“Major changes are about to affect our access to records of births and deaths in England & Wales.
Until recently, the ways to consult substantial indexes of birth, marriage and death registrations online and free of charge were by visiting the following sites:
- FreeBMD site: Complete coverage from July 1837 until the 1960s with some later entries. Based on the General Register Office (GRO) printed indexes. The section of this index down to 1915 can also be seen free of charge if you sign onto the Ancestry website but be wary of Ancestry’s charges for arranging to supply you with a certificate – the cheapest and quickest way to obtain a certificate is to order it yourself direct from the GRO.
- The Local BMD Project have placed millions of BMD indexes online for free, based on the more accurate and more complete data held by the original register offices rather than that held by the GRO. Some local Register Offices have placed their BMD indexes online too. All of these websites with indexes based on the original registers can be found via links on the Local BMD page within the UK BMD website.
FreeBMD and the Local BMD Project will continue to be useful to many researchers. However, for some searches, newly released indexes on the GRO site will also be helpful. They cover these periods:
- Births (July 1837-December 1915)
- Deaths (July 1837-December 1957)
Unlike the printed GRO indexes and those based on them, the new GRO indexes include these details for all years back to 1837:
- Births = the mother’s maiden name (previously only indexed from 1911 onwards)
- Deaths = the age at death (previously only indexed from 1866 onwards)
The new GRO indexes are very cumbersome to use as you have to specify the year (plus or minus up to only 2 years) and also the gender of the person concerned.
Temporary price cuts
The GRO is now legally able to issue registration information other than as a certificate. As a pilot service, it intends to make information available in PDF form. Phase 1 of the new service starts on 9 November 2016 and will run for up to 3 weeks. It will test demand for uncertificated copies of the civil registration entries that are already digitised (i.e. birth entries recorded 1837 – 1934 and death entries recorded 1837 – 1957), in addition to those much more recent birth, death, marriage and civil partnership records which were also recorded directly onto the registration service online system. The application must be submitted online and contain a GRO reference. These PDFs will cost £6.00.
This phase of the pilot will close after 3 weeks or when 45,000 PDFs have been ordered, whichever comes soonest. Further phases will follow and are described in detail on the GRO site.
So, if you want details of such births and deaths, you can get them for £6.00, instead of £9.25 – but only for a very short time. We have no idea what the price will be after then.
See this page of the GRO website.”