Guidelines on records management in the Government

Manuals, guidelines and circulars on records management

The Government Records Service (GRS) has a range of publications to help bureaux and departments (B/Ds) manage their records :


Note: The manuals, guidelines and circulars shown below may contain hyperlinks to the Intranet of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which are accessible only by government officers for reference purpose only. Such hyperlinks may not be applicable to Internet users.


1. General Circulars (“GC”)

  • GC No. 1/2001 – Establishment of the Central Preservation Library for Government Publications

    This circular announces the reorganisation of Reference Library of the Public Records Office, Government Records Service Division of the Administration Wing of the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office as the Central Preservation Library for Government Publications. To help develop and preserve the collections of the Library, B/Ds are requested to forward one copy of their new publication/printed material to the Library for selection. B/Ds should also consult the Library when they want to dispose of any of their library material.

  • GC No. 5/2006 – Management of Government Records

    This circular reminds heads of B/Ds the importance of proper management of government records and draws their attention to good records management practices.

  • GC No. 2/2009 – Mandatory Records Management Requirements

    This circular sets out mandatory requirements on the management of government records. It should be read in conjunction with GC No. 5/2006 entitled “Management of Government Records” which contains comprehensive advice on good records management.

  • GC No. 5/2012 – Records Management Reviews

    This circular sets out the framework for reviewing the records management practices in B/Ds and the details of departmental records management reviews to be conducted by the GRS.


2. Administration Wing Circular Memoranda (“CM”)


3. Guidelines

  • Good Records Management Practices

    By setting out the principles and good practices relating to records management, and providing checklist and guidelines, this document aims to help public organisations and their staff to assess the way in which they are managing their records and to pursue improvements if necessary.

  • Guideline cum Checklist for Review of Records Retention and Disposal Schedules (English version only)

    This document provides guidance to facilitate B/Ds to review their disposal schedules in a focused and comprehensive manner, taking into account all relevant factors.

  • Guidelines for Managing Records in a Hybrid Environment (English version only)

    The guidelines aim to prescribe the relevant policy, principles, requirements and best practices for records management functions and activities from capture, classification and organisation, search and retrieval, use, retention and disposal, to preservation of records to ensure government records, regardless of their forms and media, are managed properly and effectively in a hybrid records management environment. This document focuses primarily on a hybrid environment where an electronic recordkeeping system (ERKS) has not been implemented and/or fully operational in a B/D.

  • Guidelines for Transferring Records to Public Records Office of GRS for Appraisal (English version only)

    These guidelines set out the requirements for B/Ds in preparing the records to be transferred to Public Records Office (PRO) of GRS for appraisal.

  • Guidelines for Transferring Records to Public Records Office of GRS for Permanent Retention (English version only)

    These guidelines set out the requirements for B/Ds in preparing the records to be transferred to PRO of GRS for permanent retention according to the disposal action in the Records Retention and Disposal Authority (i.e. “PP” – Permanent Retention in PRO) approved by GRS Director.

  • Guidelines for Transferring Records to Records Centre (Chinese version only)

    This document sets out the important procedures for B/Ds in preparing the inactive records to be transferred to the Records Centres of GRS for intermediate storage.

  • Guidelines on Bulk Relocation of Government Records (English version only)

    This document provides advice on procedures to be adopted by B/Ds during a relocation exercise.

  • Guidelines on Creation and Collection of Records (English version only)

    The Records Management Manual sets out the good practices on creation and collection of records and provides some examples of what records should be created and kept. This document provides further guidelines to facilitate B/Ds to adopt the relevant good practices.

  • Guidelines on Filing Practices (Chinese version only)

    This document provides guidelines on the filing processes including receipt, classification and retrieval, processing, distribution and storage and some general practices in handling records.

  • Guidelines on the Implementation of the Standard Classification Scheme for Administrative Records (English version only)

    This document provides guidelines on the implementation of the standard classification scheme for administrative records in B/Ds.

  • Implementation Plan cum Guidance Notes on Dissemination of Information about Disposal of Records of Bureaux/Departments (English version only)

    To enhance accountability and transparency, the information of records approved for destruction in all B/Ds in the previous year will be published on an annual basis from 2016 onwards. This document sets out the implementation plan and guidance notes on the dissemination of destruction information for B/Ds' reference.

  • Procedures of Requisitioning of Archival Records from the Public Records Office (English version only)

    This document sets out the procedures of special arrangement for requisitioning of archival records by records transferring B/Ds, they include on-site inspection of archival records at the Hong Kong Public Records Building (HKPRB) and overnight loan of archival records involving removal of archival records from the archival repositories.

  • Records Management Manual

    The manual provides guidance and instructions for proper and coordinated management of government records. It prescribes the code of practices required for the establishment of a comprehensive records management programme in B/Ds.


4. Standards and Guidelines for Electronic Records Management


5. Records Management Publications

  • Publication No. 1: A Practical Guide To Records Scheduling And Disposal (English version only)

    This guide aims to assist B/Ds in establishing an efficient and effective records disposal programme by providing (i) guidance and techniques for conducting systematic and consistent disposal of general administrative records and programme records; (ii) guidance and procedures for using the services of the Records Centre operated by GRS; and (iii) guidance and procedures for disposing of time-expired records.

  • Publication No. 2: Managing Active Records: File Management (English version only)

    This publication sets out how records in their active stage are managed, especially the records type known to us as files. It provides detailed discussion and description with regard to the management principles, practices, procedures and guidelines of active files.

  • Publication No. 3: Subject Filing (English version only)

    This publication gives an intensive treatment of the management of "Subject Files" which is known to be the most critical and pervasive task for all records and information managers. It also provides some practical guidelines on developing a filing and classification plan for this type of records.

  • Publication No. 4: General Administrative Records Disposal Schedules (GARDS) (English version only)

    The General Administrative Records Disposal Schedules (GARDS) are standard disposal schedules developed by the Government Records Service to regulate the retention and disposal of administrative records in government B/Ds.

  • Publication No. 5: The Microfilming User Manual (English version only)

    This manual is for government B/Ds to follow in considering and carrying out microfilming operations. It provides an overview of basic microfilming operation; explains the criteria of selecting records for microfilming; provides guidelines and standards for microfilming records; defines the general procedures to be followed by B/Ds in microfilm production; introduces the microfilm services provided by the Government Microfilm Centre of GRS and the procedures in using its services; and provides guidelines for the storage, handling and use of microfilm records and the selection of retrieval equipment.

  • Publication No. 6: Manual on Vital Records Protection (English version only)

    This manual defines what vital records are, explains the importance of vital records protection, identifies common hazards to records, provides guidelines to the selection of vital records and choice of appropriate protection methods, and enumerates the steps in establishing a vital records protection programme.

  • Publication No. 7: Topical Guide Cum Checklists for Proper Records Management Practices (English version only)

    This publication is to assist B/Ds in assessing the effectiveness of their records management programme, identifying major problems and setting priorities for improvements. It also provides an overview of the basic components of a comprehensive records management programme. Staff with records management responsibilities may use it as a tool for planning, conducting and evaluating records management activities in their B/Ds.


6. Government Records Service's Memoranda