Research in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano is free of charge and open to qualified scholars conducting scientific studies.
All researchers must have a university degree (five-year course) or an equivalent university diploma.
Clergymen must possess a licentiate degree or PhD.
Today permission is granted to consult the documents in the archives up until the end of the papacy of Pius XI (February 1939).
Access to Reading Rooms
Admission cards are required to access the rooms and can be obtained at the Admission Secretariat on Mondays to Fridays from 8.15 to 10.30 .
How to request an admission card
- Send an application to the Prefect of the Archivio Segreto Vaticano providing personal details (name, family name, address, nationality), qualifications, profession and reasons for the research.
- Provide a presentation letter from a recognized institute of scientific and historical research or a person qualified in the field of historical research (tenured university professors)
- Specify the latest academic qualification obtained (for laymen: university degree or equivalent university diploma, PhD, fellowship; for clergymen: licentiate degree or PhD)
- Attach photocopy of valid ID (ID card, passport)
- Provide 1 photograph
Researchers hand in the admission card at reception and sign the register adding time of entry. They are then given the keys to the locker where they leave items not allowed into the Reading Rooms.
Items not allowed in the Reading Rooms
- bags, briefcases or laptop cases
- pens, felt-tip pens, etc.
- food or drink
Mobile phones must be switched off.
Dress code must be appropriate for the Archivio Segreto Vaticano even during the summer. Silence is the rule in the Reading Rooms. The Reading Room staff will ensure researchers respect these mandatory rules of behaviour.
Registration on entry to and exit from the Reading Rooms
Researchers hand the key to the «Pio XI» Reading Room staff and write their name and time of entry in the register. Once they have finished, they return the archival material they have consulted, write the time of exit in the register and are given back their locker key.
Archivio Segreto Vaticano exit procedures
Before leaving the Archives all personal items have to be removed from the locker, the key returned, and the time of exit recorded in the register. Personal belongings may not be left in the Archives when absent.
Written applications explaining the reasons for afternoon access (from 15.00 to 17.45) may be addressed to the prefect and handed in to the Admission Secretariat. Documents cannot be ordered in the afternoon: consultation is limited to the items ordered in the morning and left in custody.
Volumes, boxes and documents are ordered at the distribution counter in the «Pio XI» Reading Room. They may not be removed from the room but consulted at the desks provided. Orders are accepted up to 12.00. No more than three items are granted per day and the same rule applies to documents in digital format. If required, and before 12.00, scholars may request that a maximum of 3 documents be left in custody for some days.
Inventories and other descriptive and research tools (Indexes)
Indexes may only be consulted in the «Leone XIII» Index Room and researchers may take them directly from the shelves. Photography is not allowed.
Bibliographic tools (printed matter)
Printed matter may be consulted only in the «Sisto V» Printed Matter Reading Room. Digital reproduction of original registers and documents on CD-Rom and DVD-Rom can be accessed from the workstations.
Reading Room staff will assist researchers.