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FAQ – Digitising and Destroying Records

Original Question:

I plan to digitise some paper records which we have had for some time but are still needed by staff for information. Do I need permission from PROV before I destroy the paper originals?

PROV’S Answer:

The rules for destruction of the original source record differ according to whether it has been scanned:

  • Pre-action: for example, as it arrives in the organisation as incoming correspondence so that the digitised record is treated as the master record and the source record is put aside; or
  • Post-action: the source record has been in active use and is scanned at some later point, for example a back-scanning project.

In all cases, the paper originals can only be destroyed if the scanning has been undertaken in accordance with PROV’s Digitisation Specifications located at and certain conditions have been met.

If the scanning is done post-action (as in the case outlined) and the records are of permanent value, a determination needs to be sought from PROV as to whether the paper source records should be transferred to PROV in addition to or instead of the digitised version.

This determination should be sought from PROV prior to the records being digitised, as it will alter how the records need to be handled. For example, if the paper originals must be transferred to PROV they will need to be maintained in their original order and condition.

Agencies must apply for this determination using PROV Form 43 Request for Determination of Required Transfer Format(s which is located at


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