Tag Archives: Welsh Ancestors

Vital Records from GRO of England and Wales

Vicki’s note: 1-17-2018   

article from Legacy Tree Genealogists:


Ordering Records from the General Register Office of England and Wales

If you have British ancestry and have done any research on those family lines, you’ve probably noticed that the index information for vital records doesn’t provide you with a lot of details – usually not even the exact date of the event. However, the actual records themselves can contain quite a bit of helpful information, and are almost always worth the time and effort to obtain them from the General Register Office (GRO). In this article, we’ll share how to request these records in order to extend your family history.

Mandatory civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths in England and Wales began in 1837, and these records can be ordered online through the General Register Office (GRO). Before you can place your order you will need to create a free account. Once you’ve registered you can either order a record right away, or search the index for a reference number before ordering. Although supplying the GRO reference number when placing an order does not change the cost, it does change how quickly your order is processed. Records are processed by the General Register Office in 4 business days if you send them the reference number, while orders without the reference number take 15 business days to process. Once processed, the certificates are mailed out and take anywhere between three and ten business days to arrive, depending on the destination.

Indexes to General Register Office reference numbers can be found in several different places online. Currently, you can search indexes of births (1837-1916) and deaths (1837-1957) directly on the GRO website when you log into your account. One advantage of searching the indexes directly on the General Register Office website is that you can order a certificate directly from the index entry and reference information will be added automatically on the order form. The General Register Office does not have indexes of marriage records.

Another website to access civil registration index reference numbers is FreeBMD. Users can start searching immediately, as the website does not require a login. As expressed in its name, FreeBMD is a free website which contains indexed references for civil births, marriages, and deaths. Most birth and marriage entries have been indexed for 1837 to 1983, but index coverage after 1983 is only mostly complete.[1] Index coverage of death records 1837 to 1974 is complete with partial coverage of 1975 to 1983.[2]


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Here is more about FreeBMD; click here for the website:  https://www.freebmd.org.uk/

FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records. It is a part of the Free UK Genealogy family, which also includes FreeCEN (Census data) and FreeREG (Parish Registers). To search the records that have so far been transcribed by FreeBMD click on the Search button below.

The recording of births, marriages and deaths was started in 1837 and is one of the most significant resources for genealogical research. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers and contains index information for the period 1837-1983, BUT WE HAVE NOT YET TRANSCRIBED THE WHOLE PERIOD. A breakdown by event and year can be viewed here.

FreeBMD is exactly that – FREE. We do not make any charge whatsoever for use of the site. FreeBMD is a registered charity and our objective is to provide free online access to the GRO Index. However, FreeBMD costs money to run and if you would like to make a donation, by PayPal or other methods, please see here.