28 August 2009

Your GRO certificate cost

Curious about the cost of your GRO birth, marriage and death certificates? The following is based on a response to a Freedom of Information request.

If the entry applied for is on a digitised record - the GRO system will automatically match it to the correct image. Only historic Births (1837-1934) and death records (1837-1957) have been digitised.

All other events are on microfilm tapes. The tape containing the entry is manually pulled, an operator uses a scanner to locate the correct entry. Once the image has been located the operator uses Cosmographic software to enhance the image and mask it off for print. Once produced the certificate is sent to despatch were a member of staff folds and places the certificate in a C5 envelope to be posted.

If a certificate can not be located refunds are manually processed by a member of staff.

Producing a certificate, when the customer has provided the correct GRO reference on the application form, takes 10 minutes.

The cost of service is: £1.08 for labour, 0.4p for the certificate paper, 3p per envelope, and 30p mailing. The total is about £1.50. Presumably overhead for administration, accommodation and extras might double that, say £3 per certificate issued.

That leaves a nice £4 surplus. During 2006-2007, 2,052,109 certificates were despatched, meaning more than £8m surplus for the Treasury.

Access the original response to the FOI request here.

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