How to Obtain Copies of Veterans' Records from the National Archives
The instructions for ordering military and pension records from the US government's National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have changed. To obtain the latest information, it is best to visit the NARA website Genealogy Research in Military Records to learn how military records can help in genealogy research. You may order records online, or you may order the forms and submit them by snail mail.
- To order military service records for soldiers who served prior to World War I (i. e., 1775-c1916), the recommended form is NATF Form 86; click here.
- To order military pension and bounty-land warrant records for soldiers who served prior to World War I (i. e., 1775-c1916), the recommended form is NATF Form 85; click here.
- To order various types of records for soldiers who served in World War I, World War II or any later conflicts (i. e., those who served from c1917 to the present day), the recommended form is Standard Form 180.
- Access to post-WWI records is limited. Any veteran himself or herself may order his or her own records; click here.
- In the case of deceased veterans who served in 1917 or later, a "next of kin" may order these records. If you are one of these qualifying relatives, you may click here for further information about how to order these records. A "next of kin" is defined by NARA as
- a surviving spouse who has not remarried;
- a mother or father;
- a son or daughter;
- a sister or brother.
If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you must provide proof of death of the veteran such as a copy of death certificate, letter from funeral home, or published obituary.
- Provision is made for others obtain post-1917 records under certain circumstances; so even if you are not eligible under the above definition of a "next of kin", you still may be able to obtain copies of a deceased veteran's records, such as those of your grandfather, for example. You would use the Standard Form 180; for further information about how to apply using Standard Form 180, click here.
The US government, and NARA, must comply with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). For details of this law, click here.
Send comments or suggestions to:
Go Back to Soldiers & Sailors
Go Back to Home Page