Public service personnel records

​Library and Archives Canada holds records relating to former federal government public servants. Those records contain information about the individual's employment history, as well as personal information. Files are retained for 80 years dating from the individual's birth date. After 80 years, all these records are destroyed.

How to send an inquiry concerning your own or another individual's records

  • Your request must be signed.
  • To identify a file, we require surname, full given name(s), date of birth and social insurance number (S.I.N.).
  • If you do not know the date of birth or S.I.N., secondary information (e.g. the names of next of kin, dates and department where employed) can assist in identifying the correct individual.
  • Consult the section below on access restrictions.
  • Please specify what document(s) you require.
  • We do not accept email inquiries for these records.
  • Inquiries should be sent by mail or fax to:

Personnel Records
Library and Archives Canada
550 de la Cité Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec J8T 0A7
Fax: 613-947-8456

For a PDF form to fill in, print and mail, or to submit your request online, see Informal request for personnel records of former federal public service employees.

If you are inquiring about your own records and you left the public service less than 2 years ago, please contact the Human Resources office in the department where you were employed.

Access restrictions

  • Access to personal information relating to an individual who is still living requires that person's signed consent.
  • If the individual has been deceased for less than 20 years, limited information may be released to immediate family. Proof of death and relationship must be provided.
  • There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years. Proof of death is required.

Proof of death: A copy of a death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or photograph of the gravestone. Note that proof of death is not required if the individual died while still employed with the public service.

Proof of relationship: A document that clearly demonstrates the relationship between the individual concerned and the person requesting the record. Both names must appear on the document. A newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate or full-form birth certificate are acceptable. A wallet-sized birth certificate that does not indicate parents' names is not accepted. Please do not send original documents; photocopies are acceptable.

Immediate family: A parent, spouse, child, sibling or grandchild of the individual.

Should you wish to submit a formal request under Access To Information and Privacy legislation, see Access to and Use of Documents.

Historical files

A few personnel files were retained for historical purposes in the Public Service Commission fonds (Record Group 32). Use Collection Search and enter keywords such as the surname and RG32 as the archival reference number.

Consult the inventory description for the Public Service Commission for information about other types of records in that fonds, such as lists of civil servants (public servants).

Annual reports

The annual reports of federal government departments sometimes include lists of employees. The annual reports of the Auditor General also include such lists for various departments. All annual reports are published in the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, available at Library and Archives Canada and many other libraries.

Department of Finance (RG 19)

Some records have survived relating to employees of various federal government departments, including establishment books (1843-1920) and superannuation registers (1870-1891). Use Collection Search to search for these files. Enter keywords such as "superannuation," "establishment" and RG19.

Earlier records

The following records consist of applications and lists of appointments. They are not indexed by name and are not available on microfilm.

Content of volumes for Quebec, Lower Canada, Upper Canada and Canada:
Civil Service Records, 1764-1874 (RG 4 B33)
1Applications for employment1857
2Applications for employment1858
3Applications for employment1859
4Applications for employment1860-1861
5Register of applications for offices1842-1857
5ARegister of applications for offices1857-1867
6Applications for employment1862
7Applications for employment1863-1864
8Applications for employment1865-1868, 1871, 1874
9Minutes of the Board of Examiners1857-1858
9Civil Service examinations1858-1861
10Civil Service examinations1862-1863
11Civil Service examinations1864-1865
12Civil Service examinations1866-1868, 1871, 1874
13Civil Service examination results & reports1857-1861
14Civil Service examination results & reports1862-1868, 1871, 1874
15Minutes of the proceedings of the Civil Service Commission1862
16AList of miscellaneous appointments1842-1852
18Appointments of Surveyors1764, 1784-1805
19Appointments of Surveyors1808-1821
20Appointment of Surveyors1822-1840
20AReturns of the Civil Establishment1817
21Returns of the Civil Establishment1822, 1834-1835
22Returns of the Civil Establishment1840
23List of the Civil Establishment (photostat), annotated to indicate appointments from 1777 onward1809
Content of Volumes for Upper Canada and Canada West:
Applications for Appointments to Public Office, 1803-1876 (RG 5 B7)
1List of Candidates for Office, naming the person recommended; arranged alphabetically1836-1837
2Applications for appointment, arranged alphabetically by name and office1831
3Civil Officers of Districts, listed alphabetically within the districts1803-1817
4Letters of application and of recommendation1839-1841
4ALetters regarding the appointment of Clerks of the Peace1844
5Register of applicants for district offices, arranged by district1842-1845
6Letters of application and recommendation for employment and for relief1840-1846
7Letters of application and recommendation1841
8Letters of application and recommendation1854-1876
9Register of applicants for appointments, arranged by district1838-1841
10Register of applicants for appointments, with a list of incumbents, arranged by district; with an index1840-1847
11Register of magistrates and coroners, arranged by district, with an index1840
12Register of candidates recommended for appointments, arranged by district1812-1816
13Register of appointments (except magistrates and coroners), arranged by district1842-1867
14Letters of application and certificates1841-1843
22Register of appointments to offices, by officecirca 1841

Post Office

The Post Offices and Postmasters database contains the names and dates of service of former postmasters and postmistresses. Note that many of these individuals were paid by commission and were not Post Office employees.

Mail couriers and those who operated rural mail service routes were hired by contract and were not Post Office employees. References to contracts can be found in the Mail service contract registers (RG3.) Use Collection Search to search for these files in finding aid 3-43. Enter the keywords RG3 and 3-43 and the name of a place or province or the word Territories. Files that include a microfilm number, such as T-2049, are digitized on Héritage.

Civil Service List of Canada (1883-1918)

These annual publications include the names, dates of birth, dates of appointment and salaries of federal civil servants, including some Post Office employees. Paper and microform copies are available in many libraries; use Library Search for locations.

For information about records relating to employees of provincial and territorial governments, we recommend that you start your search by contacting the relevant Provincial or Territorial Archives.

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