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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is PARES? What does it contain?

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The Spanish Archives Portal (PARES) is the main platform used to disseminate Spain's Historical Document Heritage, created and managed by the National Archives Department of the Ministry of Culture and Sport.

It contains information sheets and digitised images of the historical documents held in the National Archives. However, given the enormous volume of documents, not all of the documentation held in our archives is currently available on PARES. There is an increasing amount of content available on PARES as archivists continue their work to identify, describe and digitise the documents.

2. How do I access PARES? Do I need to register on the Portal?

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PARES does not require you to register as a user. It is open and free for everyone to access and view both the descriptive information about the documents and the images associated with them.

3. How do I search for information on PARES?

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There are two ways to search for information on PARES: Search for documents and Search for authority records.

You can carry out simple searches for documents and authority records using the search boxes at the top of the screen. Enter a word or words related to or representative of the topic you want to research as the search criteria. You will be shown a list of information sheets or authority records that include these words and that may be of interest.

The Advanced Search forms can be used to narrow down searches by applying the various filters offered by the system: for example, we can narrow down our search results to a specific Document, specific dates or a specific catalogue number.

Click here to see the PARES Search Manual.

4. What is the Researcher's Notebook? What is it used for?

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PARES offers each of its users a personal space, the Notebook, where they can save search results, documents or authority records.

The Notebook requires a username and password. The first time a researcher opens it, they will have to click on "New User" and enter the information requested in the form that appears on their screen.

Click here to see the PARES Notebook Manual.

5. Can you download digitised document images on PARES?

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Yes. In addition to viewing the images of digitised documents, PARES users can print and save them using the icons in the top right-hand corner of the image viewer, in order to view them privately and for educational and research purposes. There is also an option to send up to 5 images by email in a PDF file.

6. Why do PARES images have a watermark?

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PARES images have a watermark on them designed in such a way that it will never make the content of the documents, whether textual or iconographic, difficult to consult, read, analyse or see.

The watermark is used to show that the Ministry of Culture and Sport has the exclusive right to authorise, reproduce, distribute and publicly share the digitised images held in the National Archives. Anyone wishing to use the documents for anything other than consulting their contents, or for educational or research purposes; or wishing to obtain quality copies for reuse or public dissemination, will need to adhere to what is set out in question number 8.

7. If a document is not digitised, can I ask for a copy?

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Yes. Researchers must directly contact the archives that hold the original document by post, email or using the contact form on their website. The request must include their personal details (address and NIF/NIE—Spanish ID number—or passport number) and the catalogue number and name of the documents they would like a copy of. Our colleagues at the archive will send researchers a quote and information regarding payment methods.

Prices, which are the same for all of the archives managed by the National Archives Department, can be seen at: https://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/cultura/areas/archivos/mc/archivos/ahn/servicios/servicio-de-reprografia.html

8. Can I publish or exhibit copies of documents downloaded from PARES?

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Before using and publicly disseminating or reusing the images available on PARES, as well as those held or provided by the National Archives, whether you wish to sell them or not, you must first contact the archive that has the original document and inform them of your intention to do so by:

  • Sending a request to the Archive or Centre where the documents are held (stating whether or not it is for commercial purposes).
  • Signing, where necessary, the corresponding agreement, authorisation for use or licence for reuse.
  • Paying, where necessary, the appropriate fee established by virtue of Law 37/2007, of 16 November (Article 7) and Order CUL/1077/2011, of 25 April, which specify the public fees.
  • Committing to respecting, where necessary, the applicable intellectual property rights and regulations in force on personal data protection.

Requests should include the personal details of the sender and reference code/catalogue number of the document(s) they want to copy/publish. For publications, the requests should also state the page/folio number that the sender wishes to copy, the title of the publication in which it will be reproduced and the name of the institution or person sending the request.

The correct and mandatory way to cite information sheets or images obtained from PARES and any documentation held in our archives is as follows:

MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORT Archive (state the full name of the Archive), Reference Code or Catalogue Number.

If you wish to cite the electronic version, the correct way to do so is as follows:

MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORT Archive (state the full name of the Archive), Reference Code or Catalogue Number. Available at: (Copy the persistent URL from the address bar in your browser) [Accessed on: state the date you accessed the content].

9. Can images and information sheets from PARES be shared on Social Media?

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Yes, both information sheets and images can be shared on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons in the top right-hand corner of the image viewer or information sheet.

10. How can I view the original documents found in PARES?

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The original documents can be viewed in the research rooms at the National Archives. The only requirements for accessing them are that you must be of legal age and show valid ID (NIF, NIE or Passport), in accordance with the provisions of Royal Decree 1266/2006, of 8 November. Click here to see the Rules for accessing and viewing documents in the National Archives.

Pursuant to the personal data protection regulations, please be informed that your data will be stored in the "PARES User Management" database which is managed by the Directorate General for Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Sport (Plaza del Rey 1, Planta 0 - archivos.estatales@cultura.gob.es).

The purpose of its processing is: National Archives user form for controlling access to the Research Rooms and historical documents consulted in the same, and also to provide services to users included in the database. You can see the Additional Information on processing here.

11. What other databases can I search?

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In addition to PARES, there are other subject-specific databases that can be searched. These may contain information extracted only from collections held in the National Archives; or even share data provided by other archival institutions.

You can search them by clicking on: Find out more

12. Are all the documents in the National Archives open access?

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Access to documents held in the National Archives is predominantly regulated by the following legislation:

All documents are open access with the exception of the following:

  • Documents whose content may risk the defence and security of the Spanish State or the investigation of crimes.
  • Documents that contain personal data protected by the applicable regulations.
  • Classified documents in accordance with Law 9/1968, of 5 April, on official secrets, or expressly provided for by Law.
  • Documents in bad condition.
  • Lack of technical processing that guarantees a minimum level of documentary control.
  • Pursuant to restrictive clauses in the agreements for new collections.
  • Force majeure (document restoration, work being carried out in the archives, collection recounts, etc.)

With regard to consulting documents containing personal data that may affect a person's honour and privacy, a series of time periods have been established by law: 25 years from the date of death of the individual, if known, or 50 years from the date the documents were created, if there is good reason to rule out the possibility of infringing an individual's right to personal and family privacy or risking the security of the party involved, and all in accordance with the data protection regulations (Art. 57.c of Law 16/1985 and Art. 28 of RD 1708/2011). It must be taken into account that Spanish legislation makes it possible for the requesting party to access documents if they prove a legitimate interest, specifying that "for these purposes, anyone who requests access in order to exercise their rights and researchers who accredit that access is for historical, scientific or statistical purposes will be considered to have a legitimate interest (Art 28.3 of RD 1708/2011).

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