PayPal without requiring a PayPal account. Please complete as many fields in the form as possible.

Order form

Please consult the price list above before filling in an order form. Please note that the minimum cost for an A2 print is 54.00 and for a digital image is 51.60 (delivered to a U.K. address). Please complete as many fields in the form as possible.

Download the order form:

Order form

Please allow a minimum of ten working days for an order to be despatched after making payment, depending on the complexity of the order.

Archive material may be subject to copyright. Please refer to our copyright section for details.

Purchasing copies of surveys

Copies of Royal Navy surveys can be supplied. Permission has to be obtained by Research staff for surveys that are less than 125 years old. All copies have to be paid for in advance before they are released.

The UKHO holds a large quantity of third party survey data, i.e. surveys not owned by the Royal Navy. They cannot be released witho

Related Articles


  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This

Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: