Here are some practical tips on how to keep records safe and secure when they are in transit.

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Why move records?

You may need to move records for a number of reasons. These include:

  • taking records offsite for business reasons
  • transferring records to court
  • moving records between storage locations, e.g. in-house to commercial secondary storage
  • transferring records required as State archives to archival storage in your public office
  • moving inactive records ready for destruction to the place where they will be destroyed.

You may need to move records as a result of other occurrences. If so, additional issues will need to be considered:

If you are.. then refer to..
Outsourcing business functions Accountable Outsourcing: Recordkeeping considerations of contracting out Government business
Receiving or losing a business function/s Managing Records in Administrative Change
Privatising business functions Privatising public offices: What about the records?
Moving premises Help! We're moving
Transferring State archives to State Records Procedures on transferring custody of records as State archives
Destroying State records Destruction of records
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Recordkeeping tips

When records are in transit they are more vulnerable to loss, damage or theft. Security precautions should be taken to minimise these risks. If you use contractors or couriers to move records, you need to make sure you include security and confidentiality requirements in the contract.

General guidance on recordkeeping is given below.  There are likely to be other recordkeeping issues specific to your circumstances.

  • Update records control systems to show the new location of the records.
  • If records are being destroyed, document this in your records control system.
  • Make sure that records are delivered directly to a named individual.
  • Make sure that a receipt of delivery is signed off by the named individual or another appropriate, delegated individual.
  • Check that records have reached their destination.
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Records should be enclosed in suitable padding or containers to prevent or minimise damage in transit:

  • If you are moving files or documents, pack them in sturdy envelopes or satchels.
  • If you are moving electronic disks, pack them in bubble wrap or a disk container before placing them in an envelope or satchel.
  • If you are moving large quantities of records, pack them in boxes or other appropriate containers.
    Note: Make sure that you have a list of the contents of each box. If you have records management software, this can be generated automatically.

Contact mail or courier service providers for more information regarding the best packaging options and costs.

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If records are being delivered to another location, make sure they can be easily identified and that they won't get lost.

Label each box or envelope clearly. The records should be sent to a named individual and delivered directly to the person to whom they are addressed. For more security, they should be signed for on receipt.

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This section covers the transportation of records by mail and by vehicle.

Mail services

There are various options if records are to be mailed, such as:

  • registered mail
  • certified mail
  • day/overnight couriers.

The choice of a service is a risk-based decision balancing security requirements and costs. Things to consider when selecting the service include:

  • Will the records be protected from damage, unauthorised access or theft?
  • Is the level of security offered appropriate to the degree of importance, sensitivity or confidentiality of the records?
  • Does the mail provider offer 'track and trace' options and is a signature required on delivery?

Vehicles for transfer

When large quantities of records are being moved, make arrangements for suitable vehicles. To ensure adequate security and to protect records against weather, light, pollution and other dangers, vehicles must be:

  • covered
  • locked
  • attended at all times
  • not used for transporting other materials, such as chemicals, that may cause risks to records.
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Records should be carefully handled at all times, particularly during loading and unloading. If you are moving large quantities of records, use secure docks so that records can be loaded and unloaded without risk of theft or damage from the elements. Records should never be left unattended, even temporarily, on pavements or in front of buildings.

If the records are of a sensitive nature and the premises at either the dispatch or delivery point are shared, try to make arrangements for exclusive use of dock facilities during transfers. If this is not possible, make sure that the records are not left unattended.

Tips to remember for the safe and secure handling of records:

  • No-one should eat, drink or smoke near the records.
  • Boxes and envelopes should never be opened or records examined without authorisation from the relevant authority in the public office.
  • Records should never be thrown or treated roughly.
  • Records should be packed carefully into vehicles to minimise movement and possible damage during transit.
  • Records should never be left in unsecured areas.
  • Records should never be left in unlocked vehicles.
  • Any damage should be reported to the responsible officer in the public office.
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Moving records in wet weather

Moving records in wet weather should be avoided but if this is not possible you need to consider the following:

  • If you can't guarantee that the records will stay dry, then don't move them! If records do get wet, they are very expensive to dry and repair.
  • Don't indemnify contractors or couriers who are moving your organisation's records.  If the records are damaged in transit, then the contractor or courier will need to reimburse your organisation for any repairs that are required.
  • Records should always be enclosed in suitable padding or containers to prevent or minimise damage in transit, and to protect them from rain and wet weather.
  • If you are moving a large quantity of records and need to store them prior to transit, make sure you leave them in a secure location.  Don't leave records out on the pavement waiting for collection or in a corridor or in a public area.
  • Make sure each box or container is labelled.
  • Records should only be moved from one location to another in a suitable vehicle. Don't move records in a truck that is not covered or secure.
  • Don't leave records sitting outside buildings on wet or potentially rainy days.

Published 2000 / Revised 2012

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Recordkeeping Advice