GRO - Have you tried the new ordering system?

The GRO are trialing a new system of ordering English and Welsh birth & death certificates. These will arrive via email as a PDF within five days (which for those of us outside the UK will be exceptionally speedy). They will be uncertified e.g. you can't use them for identity proof, but perfect for family history research and only cost £6 each. There is a limit on the trial of three weeks or 45,000 certificates and it will be interesting to see which comes first?

Ordering a PDF

So starting with a death certificate for Joseph Goodyer. The addition of the age at death before 1868 gives me more confidence that this is my Joseph Goodyer dying in 1840 aged 44.

Joseph Goodyer Death Index

The details on the death certificate are a little scarce:

  • Number
  • When & Where Died
  • Name & Surname
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Cause of Death
  • Signature, description and residence of informant
  • When register
  • Signature of registrar

I'm hoping that the informants details might be useful to my research and maybe the cause of death might lead to more information. 

Clicking on the PDF button beside the certificate I wanted took me to the following screen:

Joseph Goodyer - Order Screen

It was interesting to see that "Standard PDF by Email" was the default entry on the order screen. 

The next screen checks that my email is correct.

Email verification

Tick the box and hit submit and I get my basket summary. 

GRO Basket Summary

Note the estimated despatch date, which allows for the weekend in the five days calculation i.e it became seven days.

I'm going to add a couple more certificates to my order and so will click on "Return to the GRO Indexes", rather than "Continue Shopping" which takes you to the normal ordering screen allowing you to order with references as we have done in the past.

What Can Go Wrong? - Hints and Tips for Getting it Right

Edmund Hill Thorn was the ancestor who really started my family history research and because of the family bible we always knew when he was born - 16 February 1855. However entries in bibles can be wrong, so for completeness I'm ordering his birth certificate.

Edmund Hill Thorn Birth Search

No matching results... but it's because I have not followed the instructions and added the middle name to the First Forename box. It's so easy to do especially as we genealogists tend to think of our ancestors with all their names rather than just forename and surname (or is that just me?). Trying again, filling the form in correctly and he is found. 

Edmund Hill Thorn Birth Search Result


It's easy to make a mistake in your search and here's a couple of other ways and some tips for finding information:

Not swapping between male or female is an easy mistake to make.

Adding a mother's maiden name for an illegitimate birth may also cause issues as they don't appear to be included in these birth indexes. You'll see a dash instead.

Also watch if the mother has been married before as some births may show under her maiden name and some under her married name (see the GRO Indexes- Solving Mysteries for an example).

As always remember sometimes less is more. Start with less fields filled in and if there are too many results then start to add more information. Leaving out a known maiden name may bring up more results where the name is spelt or transcribed incorrectly. 

There is fabulous information about Registration Districts on the FreeBMD site and also Genuki


There's also a great feature where you can check your orders. 

GRO - My Recent Orders

The Knudsen/Thomas marriage certificate hadn't arrived yesterday... I wonder if it will be the postbox today?

I have to say having the new indexes made me review my direct ancestry to see what gaps I had in certificates. I hadn't realised how many of my ancestors that were born in England were born just before civil registration started and then had immigrated to New Zealand (or Australia) before they married i.e. there wasn't a lot of direct line birth certificates to buy. I might however have to have a focus on death certificates.


As you have read all the way to the bottom of my post, how about a free form to help keep track of your birth searches?

GRO England Wales Birth Search Form

Download our GRO - England & Wales - Birth Search form; as a bonus it's a fillable form, so use on your computer or print.

Have a look at our other blog posts on the GRO Indexes:

GRO Update - Searching the England & Wales Birth and Death Indexes

GRO Indexes - Solving mysteries



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