Why are there access restrictions on Historical Records?

Part of FamilySearch's mission is to make historical records available to help people discover their family history. To provide you with access to these records, we partner with record custodians worldwide to digitize, index, and make records available to you freely online.

In our agreements with record custodians, we try to get the broadest possible access for our users. However, the ultimate rights governing what access we can provide are granted by the record custodian and the laws of each country that govern access to records.

FamilySearch’s strict adherence to these rights and laws protects the records and the information found in the records, builds trust, and enables us to continue making more records available over time.

The video Access to Records is a helpful resource for understanding why some records are not available to all users.

As you search for records, you can determine whether it has access restrictions.


  1. Search for a historical record.
  2. In the search results, a camera icon on the far right tells you that images are associated with the record. 
  3. Click the camera icon. If the image is restricted or available only on a partner site, a message explains the situation. For a list of the various messages and what they mean, see What are the image restrictions in Historical Records? (481226).
  4. If you encounter a restricted record, you may be able to get access by doing one of these things:
    • Go to a local family history center or the Family History Library, and use a computer there. Many restricted images are available for viewing within a FamilySearch facility.
    • Try accessing the record from the partner site or the site of the record owner. (Fees may apply.)


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