Kent England Research
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Kent England Research   

Genealogical Research in Kent, England, specialising in South West Kent

Q. Are you able and willing to obtain copies of certificates (relating to births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales, from July 1837 onwards) from the General Register Office?

A. I do regularly order certificates on behalf of others (and occasionally in connection with my own family); full details of entries in the GRO records are available only by paying for such copy certificates. These can now be ordered online. Digital copies of the GRO indexes, 1837-2005 or thereabouts, are available on various websites, while databases created from some or all of these indexes are also available online in various locations such as "" (including the wonderful pioneering work of "FreeBMD", now available through as well as on the original FreeBMD website), "FamilyRelatives" and others. All this helps to make finding the required references easier, even though full details of the original entries of BMD are not available online and this does not seem likely to change in the future (unless new legislation is brought in), according to the notes on the IPS website - see - about the latest GRO digitisation project.

These authoritative notes include the following comments:- "Current legislation in England and Wales does not permit the register entries (certificate information) to be made available online. However, the provision of online access to the indexes will provide greater accessibility and improved ease of use for those people undertaking family history research."

Q. When are the new improved indexes likely to become available online?

A. The notes on the latest GRO digitisation project, just mentioned above, include the following comments in response to this question:- "Overall delivery timescales are not yet available and we will only be able to publish such target dates once they have been agreed with a supplier. It should be noted that the project will be subject to the standard governance and approvals applied to all government projects including an Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Gateway Review. Once procurement preparations are complete, the project will seek the relevant approvals to launch the procurement of a supplier........ We aim to be in a position to award contracts to the successful supplier in first quarter 2011."

Q. What do you charge for obtaining copies of certificates from the GRO?

A. I am happy to make online searches in the GRO indexes for given entries and to obtain copies of certificates, but naturally have to pass on their cost, £9.25 per certificate, in addition to my own fees (based on £20 per hour) and any other expenses - especially onward postage (from my home address to the end recipient, that is).

Q. I understand that it is possible to have such certificates sent by the GRO direct to anywhere in the World without incurring additional costs for postage. This seems a very valuable service - don't you ever make use of it, to save on both time and the onward postage to the end recipient which you have just mentioned?

A. I am willing to apply for GRO certificates online and have them sent to my own address, only. After noting all relevant details, I will then forward any such certificates to you by post. This will naturally involve some extra costs for postage. However, the GRO will indeed send certificates to any delivery address, in any country, which is supplied to them, without further charge for postage. Should you wish to take advantage of this, you will need to register on and obtain your certificates yourself, direct from the GRO.

Q. If I decide to order certificates to be sent directly to me as you have just suggested, would there be any disadvantages in approaching things in this way?

A. The only disadvantage would seem to be in cases where I am undertaking further, continuing research on behalf of the same client, for which it would naturally be helpful - if not, indeed, in many cases essential - for me to have knowledge of the full details given on such certificates, given that these, at least in the case of birth and death certificates, cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Q. Surely this is not an insurmountable difficulty?

A. No - it is easy enough to get round this problem, if the recipient in such cases simply scans the certificates on receipt and emails me such scanned copies. While a typed copy of the details of any certificate is acceptable, I really prefer to be able to refer to a copy of the original certificate so that I can interpret the details myself. Occasionally I may even notice something which might not be immediately obvious, but may be of help in continuing with the research project in question.

Matthew Copus
307 Dale Street
Kent ME4 6QR