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England BMD Birth Marriage and Death Certificates 

Seriously folks you need to purchase BMD certificates. 

In England Civil Registration commenced in 1837 from then you can find BMD certificates - so its from July 1837 that certificates apply.  Prior to 1837  you may be able to obtain a copy of a parish register entry see Ron's Intro to Parish Registers (PRs) - and Starting Research - Newbies Help etc for further explanation. Of course there are parish registers after 1837 - for marriages the data should be the same as a GRO marriage certificate.

Civil Registration - timelines and also

Ordering Certificates

The Government place is at 
which is the
place to order  -  you need the full reference to order at the best price. Cost was 7 GBP from 2006 but in 2010 increased to 9.25

The full reference - the persons names and registrations district and year and quarterand page and volume - example Margaret LANKSHEAR Deaths June 1860 Bermondsey 1 d 7.

Sometimes confusion regarding data needed when filling GRO request - with historic certificates a minimum of data is needed for example marriages you only need one spouse and the year quarter and reference (- page volume and district) - you do not need the other spouse and you may not even know anyway.

Finding the Reference - Free searches

The GRO index (sometimes called St Cath's a building the GRO once inhabited )
The index gives you a reference from which you can then order a certificate  from the Government  

GRO is available on fiche at many places such as  LDS offices and places like libraries. In Sydney it is at State Library and SAG and LDS FHC offices. Please note these are an index by Quarter within a year. You have to open each quarter to see if your ancestor is there. Easy if you are looking for Ron Lankshear but John Smith - how will you know it is your person. You need an idea of year and area.


There is a FHS project which covers several counties - York Lancs Cheshire Staff Camb Kent etc or
Do try it out may well be worth looking at the service

For sake of avoiding confusion there is also  (which translates to ) this was free and was used for details of wanted and "unwanted" certificates. As of 2004 it now has an annual charge. As of 2009 it seems to have disappeared altogether - just leaving due name conflict.


FreeBMD is a major service for England and Wales the GRO index can be searched by name from 1837 onwards. You get the reference so you can order certificates and all of that is FREE.

FreeBMD is basically updated every month with new transcriptions - do check the coverage charts for years of interest - they are well into later half of 20th century. use FreeBMD transcriptions only for the period 1837 to 1915. Transcriptions post 1915 on the Ancestry site are not from FreeBMD. Any updates to transcriptions by FreeBMD for the period 1837 to 1915 are no longer supplied to Ancestry.

Note: FreeBMD 100% may not mean complete - read FreeBMD comments - then back to look at images as appropriate. FreeBMD has images of Index available - basically the documents are those they use for transcription. If you are searching for specific dates and your people do not appear with name search - then it is a good idea to check the applicable image - also if record shown in FreeBMD name search looks difficult - perhaps check the Image to confirm the transcription. Check the information pages for coverage by year charts.

Finding marriage partners at FreeBMD and Ancestry

FreeBMD allows a search for potential spouse by both first and surname from 1837 onwards. In Ancestry you can only search for spouse surnames and only from 1911 when GRO added the surname to the index. Ancestry may show a search box but it will only work from July 1911.

FreeBMD puts all the people in one quarter under one reference for one registration district together. When you have a search result, click the page number alongside your ancestor and on a new page will be a list of potential spouses. Could be up to eight names depending on year etc.

In FreeBMD when you have a list of potential spouses you could use the next census to sort of check who married who.
Marriages Mar 1882 (>99%) Islington 1b 439
BRYETT Frederick Nicholls 
Orrow Eleanor 
Orrow William Henry 

This must be the ORROW couple in 1891
Eleanor Orrow William H abt 1844 Clerkenwell, London, England Wife Chelsea, London
presumably a cousins marriage. 

which means Harriet married Fred but I cannot find Fred and Harriet Bryett after their marriage

FreeBMD search for spouse by first name is very useful - you may know a man was married to a Mary but not Mary's surname. However the combinations with Mary you find will not always be actual bride of your man. Example look for any Lankshear married to Caroline. Two hits.  Joseph in 1840 did not marry Caroline Wood but Sarah Fowler. Thomas in 1870 did marry Caroline Townsend. I hope you see that FreeBMD does not "know" who someone married they just have the potential couple at that time....


The index shows a district which may not be clear as to area covered. InFreeBMD click the district to read more. Otherwise perhaps a web search or visit and Register Offices - 

Simon Fisher has an very good and detailed page on London and Surrey registers

Barbara has some good Help on BMD includes what is on certificates  

When you want to order certificates then perhaps consult Mark Howells has  Mark was writing before GRO - put  ordering online.

Deaths can be difficult to find - from mid 1866 age at death is shown (if informer had it right) but when you get the cert this maybe useful Archaic Medical Terms

Corrections to FreeBMD and Certificate information

If you see transcription errors on FreeBMD then do click and send a correction - its a tricky screen has a little box to tick yes in middle of conditions. Plus you can send Postems for entries and you may find cousins that way

Also I have been advised this site is ok
BMD Certificate Exchange Site - The place to list all your unwanted Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates, Will Transcriptions, etc.

Fee charging Sites and GRO Images 

But difficult to see why you would use PAY when GRO seems to be Free on FreeBMD and UKBMD - except if outside their years available. 
Ancestry call it BMD  but it is the GRO index.  Their index may not always bring up a page which it should. Browsing the images by year may find what you want. As of 2008 the 4th quarter 1925 it seems is lost within the 3rd quarter. I do not know if Ancestry will ever fix the problem or if there other such glitches. or used to be 1837online  has images of the fiche. These images are very good - sometimes readable whereas the fiche is vague.
  which I have not used but someone else said the search was good - I gather you can register and try a search before paying to view which may be good for 20th century in particular.
which has a variety of subscription offers - I find their plans confusing - also have census and parish registers.

DoVe Project

the GRO certificates were to be digitalised and provide a much better search as well as certificates on line -  - marriages etc missing from GRO index may appear in the DOVE index and death age for years prior to 1866. Sadly 2008 sounds like DoVe has failed 

Commercial Supply of Certificates

Some people still pay extra and order certificates from professionals but that is probably because the professional provides a total service but please be satisfied that the extra you pay is worth the service - 
Examples of people I would not recommend due high prices 
1.  - also known as St this was discussed on London List in May 2006 

Ancestry have a service to order certificates - a shopping cart tick - I would advise DO NOT USE. Someone got to completion stage and then saw price was GBP 19.99 much more that the GRO charge

Some people in Australia  use a professional as they also order transcriptions of Australian BDM through the same professionals.

Order certificates from

Example order - 22 Jan 2009 - 7 certs - they said would ship 28 Jan and arrived 3 Feb and I am in Australia - very good service