Improvement on ability to search for birth, marriage and death records

E Walker made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to General Register Office

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear General Register Office,
Due to the layout of the GRO indexes it is difficult to search for ancestors you may know less about. For instance if you had an ancestor who you know was born between 1840 and 1850 around the North Of England it would be painstaking to find them as you can only search 2 years either side of a date. A search layout more like ScotlandsPeople would be appreciated. It is also difficult to gauge whether you have the correct information as there is very little provided without purchasing the certificate.

Yours faithfully,

E. Walker

FOI, General Register Office

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Dear Sir / Madam,


Thank you for your email of 18 January 2021 regarding the layout of GRO's
indexes.  Your request has been handled as official correspondence rather
than as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act
2000, although this does not mean that your enquiry has been actioned any
differently or that the information provided contains any less content or


Firstly, it is worth noting within the United Kingdom civil registration
is a devolved service. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate systems
based upon their own legislation and therefore their own systems for
searching for records.


The information contained in the indexes enables a basic search to assist
in the identification of an entry, without releasing other information
contained in the registration entry, as legally this can only be released
in the form of a certified copy of an entry (a hard copy certificate) or a
PDF. The following document contains further information on indexes
[1] The
FreeBMD facility referenced on the GOV.UK website at
[2] allows for wider search
parameters which may be helpful.  Also, there is a full list of indexes
available at certain libraries (as detailed on the website) to support
customers who wish to widen their search beyond the +/-  2 years.


We are conscious those wishing to access registration records would like
information available through different and easier routes, particularly in
relation to older records, and we continue to look at improving and
updating our online services.


Yours faithfully


Bobbi Selby

Policy Advisor

Civil Registration Directorate

Her Majesty's Passport Office, General Register Office

Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, PR8 2HH



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