U.K. General Register Office Online Indexes Births and Deaths

To researchers wanting information on English and Welsh ancestry, the publication online of the UK General Register Office’s Births and Deaths Indexes was the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread.

The General Register Office is where to go to find births, deaths, marriages, adoptions and civil partnerships, and is located within HM Passport Office. The Online indexes are those Births and Deaths entries which have been digitised. Unfortunately there has been no digitisation of marriages as yet.

The address is www.gro.gov.uk and was updated on 12th September 2019.

It is free to use and is very user friendly. The user has firstly to register and login with email address and password.  Once registered, you can return as often as you like.

The great issue with the Online GRO is that the birth index has the mother’s maiden name, and this is right from the very start at September 1837, through to 1918. (There is the hundred-year privacy rule which stops newer entries being added.) Remember that FreeBMD only starts at 1912 to give the maiden name, so it is a huge step forward. Deaths are from 1837 to 1957 and give the age at death. (50 year privacy rule, but only digitised to 1957).

It is very worthwhile to go back over your family tree for UK entries which were by made relying on FreeBMD and check especially births to ensure that you have the correct entries.  If you use Ancestry family trees as a means to grow your tree, always check the births and deaths entries against the GRO Online entries.  There are hundreds of examples of wrong children attributed to incorrect parents.

The updated website is extremely useful with PDFs to explain many of the options.  One new cost option is to purchase a Birth or Death certificate via PDF at a cost of GPB7.00, which will  be supplied via email usually in 4 working days.  This is opposed to purchasing a printed certificate costing GBP11.00 and taking 3 weeks to come via snail-mail. (See below Item 10: Other services we provide.)

Once you have logged in there is a menu from which to choose:

Clicking on “Search the GRO Indexes” brings this screen, where the choice is between Births and Deaths:

Click on Births:

Click on Deaths:


The new web site has introduced a section on Family History where there are PDFs available to help in searching:



The new web site has other features, such as reminding the user that FreeBMD has records which the GRO has not yet digitised and which are freely available.