Guidelines for Access to Personnel Files of Former Federal Public Servants

On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Custodian
  3. Requesting Employee Personnel Records
  4. Refiles
  5. Interfiles

1. Introduction

These guidelines are to direct Government of Canada institutions in the procedure to access the personnel files of former Federal Public Service Employees held in the Central Canada Regional Service Centre (CCRSC) in Manitoba.

Please note that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) no longer accepts personnel files of former Federal Public Service Employees for long-term retention.

This is aligned with LAC’s mandate to acquire and preserve archival records, but which does not require the storage of dormant records. Managing the personnel files was a historical role but was not continued under the Library and Archives of Canada Act (2004).

  • Personnel files currently in the Central Canada Regional Service Centre (CCRSC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba will be continue to be managed by LAC, including destruction at the end of their retention period. 
  • CCRSC will continue to manage access requests to personnel files stored there.

Questions or comments about this policy can be addressed to 

2. Custodian


The custodian is the authorized person within a department who will be responsible for the care and integrity of all records involving the CCRSC. This person will be the primary contact with the CCRSC if a record must be located while it is on loan. It is imperative that the active custodian be aware of all previous accessions shipped to and records requested from the CCRSC.

Naming a Custodian

Clients should appoint a specific individual in the office as the custodian of records. It is recommended that these individuals be a Supervisor or Records Manager rather than a staff member who may only be in the department a short time; i.e. casuals. CCRSC inputs all contact information for custodians into the records control system. All files requested from that department and returned to the CCRSC will have this individual's name associated with them.

CCRSC must be notified, in writing (contact information below), if a custodian is no longer active (has left the department or unit).


​The notification of a new custodian or updates to an existing one must also be made in writing (contact information above) and must include:

  • Full name of department and custodian
  • Shipping address
  • Phone and fax number
  • Courier name and account number

NOTE: The client is responsible for shipping costs related to records requested

Requesting files

Other departmental personnel can request a record, on behalf of a custodian; however, records can only be charged out and shipped to the custodian's name. If necessary, CCRSC can add an "ATTN: _______" on the documentation however records will only be shipped to the address on record. It is very important that the custodian is indicated on all correspondence to expedite the delivery of the request.

3. Requesting Employee Personnel Records

Requests for records must be made in writing

  • Mail:
    Library and Archives Canada
    Central Canada Regional Service Centre
    1700 Inkster Blvd
    Winnipeg, MB R2X 2T1
  • Email:

The following information must be provided on the Record Request Form (see Appendix A):

  • The specific reason for each record request (see Appendix B)
  • Name and contact number of custodian
  • The Federal Government Department Name
  • Full name (family name(s), given name(s)) for each individual
  • Date of birth
  • PRI or any other identification number(s) (such as, Superannuation)

Important notice

It is imperative that all the above information is provided in order to process request(s). Any missing information may result in delays.

Shipping Record Requests

  • The client is responsible for shipping costs related to records requested.
  • The use of a national courier that has a presence in Winnipeg is encouraged.
  • If changes are made to the courier account (e.g. switching from one courier to another, switching from air to ground, address change, or account number change) CCRSC must be notified in writing. See above for contact information.

Important Conditions for Records on Temporary Loan

  • A follow-up notice is automatically generated for records on temporary loan that are not returned within 90 days; they are still the legal responsibility of LAC. Upon receipt of a notice, please return records as soon as possible, or contact CCRSC, in writing, if records are required for a longer period of time. Always state the reason for the extension requirement.
  • Records must be left in their original record cover, and must not be amalgamated with any other records. Records requested from CCRSC have a bar code label on the front cover. These labels are the most important component in the control of our holdings and they must remain on the front of the records. If a record was amalgamated into another record, the label on the amalgamated record would not be visible; therefore our records would show that the record is still charged out to the client. Any alterations can cause problems with future transactions of the records.
  • If a record cover is extremely tattered and must be replaced to protect the documents inside, affix the bar code to the new record cover and place the old record cover immediately inside the new cover.
  • If another department contacts you with regard to a record you have on temporary loan, please return the record to CCRSC. Transfer of records between institutions is strictly prohibited. Records must be returned to CCRSC to ensure accuracy in the records control system. The department that requires the record can then request it from CCRSC using the proper procedures.

Important Conditions for Records Shipped to a Department Permanently - Employee is taken on Strength (TOS)

  • Once the records have been shipped they now become the legal responsibility of the receiving department. However, in order to maintain the integrity of the Library and Archives tracking system, departments are encouraged to start additional volumes for the employee and leave the bar-coded records from CCRSC intact.
  • If an employee is transferred to another Federal Government Department, CCRSC records on permanent loan can be forwarded to that department without first being sent back to the CCRSC. Any future inquiries regarding these records, however, will be referred to the department that the CCRSC has on record in their file control system.

4. Refiles

  • Refiles are records on loan from CCRSC, and have a bar code label on the front cover. The bar code label identifies the department code and the CCRSC locator number. This code is an integral part of tracking CCRSC holdings and ensuring the care and control of Employee Personnel Records.
  • Refiles can be returned to CCRSC without prior approval.
  • Records that have been on loan and are being returned for refiling should be placed in a box/envelope in an orderly fashion and labelled "Refiles". Always include contact information with shipments. If sending more than one box, write the box number/total number of boxes on each box (e.g. 1/10, 2/10...9/10, 10/10) for tracking purposes. A detailed list of these records is not required.

5. Interfiles

  • Loose documents/paperwork that must to be added into a record held at CCRSC are called interfiles, and should be packaged separately from refiles.
  • Interfiles can be shipped at any time throughout the year.
  • The box/envelope containing these papers must be labelled "INTERFILES" on the outside and contain a letter with full contact information of the sender.
  • Documents for interfiling must contain the following information:
    • Family and given name
    • Date of birth
    • PRI and/or other identification numbers
    • Department the interfile is associated with (for example, DND record). An employee can work for several different departments. It is necessary to identify which departmental record the papers must be interfiled to.
  • Interfiles inherit the same retention period as the rest of the personnel file, that is, until the employee reaches the age of 80.
  • CCRSC may return any interfiles which have insufficient information for filing or no record of the employee can be located on our inventory control system.

Glossary of Terms

Custodian: Authorized person within a department who will be responsible for the care and integrity of loaned material from LAC-CCRSC; usually a Supervisor or Records Manager. This person will be the primary contact if a record must be located while it is on loan. See section 2.

Department: The federal government institution or agency for whom an individual works (such as, Justice Canada or Canadian Space Agency). A department can have different sections/divisions such as Human Resources, Finance and Accounting, Material Management.

Follow-up Notice: A reminder indicating that employee personnel records are temporarily charged out to a specific department for 90, 120, 150 and 180 days and are due back at the CCRSC.

Interfile: Loose documents/ paperwork that needs to be added into a record in the control of the CCRSC.

LAC:  Library and Archives Canada

CCRSC (Central Canada Regional Service Centre): Regional Service Centre of LAC where SOS Employee Personnel Records are held, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

PRI: (Personal Record Identifier) a number assigned to associate an employee with his or her personal records in the federal Public Service

Refile: A previously accessioned record which has a bar code label on the cover. See section 4.

SOS (Struck off Strength) Year: The year that an employee ceases to work within a specific federal government department. An employee can have several SOS years throughout their career.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can request a record?

Departmental personnel can request a record, but, for security purposes, records can only be charged out under the custodian's name. It is very important that the custodian is indicated on all correspondence to expedite the delivery of the request. (See section 2)

2. I have received a follow-up notice, what should I do?

Return the record(s), or if you require them for a longer period, inform the CCRSC in writing of the requirement for an extension, stating the specific reason. (See section 3)

3. Can I replace the old record cover with a new one?

No, unless the record's cover is so tattered that the contents may be damaged. It is imperative, in this case, that the bar code is transferred to the front of the replacement record and the old cover be placed inside the new one. (See section 3)

4. Can I amalgamate records I have received from CCRSC with records from our office?

No, amalgamating records is prohibited. The record must be left in the original record cover to ensure the accuracy of the CCRSC tracking system (bar codes). Departments are encouraged to add additional volumes to an Employee's Personnel Records rather than amalgamate any records that were previously held at CCRSC. (See section 3)

5. Another department wants the records that I have on loan from CCRSC; can I send them the records?

That depends...

  • If the records are on loan temporarily (records were requested for an administrative nature and the employee is not TOS), the records CANNOT be transferred to another department. They must be returned to CCRSC for proper distribution and control. (See section 3)
  • If the records have been loaned out permanently (employee is TOS with that department), the records can be transferred to the department who will now have the employee on strength without first being sent to CCRSC. (See section 3)

6. When can I return refiles?

Refiles can be returned to CCRSC at any time. (See section 4)

7. I have loose papers that belong in records that are already at CCRSC, what should I do with them?

Send the loose papers to CCRSC indicating that the papers need to be interfiled with existing records. Please ensure the interfiles have the employee name, PRI, date of birth, and the name of the department it belongs to, so that we can correctly match it with the record. (See section 5)

Appendix A: Request Form

Download and complete the Employee Personnel Records Request Form (RTF 114 Kb).

Send completed form to:

Library and Archives Canada
Central Canada Regional Service Centre
1700 Inkster Boulevard
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2X 2T1


The form requires the following information

Return address information

  • Department
  • City
  • Telephone number
  • Fax number
  • Requested by​
  • Custodian's name

Information required to retrieve these records

  • Family and given names
  • PRI and any other personal identification numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Specific reason for this request

Appendix B: Policy on providing a specific reason for requesting Employee Personnel Records

CCRSC may only forward to the federal institution its former member's file for the purpose for which the personal information was obtained or compiled or for a consistent use with that purpose when the institution does not have the written authorization of the individual who is the subject of the file. The purpose and consistent use are referred to in InfoSource: Sources of Federal Employee Information.

Effective November 2005, all requests for Employee Personnel Records must be made in writing. Due to a complaint recorded with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, we have strengthened our processes to ensure that we comply with the Privacy Act and Info Source: Sources of Federal Employee Information. As Library and Archives Canada is the legal custodian, we reserve the right to refuse the request if we are not satisfied it is in accordance with the Privacy Act and Info Source: Sources of Federal Employee Information.

We will accept requests by email at only. Requests cannot be accepted via the telephone for any reason.

Requests may only be made for the following reasons:

  • Administrative Action: "The use of personal information in a decision making process that directly affects the individual(s) to whom the information relates." Please document exactly what type of administrative action needs to be done on the record. Refer to the Info Source: Sources of Federal Employee Information for details regarding what actions are acceptable for your department. The record will be charged out on temporary loan, and it is expected that the record will be returned within 90 days. For temporary loans, departments are not authorized to add or remove any documents from the record, as the Library and Archives Canada is the legal custodian.
  • Hired the employee: Hired or re-hired the person to work in the department. The record will be charged out on a permanent basis, as the employee has now commenced working for the department. The legal responsibility for this record now belongs to the requesting department.

In order to aid in the retrieval of these records, the following information will be required:

  • Family and given names
  • PRI and any other identity numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Name of Department(s) where individual has worked

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