Aliens (foreign citizens)

This is a brief guide to our archives of alien registration records.

What do I need before I start?

Try to find out:

  • name of the person
  • their nationality
  • approximate year of birth
  • approximately what year they arrived in the UK
  • where in the UK they arrived


What records can I find in The Mitchell: Glasgow City Archives?

The requirement for aliens to register with the police was introduced under the provisions of the Aliens Registration Act 1914; and it was renewed by the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 and the Immigration Act 1971.

Glasgow City Archives holds the historical records of Strathclyde Police and its predecessor forces. Statistics were published in the City of Glasgow Police Chief Constable’s annual reports from 1938 onwards and early immigrants from Russia, mainland Europe, America, Scandinavia and Egypt are recorded as having registered with the Aliens Registration Department. Later statistics demonstrate the growth in immigrants from further afield travelling to Strathclyde from Africa, Asia and South America.

Few alien registration records survive but where they do, these are:

  • Argyll County Constabulary alien registration and transfer cards, 1917-1975 (Ref: SR22/91/73)
  • City of Glasgow Police Nationality Branch, register of aliens, 1962-1975 (Ref: SR22/63/25)

The alien registration records may include:

  • name
  • nationality
  • date of birth
  • address, sometimes including address of last residence outside the UK
  • date and place of arrival in UK
  • profession / occupation
  • marital status
  • place of birth
  • conditions of landing
  • occasional photographs

Staff can search a computerised index of the Argyll alien registration and transfer cards on your behalf.

The alien records are closed for 75 years under data protection legislation.

During World War 1 aliens resident in Britain and belonging to allied nations had either to return to their own country to undertake military service or become liable to serve in the British forces, unless they were granted a certificate of exemption by their home country ambassador or a tribunal. The City of Glasgow Town Clerk’s Department was granted authority from the War Office to hear tribunals of those who applied for exemption from military service. Only one list of around 130 Russian tribunal applicants survives dating from 1917 (Ref: D-TC19/box3).

Information given in these records includes:

  • name of applicant
  • address of applicant
  • reference number


What records can I see online?

These records are not available online.


What records can I see elsewhere?

UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 are available online via Ancestry.

UK, Alien Entry Books, 1794-1921, are available online via Ancestry.


What other resources will help me find information?

Roger Kershaw and Mark Pearsall, Immigrants and Aliens: A guide to sources on UK immigration and citizenship, (2000).



Glasgow City Archives

0141 287 2910

In this guide