Obtaining copies of Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates

The following information is based on my own experiences in obtaining certificates, and from information that I have read on the many Genealogy email lists where this subject does come up for discussion from time to time.

In England there are two different sources from where one can obtain copies of BDM certificates:

  1. The General Register Office (GRO) which is part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The search facilities for the GRO are housed at the Family Records Centre (FRC) in London.
  2. Local District Registration Offices, which are located throughout England, with there being Eleven District Offices in Cornwall. Gwinear comes under the Penzance District and Mawgan in Meneage comes under the Helston District

For anyone living in England one source for copies of certificates is from the local District Office which charge £7.00 per certificate. In Cornwall there are alphabetical indexes for each register. When ordering a certificate contact the office that covers the parish where the event took place, supply the date of the event and as much information as possible to make sure you get the right certificate. They will also search two years either side of the date you supply, but due to limited resources they cannot undertake wider searches.

The District Offices do not have credit card facilities, therefore if you live overseas, then by the time you add bank fees etc: it becomes an expensive exercise.

Therefore for most of us that live overseas it works out cheaper to obtain our certificates from the GRO, which can now be done online and they also accept credit cards for payment. Alternatively one can use a private company based in London where the service means it only takes 2 to 3 weeks to obtain a certificate.

The cheapest way to obtain a copy of a certificate from the GRO is to supply the index reference and the cost is then £7.00, otherwise the cost is £10.00 without the index reference. There is a very large project called Free BDM to put these indexes online and it is now getting to a size that makes it's very worthwhile to search. Otherwise the GRO indexes can be found throughout the world in Libraries, larger Family History Societies, and many other places in many countries. Your local LDS Family History Centre can also order them in for a small loan fee.


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