Transferring Digital Records

Transferring digital records to the State Archives follows the same principles as the transfer of paper and other non-digital records. However, since the unique qualities of digital records require some variations in procedure, we have separate procedure page specifically for the transfer of digital records. View procedures on transferring non-digital records

As with paper records, digital records that will never be destroyed but that are no longer needed by the agency that created them for their day-to-day business are transferred to the State Archives for permanent retention. Here are the requirements for digital transfers:

Records Transfer Requirements

  • You can only transfer records that are identified as permanent on an approved Agency Records Retention and Disposal Schedule (retention schedule, for short). View additional information about retention schedules
  • You should only transfer permanent records to the custody of the Archives when they are no longer needed for current Agency business.
  • Before you transfer records, you must submit and have the Archives approve an Digital Record Transfer Inventory form. The form must be submitted electronically by email to
  • If there are indexes associated with the records that you intend to transfer, you must transfer those indexes along with the records. This ensures that the Archives can provide appropriate access to any records transferred to us.
  • If there is any additional information necessary to understand or provide access to the records being transferred (such as data dictionaries), you must also include this information with the Digital Record Transfer Inventory form.
  • To ensure long-term accessibility to permanent records, records transferred to the Archives must be in non-proprietary, open formats. In other words, records must not be in a format that requires specialized software to access them.
  • The Archives can only take on records if the records are in a format we can access and if we have the necessary information to provide access to the records in accordance with any legal restrictions.

Steps of the Transfer Process

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  • Inventory Review and Approval

      Archives staff will review inventories to ensure that it meets all of the transfer requirements. If we have any questions or concerns, we will contact you. When we communicate with you on a proposed transfer, we will reference the transfer number we assigned to that transfer. Should you need to, you can revise or update the Digital Record Transfer form. If you change the information in the form, keep the same transfer number, update the date, and re-submit it to

  • Preferred Formats

      To ensure the long-term accessibility of permanent records, records transferred to the Archives must be in non-proprietary, open formats that do not require specialized software to access them. Here are the Archives' preferred file formats for permanent records:


      1. TIFF
      2. jpeg
      3. PDF/A - text-searchable, if possible
      4. PDF - text-searchable, if possible


      1. rtf
      2. PDF/A - text-searchable, if possible
      3. PDF - text-searchable, if possible


      Database transfers must include the data sets and data structure in a mutually agreeable format, such as XML or mdb Access.

  • Methods of Transfer

      Once the Archives approves the Digital Record Transfer Inventory form, Archives staff will make arrangements with you on transferring the records. There are a number of different transfer methods:

      Removable media transfer

      Transfer by removable media works well for both small and large transfers and can be arranged for either a one-time or regularly scheduled transfer. Examples of removable media on which you can transfer records include flashdrives/jumpdrives, removable harddrives, CDs, and DVDs. If you do not have the removable media, the Archives may be able to provide it. The media can be sent using a shipping method that is tracked, such as UPS, FED EX, Courier, or USPS with certified mail return receipt requested.

      Online upload

      In this method of transfer, the Archives will establish an online site where you can upload the information. This method of transfer is generally best for transfers that will take place on a regular basis, as setting up the transfer requires some extra arrangements. It is also only suitable for transfers less than 1 gigabyte in total volume.

      To arrange this type of transfer, you must have FTP software. You must also provide the Archives with the Fixed/Static IP of the computer that will do the upload and the contact information for the person that will upload the information. The Archives will provide the URL for the upload, a user name and password, and a window of time in which the upload can take place.

      Online download

      This method is the same as the online upload except that you provide the URL at which the Archives can download the records to be transferred. As with the online upload, this method of transfer is preferable for transfers that are regularly scheduled and for a transfer of less than 1 gigabyte. You will provide the Archives with read/write/execute access to the download location.

      Googledrive download

      If you have access to googledocs, the Archives can set up a googledoc folder and share it with you. You can then drag and drop files to the googledoc folder to transfer it to the Archives. NOTE: Restricted records should not be transferred by googledoc.


      You can transfer records as an email attachment if the transfer is small. Restricted records should not be transferred by email without encryption.

  • Confirmation of Receipt

      After the transfer is complete, the Archives will send you an email confirming receipt with a copy of the finalized Digital Record Transfer Inventory form.

      If you have any additional questions about the digital record transfer process, please contact us at

This web site is provided as a courtesy of the Maryland State Archives. As you develop your records management program, you should consult with the Records Management Division of the Department of General Services and your staff counsel.

This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.

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