How to get a British Library Reader Pass

Desks in a British Library reading room.
Desks in a British Library reading room.

Your British Library Reader Pass is a library card that gives you free access to our collections and Reading Rooms in London and Yorkshire.

Get your Reader Pass


What is a Reader Pass? 

Your British Library Reader Pass gives you free access to: 

  • our world-leading collections of digital and print books, journals, newspapers, maps and scores, electronic resources and databases, sound archive items, and archived websites  
  • the Reading Rooms themselves, calm study spaces with comfy chairs and free Wi-Fi where you can study even if you’re not using any collection items 

Once you have applied for a Reader Pass, and have an associated online account, you can order collection items ahead of your visit. These can be used in our Reading Rooms, but you can’t take them home, because many of the items are unique or rare. 


Is a British Library Reader Pass free? 

Yes, a British Library Reader Pass is free of charge. A Pass remains valid for three years for UK residents, and one year if you live overseas. 


Who can become a Reader at the British Library? 

Anyone over the age of 18 who wants to access our collection or Reading Rooms, and can visit the Library in person, can apply for a Reader Pass. Our users include academic researchers, undergraduate and postgraduate students and members of the public. Researching family history is an example of a very popular activity.   

Under-18 Readers

We don’t usually issue a British Library Reader Pass to those under the age of 18, but we occasionally make an exception for younger visitors to see specific items that are unavailable in other libraries.

To apply, complete the under-18 Reader Pass application form (PDF) and email it to Reader Registration at under18pass@bl.uk.

No one under 11 years old can visit the Reading Rooms. If you are under 18 you may find your school or public library better equipped to serve your needs.  

Non-UK residents 

If you live outside the UK you can get a Reader Pass, but your registration will need to renewed annually. Registration appointments can only be attended in person.


How do I get a Reader Pass?

Follow these three easy steps: 

1. Apply online, by completing our 15-minute online form

To speed up your application, you can apply online before you visit.
  • You’ll need an email account to get a Reader Pass. This is because we need to use your email address to set you up on our system.
  • If you’ve registered for another online service with the Library, there’s no need to register again. Simply login using your existing details and then pre-register to become a Reader.
  • If you’re not sure whether you’ve already registered, check which services need an online account, or contact Customer Services on 01937 546060 or customer-services@bl.uk.

2. Book a registration appointment at our London or Yorkshire site to avoid queues

You can book your Reader Pass registration appointment using our online Box Office. (If you do not already have one, you will need to create a Box Office account as part of the booking process.) You can book to attend either of our sites:

If you don’t book an appointment you may need to queue. After we’ve checked your documents, we’ll issue you with your Reader Pass.  

3. Bring two pieces of identification to the Library for your registration appointment

When you visit us to register for a Reader Pass, please bring with you two identification documents:

  • one showing proof of your home address (eg. utility bill, bank statement or payslip)
  • one showing your signature (eg. Passport or driving licence) 
  

Extending or renewing your Reader Pass

Lost, forgotten, or need to renew your pass? No problem. You will also need to book a registration appointment. Follow the same process and bring the same documents to your appointment. Find out more about extending or renewing your British Library Reader Pass.    


Contact Reader registration

London Reader Registration
T: +44(0)20 7412 7676
Reader-Registration@bl.uk

Yorkshire Reader Registration
T: +44(0)1937 546060
Reader-Services-Enquiries@bl.uk

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