Sunday, 18 June 2006

Better English and Welsh Civil Registration Certificates

Most people purchase certificates for BMDs in England and Wales from the General Registry Office. There is a centralized system which started in mid-1837. You can look up events in the ever improving GRO index at FreeBMD, or search quarter by quarter on the index images at Once you find the reference you can order online from the GRO, and pay by credit card. The system works well -- I've used it often. Even if you don't know the reference you can ask them to do a search, for a price.

Another less used option is to order directly from the local record office covering the area in which the event was registered. You don't need the GRO index number, just the name and details as close as you can give them. Most of these offices don't have a system for ordering online -- so what's the advantage? In some cases, especially for marriages and for some locations, the certificate you receive will be a photocopy of the original which includes the original signatures. That's a more reliable record than a transcription which is what you get from the GRO. Find the addresses for the local offices here.

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