General Register Office Birth and Death Index and Certificates Online
The General Register Office (GRO) has announced the start of a 3 month trial of offering digitised birth and death (not marriage) certificates for sale online with immediate download. The price is much reduced from the normal £9.25 for a paper copy of the certificate to a more reasonable £6. The press release notes that a digitised copy can’t be used for official purposes such as applying for a passport or drivers licence, but that doesn’t bother genealogists one jot. The GRO says they are running the trial to gauge demand for this service over a prolonged period, hopefully demand will be high and the service becomes standard with marriages also being included.
So now is the time to make a list of birth and death certificates that are essential to your research and start buying digitised copies online. I can see this new scheme prompting quite a lot of impulse buying by genealogists!
The GRO website is now the best place to use for searching the indexes for births and deaths (I assume that marriages will follow at some stage). If you only have a vague idea of when an event took place you might be better to use Ancestry or FindMyPast if you have a subscription or if not then FreeBMD, but if you know within 2 years either side then the GRO website is the best option. The GRO website is the only site where the mother’s maiden name is given on births indexes and age is given on death indexes from the start of registration in 1837. Until very recently the mothers maiden name was only included on the birth indexes from 1911 and the age at death on the death indexes from 1866. These extra snippets of information can make all the difference when trying to locate the right certificate.
How To Use The Indexes
So here is how you set about using these indexes.
Click on the green “Start Now” button
Click on the “Register/Log in” which is on the right hand side of the page near the top and if you haven’t already register fill in the form with the usual email address, user name etc. Don’t worry you won’t get bombarded with emails from them.
Having got your registration completed enter your user name and password. Click “Submit”’.
Click on “Search the GRO Index” on the top of the left hand column.
Chose Births of Deaths – no marriages, but I am sure they must be working on adding them in very soon.
Fill in the form as far as you know the details. You have to include Surname, Gender and Year, but the other details can be left blank. You can only search a 5 year time span so if you are undertaking a wide year range search then do remember to note down which years you have checked. Click “Search”.
Births can be search from 1837 – 1916 and show the usual name, quarter and year of registration, registration district and volume and page number. Plus now you have the mother’s maiden name which is so helpful in putting families together.
Deaths can be search 1837 – 1957 and show the usual name, quarter and year of registration, registration district and volume and page number. Plus now you have the age at death. Remember that all the details for a death certificate are given by another person and will often depend on what they have been told or think they know. I am sure there are many instances where a guess has been made when stating age !
Hope this helps you find you way through the GRO website. Do use the digitised service so that it becomes a permanent option for genealogists.
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