BIRTH, MARRIAGE & DEATH
CERTIFICATES

(General Register Office for England & Wales)

The General Register Office (GRO) for England and Wales is part of the UK Government's Office for National Statistics (ONS). Birth, Marriage and Death certificates (for England & Wales only) may be ordered in person at The Family Records Centre, London.

In England & Wales the Birth, Marriage and Death registers are NOT open to public inspection. The public may only search the GRO or local register offices Birth, Marriage and Death indexes.

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates can be supplied from the following GRO registers -


Civil Registration

Registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced in England and Wales on 1st July 1837 and a certified copy of an entry in the register (a certificate) is available.

Until 1875, when it became compulsory, there was no penalty levied against parents who failed to register their babies births. The onus was placed upon the local registrar to seek registrations for which he was paid a sum per entry. This led to some cases of fraudulent entries!

Before 1912, the surname of the spouse does not appear in the marriage indexes, and the maiden surname of the mother does not appear in the birth indexes. Ages at death did not appear until 1865, and was replaced by date of birth from 1984.

Civil registration in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire are separate registration systems and certificates for these countries are not available from the ONS.


Births & Deaths at Sea (Marine Register Book).

These returns commenced on 1st July 1837 and relate to births and deaths occurring at sea on any ship registered in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Births & Deaths in Aircraft (Air Register Book)

These returns commenced in 1949 and relate to births and deaths occurring in any part of the world in any aircraft registered in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Births, Marriages & Deaths H.M. Forces

These relate to births, marriages and deaths among members of H.M. Forces and certain other persons working for or attached to H.M. Forces. Entries in the Army Registers date mainly from 1881, although some records extend as far back as 1761. Royal Air Force Returns commenced in 1920 and Royal Navy Returns commenced in 1959.


Consular & High Commission Returns

These relate to births, marriages and deaths of British subjects in most foreign countries registered by British Consuls from 1 July 1849, and births, marriages and deaths of British subjects in most Commonwealth countries registered by British High Commissions.


Miscellaneous Records

These include births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials, in a large series of Miscellaneous Records (including certain Regimental Registers). Other records include certificates of marriage forwarded by the British High Commissioners in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana from 1950 and foreign certificates of marriage forwarded by British Consuls; separate registers containing the registration of deaths of Servicemen in World Wars I and II; births and deaths aboard British registered hovercraft and deaths occurring on off-shore installations (i.e. oil rigs).

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Copyright 2005 John Hitchcock. All rights reserved.