Requesting Military Records

Military personnel records can be used for proving military service, or as a valuable tool in genealogical research.

Access to Military Records by the General Public
Limited information from Official Military Personnel Files is releasable to the general public without the consent of the veteran or the next-of-kin. Next-of-kin is defined as the unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran.

Response Time
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) normally responds in ten (10) working days or less. However, requests that involve reconstruction efforts
due to the 1973 fire or older records may take much longer (such as requests for your complete Official Military Personnel File).

Not all convictions can be expunged. Traffic convictions CANNOT be expunged (with the exception of first offense failure to stop for a blue light). Fish and Wildlife convictions CANNOT be expunged.

Records are usually free for veterans, next-of-kin, and authorized representatives. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as possible.

Required Information
Your request must contain certain basic information to locate your service records. This information includes:

  • The veteran’s complete name used while in service
  • Service number
  • Social security number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).
  • If you suspect your records may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include: Place of discharge; Last unit of assignment; Place of entry
    into the service, if known.
  • All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next-of-kin.
  • Recommended Information (optional)
    While this information is not required, it is extremely helpful in understanding and fulfilling your request:

  • State why you want the records.
  • Also state when you need to receive them
  • Any additional documents needed.
  • “Emergency” Requests and Deadlines
    If there is an emergency, please explain this in the “Purpose” section of the SF-180.

    If your request involves a burial in a National Cemetery, the cemetery staff will work to obtain the required records for the service.

    If your request involves funeral services provided by a non-VA/private provider, the next of kin may fax the request.

    Checking the Status of Your Request:
    Once you have allowed time to receive and process your request (about 10 days), you may check the status of your request by e-mail through the NPRC
    Customer Service Center at

    Please provide the request number, the name, address and phone number of the requester, and the veteran’s branch of service to aid in finding your

    You will receive a return e-mail with a projected completion date for your request.

    You may telephone the NPRC Customer Service Line: 314-801-0800.

    Where to send your request
    You can mail or fax your signed and dated request to the National Archives’s National Personnel Record Center (NPRC). Most, but not all records, are stored at the NPRC. Be sure to use the address specified
    by the instructions on the SF-180.

    NPRC Fax Number:

    NPRC Mailing Address:
    National Personnel Records Center
    Military Personnel Records
    9700 Page Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

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    Additional information may be found at:
    South Carolina’s guide to free legal resources

    This brochure was prepared by South Carolina Legal Services and is provided as a public service.
    Copyright retained by South Carolina Legal Services
    Printed January 2010


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