The National Archives has passenger arrival records for entries to the United States from foreign ports between approximately 1820 and December 1982 (with gaps). The records are arranged by port or airport of arrival. Passenger arrival records may provide researchers with information such as: nationality and place of birth; ship name and date of entry to the United States; age, height, eye and hair color; profession; place of last residence; name and address of relatives they are joining in the United States; amount of money they are carrying; etc.
Passenger arrival and departure records dated post 1957 were filmed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the original paper records were not retained. The accessioned microfilm reels, now in the custody of the National Archives in Washington, DC, are the record copies of the original paper records which no longer exist. Unfortunately, due to the fragile nature of the original camera negative film, access to the microfilm is limited until it can be transferred to a more suitable format. The National Archives is in the process of transferring the microfilm to a digital format, and all digitized copies will eventually be available online via the National Archives Catalog.
Arrival records are restricted due to personally identifiable information for 75 years, and must be requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request during the restricted period.
Please note: All requests for passenger arrival records dated post 1957 must include the full name of the passenger; exact day/month/year of arrival; port or airport of arrival; vessel or airline name; and for airport arrivals, the flight number.
Records older than 75 years are publicly available, and many have been digitized by National Archives partners. See our list of all the digitized records available on our partners' websites.
Please note: FamilySearch.org is a free site. Ancestry and Fold3 are both subscription services that allow free searches of some or all index terms for each title. Free access to Ancestry.com and Fold3.com is available in all research rooms at the National Archives, including those in our field locations and Presidential Libraries. Microfilm publications digitized by our partners as part of our digitization partnership agreements will eventually be free online in the National Archives Catalog.
Documentation for arrivals December 1982 and after are held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Additionally, most immigrants admitted since May 1, 1951 should be documented in an Alien File (A-File). The USCIS arrival records and A-Files are available through the USCIS Freedom of Information Act Program (FOIA).
For more information about passenger arrival records please visit: https://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/passenger-arrival.html
Various NARA microfilm publications reproduce passenger arrival records and/or vessel crew lists from the water or land borders from 1800-1982. Discover what records have been digitized and are available for online use. To browse by port please visit: https://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/ports