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Request Access to Holdings

While the World Bank’s data, publications, and final documents are available online, the vast majority of working documents, correspondence, and other operational records are currently restricted. However, anyone can request access to restricted records held in the Archives by following these steps.

Request Process

  • STEP 1 Determine whether the material you need is online
  • STEP 2 Identify records you need and refine your request
  • STEP 3 Submit an Access to Information request
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    Determine whether the material you need is online

    Refer to the resources listed on the Digital Collections page to determine if the information you need – or the answer to your question – can be found online.

    If you are unable to fulfill your research needs using online resources, you can ask us for more. Both restricted and unrestricted materials in the Archives are described in the Archives Catalog, which you can search to help focus your request.

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    Identify records you need and refine your request

    Use our Archives Catalog to identify which materials will fulfill your research need. See Using Our Finding Aids for help with refining your search.

    Depending on the size and complexity of your request, an archivist may contact you for additional details. If needed, an archivist will provide you with detailed instructions on how to use the Archives' finding aids, and how to search for information that is available via the World Bank’s website. An archivist will also do a preliminary search of the Archives’ holdings to identify relevant records that might help you.

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    Submit an Access to Information request

    Requests for information not available on the World Bank website may be submitted through the Access to Information Request Form. If this is your first request, you will be asked to create an account.

    Requests are acknowledged within 24 hours and Archives staff will provide a more comprehensive response within 20 business days. Additional time may be needed in special circumstances.

    If the information you need is currently restricted, an archivist will conduct a declassification review to determine if the information can be disclosed in accordance with the World Bank Policy on Access to Information. If requested records are restricted from public access, an archivist will provide a reason for the restriction and the date the decision was made.

    The declassification process usually takes 8 to 16 weeks depending on the volume of records requested. The process may take longer if the Archives has to consult a related business unit or obtain approval from a third party.

    Items that have been declassified will be made available in the Archives Reading Room on weekdays between 10 AM – 4 PM. In some cases, digitized copies of the records may be made available online.

    An Archivist will inform you once materials are declassified and available. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives in advance of a proposed research visit to ensure that the records will be available for them in time for their visit. For more information, see Visiting Our Reading Room.