Frequently Asked Questions





1. About us

The General Register Office (GRO) is based in Southport, Merseyside and holds records for all births, deaths and marriages that have been registered in England and Wales from 1837.


2. Records available


Ordering via our online service

The following certificates can be ordered through our GRO on line ordering service –

  • Certificates for birth, death, marriage, civil partnership and adoption events registered in England and Wales and for certain British Nationals, who were born, married, formed a civil partnership or died overseas.
  • Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) alongside a certificate to translate specific fields in a registration certificate into the official language of an EU member country that is desired.
    Multi-lingual Standard Forms may not be recognised by EU Member States once the UK has left the EU. Individuals should contact relevant authorities in EU Member States to check whether they will accept MSFs post-Brexit.
  • Commemorative marriage certificates for silver, ruby, golden and diamond wedding anniversaries.
  • PDF's for historical digitised civil registration records held by GRO (birth entries from 1837 - 1918 and death entries from 1837 – 1957)

At the point of ordering you will be required to provide the GRO Index reference number for the certificate that you are interested in. The GRO online indexes should be used to try and identify the index reference for births between 1837-1919 and deaths between 1837-1957 or 1984-current year in England and Wales; alternative index sources include FreeBMD and the host sites (please refer to section 7 for more information). If you are unable to trace the record you can still apply for a certificate but there will be an additional administration charge if a GRO index reference is not provided.

You will be prompted to supply further details for more recent births and deaths (within the last 50 years) when you complete the online application form.

If you are unable to complete the mandatory fields, then you will not be able to apply online and you will need to follow our telephone ordering process. Please contact us on +44(0) 300 123 1837 for further information.

Ordering offline (by telephone or post) only

The following certificates are not available to order online and, as such, will not be subject to the telephone or postal certificate application fee.

  • Short or abridged versions of certificates (apart from short adoption certificates, which can be ordered online)
  • A presumed death certificate
  • A certificate from the Abandoned Children's Register
  • A certificate from the Parental Order Register and
  • A certificate from the Gender Recognition Registers
  • A MSF for the above
  • A MSF for a Certificate of No Impediment

If you require a copy of a short birth certificate, or if you require a certificate from the Abandoned Children’s Register or the Parental Order Register please contact us on +44(0) 300 123 1837 for further information. For certificates from the Gender Recognition Register, once the registration has been made, you will have been given a direct line to telephone the team or you can use the above number and be redirected.

Records we are not able to provide

GRO is not able to issue certificates for events that have taken place within the last six months (for marriages this period is extended to eighteen months) and you may wish to obtain a certificate from the register office or church where the event was registered. This information excludes adoption certificates, as the local register office does not hold a copy of the Adopted Children Register. If you require further information please call 0300 123 1837 to talk to our customer service team.


3. Price list for our services

Priority Service

Your certificate(s) will be despatched on the next working day from receipt of your application, if we receive it before 4pm. We will send your certificate(s) to you using 1st class postage. You also have the option to select Royal Mail Next Day Delivery, Royal Mail Saturday 9am or DHL Overseas Delivery.

 OnlinePhone or Post
Full certificate with a GRO index reference supplied*£35.00£39.00
Full certificate without a GRO index reference supplied
(if customer requires the GRO to index on their behalf a fee of £3.00 is charged)
£38.00£42.00
Additional copy of the same certificate at the same time£35.00£35.00

Standard Service

Your certificate(s) will be despatched on the fourth working day from receipt of your application (if a GRO index reference has been supplied), or the fifteenth working day (if a GRO index reference has not been supplied). We will send your certificate(s) to you using 2nd class postage. Where an MSF is required, these will be despatched on the fifteenth working day after all relevant documentation has been received.

 OnlinePhone or Post
Full certificate with a GRO index reference supplied£11.00£15.00
Full certificate without a GRO index reference supplied
(if customer requires the GRO to index on their behalf a fee of £3.00 is charged)
£14.00£18.00
Additional copy of the same certificate at the same time£11.00£11.00
Multilingual Standard Forms (MSF) - £11.00 for certificate, £11.00 for MSF
(plus an additional £4.00 if not applying online, and also £3.00 if the GRO index reference is not provided)
£22.00n/a
Multilingual Standard Forms of certificate of no impedimentn/a£11.00
PDF£7.00n/a
Commemorative Certificate with a GRO index reference supplied£35.00£39.00
Commemorative Certificate without a GRO index reference supplied£38.00£42.00


4. Our refund policy

Please note that we will retain a fee of £3.50, to cover administration costs incurred, if we are unable to find a record of the event you have requested. Any additional administration fees which you may have paid (if not applying using our online service or including a GRO index reference) are also non-refundable.


5. What to do if you have not received your certificate

Please allow at least 5 working days (working days exclude Saturday/Sunday/Bank Holidays) from the estimated date of despatch for delivery before you contact us or a minimum of 15 working days if you live overseas. We will not be able to take action if you contact us before these timescales. If you still haven’t received your certificate after this time, please use our online form to send us a message. When you submit this form it will generate an email to us with the details you have supplied. We will respond to your email within 5 working days.

Please note that you should report the non-receipt of a certificate within three months.


6. Using our online service

The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to order a certificate is to go online using the GRO’s secure online ordering service. The following document provides information on how to set up an account so that you will be able to start ordering from us online.

Setting up an online account   PDF Icon   Setting up an online account
PDF, 136KB, 1 page

The following document covers troubleshooting topics when making online applications.

Please refer to this guide before contacting the office should you experience an issue when setting up an account or making an order online.

Online ordering Troubleshooting   PDF Icon   Online ordering Troubleshooting
PDF, 175KB, 2 pages


7. Understanding the GRO index reference number

The following document provides information on the GRO index reference number and where you can find it. This will help you when making an application and if you wish to carry out your family history research.

The GRO Index Reference Number   PDF Icon   The GRO Index Reference Number
PDF, 197KB, 3 pages


8. The GRO online indexes

A number of GRO birth and death indexes are freely available to search online. These cover birth records from 1837 to 1918 and death records from 1837 to 1957 and from 1984- current year. The following documents provide an overview and guide to using these indexes.

GRO is currently working on a rolling programme to put all of its indexes online. We will notify you via our website when new indexes are added.

PDF Icon   PDF Icon   GRO online historical birth and death indexes overview
PDF, 55KB, 4 pages


9. Certificate types

The following documents provide guidance on what you will see on a certificate, what records are available and how to order them

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates   PDF Icon   Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates
PDF, 149KB, 1 page
[What you will see on the certificate]

Overseas Records   PDF Icon   Overseas Records
PDF, 167KB, 3 pages
[Records available and how to apply for them]

Adoption Certificates   PDF Icon   Adoption Certificates
PDF, 175KB, 2 pages
[Records available and how to apply for them]

Civil Partnership Certificates   PDF Icon   Civil Partnership Certificates
PDF, 96KB, 1 page
[How to apply]


10. Other services we provide

PDF

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present and exchange documents reliably and in a manner that is independent of user's software, hardware, or operating system. PDF’s are available for historical digitised civil registration records held by GRO (birth entries from 1837 - 1918 and death entries from 1837 - 1957). Orders for a PDF copy of a registration record must be made via our online ordering site; this service is not available via telephone or postal applications. The following document provides information on how to order a PDF, what information you will require and what a PDF copy of a registration record will look like.

PDF   PDF Icon   PDF
PDF, 289KB, 4 pages

Multilingual Standard Form (MSF)

Multi-lingual Standard Forms may not be recognised by EU Member States once the UK has left the EU. Individuals should contact relevant authorities in EU Member States to check whether they will accept MSFs post-Brexit.

An MSF will translate specified fields from your certificate of a civil registration record held or issued by the Registrar General for England & Wales and for Certificates of No Impediments (CONI’s) (issued by a Superintendent Registrar employed by local authorities) into the official EU language that you require.

Multilingual Standard Form (MSF)   PDF Icon   Multilingual Standard Form (MSF)
PDF, 233KB, 3 pages

Commemorative Marriage Certificate

Commemorative marriage certificates feature the original marriage details and are mounted within a presentation box. You can order special commemorative certificates for Silver (25th), Ruby (40th), Golden (50th) and Diamond (60th) wedding anniversaries as gifts or keepsakes.

Commemorative Marriage Certificate   PDF Icon   Commemorative Marriage Certificate
PDF, 97KB, 1 page


11. What to do if you are not happy with the certificate you have received or the service we have provided

Use our online form to send us a message. When you submit this form it will generate an email to us with the details you have supplied. We will respond to your email within 5 working days.
Please note that any problems with your order must be reported to GRO within three months.

Home > Online Ordering