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 National Register Bulletin How to Complete the National Register Registration Form

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service




The National Register is the official Federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. National Register properties have significance to the prehistory or history of their community, State, or the Nation. The register is administered by the National Park Service. Nominations for listing historic properties come from State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) and, for properties owned or controlled by the United States Government, Federal Preservation Officers (FPOs). Properties are also determined eligible for listing at the request of SHPOs and Federal agencies. While SHPOs and FPOs nominate properties for National Register listing, private individuals and organizations, local governments, and American Indian tribes often initiate the process and prepare the necessary documentation. A professional review board in each State considers each property proposed for listing and makes a recommendation on its eligibility. Communities having a certified local historic preservation program, called Certified Local Governments (CLGs), also make recommendations to the SHPO on the eligibility of properties within their community.


Properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places possess historic significance and integrity. Significance may be found in four aspects of American history recognized by the National Register Criteria:

  • Association with historic events or activities,

  • Association with important persons,

  • Distinctive design or physical characteristics, or

  • Potential to provide important information about prehistory or history.

A property must meet at least one of the criteria for listing. Integrity must also be evident through historic qualities including location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

Generally properties must be fifty years of age or more to be considered historic places. They must also be significant when evaluated in relationship to major trends of history in their community, State, or the nation. Information about historic properties and trends is organized, by theme, place, and time, into historic contexts that can be used to weigh the historic significance and integrity of a property.


This bulletin contains instructions for completing the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (NPS 10-900). Registration forms and continuation sheets (NPS 10-900-a) are available from State historic preservation offices, Federal preservation offices, and the National Park Service.

The National Register Registration Form is used to document historic properties for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. It is also used to document properties for determinations of eligibility for listing.

One registration form is completed for each entry in the National Register. The entry may be a single property, such as a historic house or bridge, or it may be a historic district containing many buildings, structures, sites, and objects. Registration forms may be submitted separately or may be grouped within multiple property submissions.

Information on the National Register form has several purposes:

  • Identifies and locates the historic property,

  • Explains how it meets one or more of the National Register criteria, and

  • Makes the case for historic significance and integrity.

The registration form must show that the property meets one of the four criteria. Even if a property appears to qualify under several criteria, only one needs to be documented for listing.

National Register documentation assists in preserving historic properties by documenting their significance and by identifying the historic characteristics that give a property historic significance and integrity. This information can be used in educating the public about significant historic properties and their preservation.

Once a property has been listed in the National Register, documentation, in the form of written records and a computerized data base called the National Register Information System (NRIS), becomes part of a national archive of information about significant historic properties in the United States.


Any person or organization may prepare a National Register nomination. This includes property owners, public agencies, private institutions, local historical societies, local preservation commissions, local planning offices, social or merchant organizations, professional consultants, college professors and their students, special interest groups, or interested members of the general public.

Applicants submit completed forms to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) in the State where the property is located. Forms for properties owned by the Federal government are submitted to the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) of the agency responsible for the property.

Anyone interested in having a property nominated to the National Register should contact the SHPO or FPO to learn how nominations are processed and how to get started. The SHPO can also inform applicants if their community is a Certified Local Government (CLG), which also has a role in nominating properties to the National Register.

Persons researching a historic property for the first time may wish to consult National Register Bulletin 39: Researching a Historic Property, which provides helpful hints and sources for documenting historic houses, commercial buildings, churches, and public buildings. Guidance on deciding whether a property has historic significance and integrity can be found in National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. A sample of a completed registration form is included in this bulletin.

Additional National Register bulletins, which provide guidance on nominating specific types of properties, are listed in Appendix X and are available from the SHPO, FPO, or the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, Interagency Resources Division, U.S. Department of the Interior, Post Office Box 37127, Washington, DC 20240.


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