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Extended PDF Pilot: About the Pilot


  Q1. What is a PDF?
  Q2. What records are available as a PDF?
  Q3. What will the PDF look like?
  Q4. Is a PDF the same as a certificate and can I use a PDF as evidence for official purposes, such as a passport application, or if giving notice of marriage etc.?
  Q5. Does the pilot cover Forces or Overseas Records?
  Q6. Does the pilot cover Adoption Records?
  Q7. How long will the pilot last?
  Q8. How did you arrive at the fee of £6.00 for PDFs of digitised records?
  Q9. When should I expect to receive my PDF?
  Q10. Why has it taken so long to reintroduce the PDF service?
  Q11. Why are modern records not available as PDFs?
  Q12. Why aren't modern indexes available yet?
  Q13. Are the PDFs subject to any copyright?
  Q14. Do you have any plans to make historical registration records instantly viewable online, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
  Q15. Why can't I get a PDF from the registration service locally?
  Q16. How do I provide feedback on the PDF service?

Extended PDF Pilot: Ordering Information


  Q17. How do I order a PDF?
  Q18. What information do I need to apply online?
  Q19. I do not have the GRO historical index reference - can I still apply for a PDF during the extended PDF pilot?
  Q20. How will I receive my PDF?
  Q21. What should I do if I am not able to view my PDF?
  Q22. What should I do if I have not received my PDF order (all or part of)?
  Q23. Will I receive a refund if a PDF order is despatched late?
  Q24. What should I do if I have received a PDF that does not match the record you have ordered?
  Q25. Can I order a certificate and PDF for a particular record at the same time?
  Q26. Can I amend or cancel my PDF application?

Extended PDF Pilot: Next Steps


  Q27. When will this service become permanent?
  Q28. Will people still be able to order a certificate?
  Q29. When will you be adding more products?




Extended PDF Pilot: About the Pilot


Background


The General Register Office (GRO) is looking at different ways of providing civil registration services to our customers and as part of that it has looked to test the customer demand for providing records in a format other than a paper copy, via a Portable Document Format [PDF]. The GRO ran a pilot in three distinct phases between 9th November 2016 and 12 April 2017. It has been decided that the first phase of the Pilot will be extended from 12th October 2017, offering customers the ability to order a PDF copy of a historic birth or death record for a fee of £6.00. The intention is to run this extended pilot over a minimum of three months, which will help the GRO better understand the level of demand for such a service.

Q1. What is a 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 was developed by Adobe in the early 1990s and is now an open standard that is maintained by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

Q2. What records are available as a PDF?

The extended Pilot covers PDF copies of those historical digitised civil registration records held by GRO (i.e. birth entries from 1837 - 1916 and death entries from 1837 - 1957). A GRO index reference is required to be provided with the application. You can find the GRO index references by logging on to the GRO online ordering service and accessing the GRO online indexes. A PDF will cost £6.00 each.

Q3. What will the PDF look like?

The PDF image is an extract from the historical record of the event. It will contain the same information that is present in a certificate apart from the official crest and signature of issuing authority. The image may contain some imperfections as the records date from 1837. A PDF will have no "evidential" value, and therefore a paper certified copy [certificate] is required for official purposes, e.g. if applying for a passport, driving licence, or where required to give notice of marriage.

An example of a PDF image is shown below.

Example PDF

Q4. Is a PDF the same as a certificate and can I use a PDF as evidence for official purposes, such as a passport application, or if giving notice of marriage etc.?

No. A PDF is not a certificate. A PDF will have no "evidential" value, and therefore a paper certified copy [certificate] is required for official purposes, e.g. if applying for a passport, driving licence, or where required to give notice of marriage.

Q5. Does the pilot cover Forces or Overseas Records?

No. The legal powers being used to make births and deaths available in PDF format do not extend to overseas and forces registrations.

Q6. Does the pilot cover Adoption Records?

No. The legal powers being used do not extend to adoption records.

Q7. How long will the pilot last?

The extended PDF pilot is due to run from October 2017 for a minimum of 3 months.

Q8. How did you arrive at the fee of £6.00 for PDFs of digitised records?

All our fees are set at levels to recover the costs of providing the service in line with Her Majesty's Treasury guidance. The cost reflects the resources required to provide this service.

Q9. When should I expect to receive my PDF?

The aim of the extended pilot is to provide the PDF within 5 working days from the date of the order, if it has been received before 4pm.

Q10. Why has it taken so long to reintroduce the PDF service?

Following completion of the three phase pilot, full and detailed analysis was conducted on the outcomes of the phases. From the analysis it has been decided that impacts on other General Register Office services and those provided by the Local Registration Service requires further analysis over a longer period and that is why we are extending the pilot. We have also taken the opportunity to make changes to the delivery method for a PDF based on some of that feedback.

Q11. Why are modern records not available as PDFs?

We are still working through the issues of making modern records available online and we have decided to remove them for the extended pilot.

Q12. Why aren't modern indexes available yet?

If GRO were to make modern indexes available, considerations would need to be given to public protection, customer service and technical capabilities. There are currently no plans to make modern indexes available.

Q13. Are the PDFs subject to any copyright?

They are covered by Crown Copyright and whilst it is an offence to make a copy of a certificate and pass it off as the original certificate you are welcome to copy, publish or use the information they contain including in the form of a PDF.

However, if they contain information relating to living individuals then the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998 will apply. You should bear that in mind if you were to (for example) publish or display a copy of the image you have received from us if it contained information about living individuals, as you would need their permission to do so.

Q14. Do you have any plans to make historical registration records instantly viewable online, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Searchable historical indexes showing GRO references are online. However there are no current plans to make historical registration records instantly viewable online like The National Records of Scotland or GRO Northern Ireland.

Q15. Why can't I get a PDF from the registration service locally?

Any amendments to include local records would mean a change to primary legislation and there are no plans for this.

Q16. How do I provide feedback on the PDF service?

When your PDF order has been uploaded to your online ordering account history you will receive an email notification. A link to a short survey will be enclosed for you to provide your valuable feedback.


Extended PDF Pilot: Ordering Information


Q17. How do I order a PDF?

An order for a PDF copy of a registration record must be made via our online ordering site. Please note that this service is not available via telephone or postal applications. The PDF product is selectable under the "service option" on the order page for an England & Wales birth event for the years 1837 - 1916 and death events for the years 1837 - 1957.

Q18. What information do I need to apply online?

You will need to provide the full GRO index reference number for the record that you are interested in (see Q19), you will be prompted to supply details of the event as you complete the online application form.

Q19. I do not have the GRO historical index reference - can I still apply for a PDF during the extended PDF pilot?

No. For the extended PDF pilot you must provide a GRO historical index reference. You can find the GRO historical index references by logging on and accessing the GRO online indexes.

Q20. How will I receive my PDF?

You will be sent an email notification to inform you that your PDF image is ready to view and download. You will need to log on to your ordering account and you will find a link to your PDF in your order history. At this point you can view your image by clicking onto the "View PDF" button.

PDFs will remain available to view for a period of 3 months from the point of ordering, after which it will be removed. You will not receive a reminder prior to deletion.

Q21. What should I do if I am not able to view my PDF?

PDFs can be viewed using Acrobat Reader software which is available as a free download for a number of devices such as PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. If you do not currently have this program installed on your device you should type 'adobe acrobat reader' into your search engine and then follow the instructions provided to download it.

If you have Acrobat Reader on your device and are still not able to view your PDF you should contact us by:

  • Completing our Online Customer Contact Form by clicking on the link and selecting the 'other issues and feedback' option. Please ensure that you have your COL number available.
  • Telephoning on 0300 123 1837 [Monday to Friday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm]
Q22. What should I do if I have not received my PDF order (all or part of)?

If you have not received any of your order, within 5 working days, you should contact us by:

  • Completing our Online Customer Contact Form by clicking on the link and selecting the 'other issues and feedback' option. Please ensure that you have your COL number available.
  • Telephoning on 0300 123 1837 [Monday to Friday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm]
Q23. Will I receive a refund if a PDF order is despatched late?

No. Whilst we endeavour to process applications within target, this is only a service aim.

Q24. What should I do if I have received a PDF that does not match the record you have ordered?

If you receive a PDF that does not match to your order:

  • Completing our Online Customer Contact Form by clicking on the link and selecting the 'other issues and feedback' option. Please ensure that you have your COL number available.
  • Telephoning on 0300 123 1837 [Monday to Friday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm]
Q25. Can I order a certificate and PDF for a particular record at the same time?

No. You will need to make a separate application for a certificate of the same entry.

Q26. Can I amend or cancel my PDF application?

You will not be able to amend or cancel your online PDF application once it has been submitted.


Extended PDF Pilot: Next Steps


Q27. When will this service become permanent?

Once the extended PDF pilot is over we will be analysing the results to inform future service provision. It is not possible at this point to provide a timescale.

Q28. Will people still be able to order a certificate?

Yes. Certificates will continue to be available as they are now.

Q29. When will you be adding more products?

We are committed to running the extended PDF Pilot for a minimum of 3 months and analysing the extension to inform potential future products and services.

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