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Most Customers want to Know: PDF pilot phase 3


  Q1. Why do you need to carry out a pilot for PDF copies?
  Q2. Which records does the PDF pilot cover?
  Q3. What is a PDF and if I provide a GRO index reference is it immediately viewable online?
  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. Do you have any plans to make historic records viewable online, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
  Q6. Does the pilot cover Forces or Overseas Records?
  Q7. Does the pilot cover Adoption Records?
  Q8. Which records does phase 3 of the PDF pilot (non-digitised records) cover. How long will the pilot last?
  Q9. How did you arrive at the fee of £8 for PDFs of non-digitised records? In November 2016 you had a pilot where you supplied PDFs of digitised records for £6, so how come it now costs more?
  Q10. What is the service standard for the turnaround of PDF applications in pilot phase 3?
  Q11. How will I know if a PDF pilot phase is running or not?
  Q12. How do I order a PDF?
  Q13. I do not have the GRO index reference - can I still apply for a PDF during phase 3 of the pilot?
  Q14. What information do I need to apply online?
  Q15. Am I refunded if a PDF order is despatched late?
  Q16. I have not received my PDF order (all or part of), I have not received a PDF attachment with my email, or I am unable to open the attachment?
  Q17. The PDF I received is not the order I applied for, or I have another query in respect of my application?
  Q18. Why am I unable to order a certificate at the same time as requesting a PDF for a particular record?
  Q19. How do I provide feedback on the PDF service?
  Q20. Can I obtain a PDF copy of a record from local register offices?
  Q21. When will you decide whether you are going to offer these services permanently?
  Q22. Will people still be able to order a certificate?


Q1. Why do you need to carry out a pilot for PDF copies?

This is the first time a registration record from England and Wales has been provided in anything other than paper format (certificate), so the process is untested. Importantly, our records are held in a variety of formats (e.g. some digital, some on microfilm etc.) and so delivering a PDF service will impact on the existing operating model in new ways that we need to assess.

We are trying to establish the level of demand for these products.

Q2. Which records does the PDF pilot cover?

The PDF pilots cover birth, death, marriage and civil partnerships which occurred in England and Wales over different time periods. Different records will be available in PDF format dependent on the pilot phase running at that time:

Pilot phase 1 (9 - 30 November 2016)
Pilot 1 was PDF copies of those civil registration records that are held by GRO in a digital format (i.e. birth entries recorded 1837 - 1934 and death entries recorded 1837 - 1957, in addition to those much more recent events captured electronically at point of registration, which include birth and death records registered 2007 onwards, civil partnership records registered December 2005 onwards, and marriages registered 2011 onwards). A GRO index reference is required to be provided with the application and these PDFs cost £6.

Pilot phase 2 (19 January - 8 February 2017)
PDF copies of all birth, death, and marriage records from 1837 and civil partnership records from December 2005, within 3 hours (premium service). These PDFs cost £45.

Pilot phase 3 (16 March - 12 April, or 40,000 PDFs, whichever is sooner)
PDF copies of those civil registration entries that are not held by GRO in a digital format (i.e. birth records 1935 - 2006, death records 1958 - 2006, marriages 1837 - 2010). A GRO index reference is required to be provided with the application and these PDFs will cost £8.

Q3. What is a PDF and if I provide a GRO index reference is it immediately viewable online?

Portable Document Format (PDF) is an electronic file image of records - in this case birth, death, marriage and civil partnership. Not all records held by the Registrar General are digitised, and many have to be scanned from microfiche records and are held separately to the indexes. It is technically not possible with our existing systems to view these records immediately online. The image first has to be converted into PDF and then emailed to the customer.

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, where necessary e.g. if applying for a passport, driving licence, or where required to give notice of marriage.

Q5. Do you have any plans to make historic records viewable online, as in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

There are no current plans to do this.

Q6. Does the pilot cover Forces or Overseas Records?

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

Q7. Does the pilot cover Adoption Records?

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

Q8. Which records does phase 3 of the PDF pilot (non-digitised records) cover. How long will the pilot last?

Pilot phase 3 covers registration records held by the Registrar General, which occurred in England and Wales and are not held in a digital format (i.e. birth records 1935 - 2006, death records 1958 - 2006 and marriages 1837 - 2010).

The application must be submitted online and include a GRO index reference. These PDFs will cost £8.

Phase 3 of the pilot is due to close on 12 April, or when 40,000 PDFs have been ordered, whichever comes sooner.

Q9. How did you arrive at the fee of £8 for PDFs of non-digitised records? In November 2016 you had a pilot where you supplied PDFs of digitised records for £6, so how come it now costs more?

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

Q10. What is the service standard for the turnaround of PDF applications in pilot phase 3?

For phase 3 of the pilot the turnaround time for the process of PDF applications is 5 working days.

Q11. How will I know if a PDF pilot phase is running or not?

Full details will be published on our online ordering site, with an appropriate announcement of when the pilot phase has commenced or finished.

Q12. How do I order a PDF?

An order for a PDF copy of a registration record must be made via our online ordering site. The PDF product is selectable under the "the service option" on the application page for an England & Wales birth, death or marriage certificate.

Q13. I do not have the GRO index reference - can I still apply for a PDF during phase 3 of the pilot?

No, for phase 3 of the Pilot you must provide a GRO index reference. The GRO online historic indexes do not include our non-digitised records and therefore if you do not have the index reference you will need to research this either via one of our host sites or through other organisations which hold the index online. See Research Your Family History on GOV.UK.

Q14. What information do I need to apply online?

As well as providing the full GRO index reference number for the record that you are interested in, you will be prompted to supply further details for more recent births and deaths (within the last 50 years) as you complete the online application form.

Q15. Am I due a refund if a PDF order is despatched late?

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

Q16. I have not received my PDF order (all or part of), I have not received a PDF attachment with my email, or I am unable to open the attachment?

If you have not received any of your order, please check your trash / spam folder, and if there add the below address to your trusted email addresses.

gro@gro.gsi.gov.uk

If not in your spam folder or only part of your order is outstanding, please telephone our customer contact centre on 0300 123 1837, providing details of what is yet to be received. (What has been processed is viewable under the order history of your online ordering account.)

Q17. The PDF I received is not the order I applied for, or I have another query in respect of my application?

Please telephone our customer contact centre (0300 123 1837), where your enquiry will be received and forwarded to a dedicated team to investigate.

Q18. Why am I unable to order a certificate at the same time as requesting a PDF for a particular record?

The pilot is based on a minimal viable product adapting our existing online certificate ordering system. Following the pilots we will examine our options for enhancing systems further, though can provide no indication of future services at this stage.

Q19. How do I provide feedback on the PDF service?

Please use the link to the survey sent in the email with your PDF image.

Q20. Can I obtain a PDF copy from local register offices?

No. The power to issue PDF's only applies to copies of records sent to the Registrar General and held at the GRO.

Q21. When will you decide whether you are going to offer these services permanently?

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

Q22. Will people still be able to order a certificate?

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

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