How to get a British Library Reader Pass

A man in a green hoodie sits on the floor with a large map

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 collection 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, quiet 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

If you’re under 18 you might find your school or local library is better equipped to serve your needs, but we do occasionally make an exception for younger visitors to see specific items that are unavailable in other libraries.

To apply if you’re under 18, 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.

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 easy steps: 

1. Register online

To speed up your application, you can register online before you visit.

You don't need to register online if: 

  • you’ve ever had a Reader Pass before. Come into the Library and we’ll issue you with a new Reader Pass
  • you’ve ever registered for an online service with the Library, like our WiFi, British Library On Demand service or Business and Management Portal. Instead, try to log in here using your existing details. You can then register to become a Reader from there
  • you’re not sure if you’ve already registered. Try to log in here first. You can also contact Customer Services on 01937 546060 or customer-services@bl.uk.

You 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. From 31 October 2022 there is no need to book an appointment to get your Reader Pass. 

2. Bring your ID to the Library at our London or Yorkshire sites

When you visit us to register for a Reader Pass, please bring with you either

  • a state-issued photo ID, printed with your photo, name and address (driving licence or national ID card)
    or
  • two separate documents, one showing your name and one showing your home address.
  

Extending or renewing your Reader Pass

Lost, forgotten, or need to renew your pass? No problem. Bring your ID to one of our sites and our team will issue you with a new pass. 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

See our opening times