FAQs - part 2
Genealogical Research in Kent, England, specialising in South West Kent
Q. Why did you say (in part 1!) only that full details as given on "birth and death certificates" cannot be obtained elsewhere - what about such full details in the case of marriage certificates, then, and why did you not mention those in this context?
A. Unlike the details given on birth and death certificates, which are unlikely to be found elsewhere in exactly those forms, entries showing marriages from July 1837 onwards in parish registers (etc) normally give the same details as those which will be provided on marriage certificates issued by the GRO. It is even quite likely that these will be somewhat more helpful than a certificate, as they will usually show the original signatures of any parties, witnesses and officiating persons who were able to sign their names (or the "marks" of those who were unable - or unwilling - to sign their own names - which may in themselves prove of interest). Therefore it is true to say that full details of marriages from July 1837 onwards may well be found by other means than a GRO certificate. Digital images of some such marriages are even available online, for instance those for the Medway area of Kent on Medway Archives and Local Studies' "City Ark" website, http://cityark.medway.gov.uk/ or those for the London area now available on Ancestry.co.uk, http://www.ancestry.co.uk/default.aspx - the latter even being fully indexed.
Q. What about delivery times for certificates being sent to overseas addresses?
A. The GRO's stated aim is that these should take only slightly longer to arrive than certificates sent to UK addresses. Faster delivery options are also available, by contacting the GRO Call Centre, on +44 (0)845 603 7788.
Q. Why should I pay you to obtain copies of certificates for me, if it is so easy for me to order them online myself and have them sent direct to me, even though I do not live in the UK?
A. Indeed, there is no reason why you should not do this yourself, but wherever you live (whether in the UK or elsewhere), it is advisable first to obtain the full GRO index reference for any certificate you require, perhaps from Ancestry or one of the other websites offering access to these indexes. Access is also being provided to microformat copies of the indexes at various selected locations in the UK, while other copies are available at, for instance, the Society of Genealogists' Library in London. A full list of places where copies of the GRO indexes are on public access, both in the UK and overseas, can be downloaded from www.direct.gov.uk/gro
Q. I now have the references I need - what do I do next?
A. To order certificates securely online using your credit or debit card, simply visit www.direct.gov.uk/gro and follow the relevant links to register for this service.
Q. I do not like ordering things online, in view of the stories I hear so often about identity theft and the like. As personal application for and collection of copies of certificates at a central location is no longer possible, is there now no way to obtain these, other than by using the GRO's online ordering system or the services of yourself or another similar researcher - as I cannot really afford to employ someone to do this for me?
A. Telephone orders may be placed via the GRO Call Centre on +44 (0)845 603 7788 and there are still other options available, including postal ordering. See the useful summary, with a number of links to other websites, on www.direct.gov.uk/gro
Q. As the original General Register Office indexes of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales from July 1837 onwards are no longer available to the general public, what happens if I really cannot decipher an entry online or on the microfiche?
A. Despite the best efforts of those who have endeavoured to make these indexes available online, with great success, there is unfortunately still sometimes nothing like the real thing. Fortunately the GRO is aware of these occasional problems and will always do its best to help in such cases, by checking any illegible or doubtful references for members of the public. For details of how to obtain clarification of illegible references, among other useful notes, please visit the following URL:- http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Registeringlifeevents/Familyhistoryandresearch/Birthmarriageanddeathcertificates/DG_175464
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