Buying BMD certificates

Buying Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

Certificate ordering services are now offered by a number of online providers – in fact some are quick links from the main genealogy websites designed to offer you an “easy buy” but these services all include a heavy surcharge.  One site is (at beginning of 2010) charging a basic £19.99 per certificate.

Before using these services please be aware that it is a very simple process to order certificates direct from register offices and you should only pay a maximum of £11 for standard service.  NEVER pay more unless you need an express service, and even then, do it direct, not through a commercial genealogy website.  Ordering direct keeps the money within the registration services, saves you money, and leaves you in control of your ordering.

If you have found a certificate you want to order using one of the local registrars’ websites, then most of these provide ordering details.  The current price for Warwickshire’s online service is £11.00  and local registrars usually turn around orders more quickly than the national office.  For the Warwickshire Registration Services search facility click here.

There is some useful information about registration to be found on the UKBMD website which is the main portal for all local registration services who have online indexing available.

for information on ordering certificates direct from GRO (General Register Office)  click here. For their help pages click here.

For more useful information about civil registration visit the Genuki website England & Wales. and the Genuki website Lincolnshire. (contains general information on civil registration)

Don’t spend money needlessly –
Remember, if you know which parish your ancestors married in, then you can view the parish registers on film in many places, and make a print-out for a few pence (a list of holdings for north Warwickshire parishes is available from our bookshop and in the Members Only section of this website). If you need to purchase a certificate then order direct from local civil registration services for £10 per certificate.

FAQs about Buying BMD Certificates

What is a GRO index reference?
The General Register Office allocates a reference to every event of birth, marriage or death registered in England and Wales. This relates to the year, quarter and district that the entry was registered in followed by the 
volume and page number e.g. 1858, March quarter, Nuneaton, 6d 353. By giving the office this index reference it allows them to quickly identify the correct entry. This reference is only of use to the General Register Office and not to local registration offices who use their own referencing system.

Where can I find the GRO reference number for a birth, marriage or death certificate?
You may be able to find the reference number which is used by the GRO by searching on:-
  • FreeBMD, which is free to search.
  • The “Life Events”, which include the GRO indexes, at Find My Past. The indexes are free to search but you need a subscription to see the full reference number.
  • The GRO images at (there is helpful information given on how to search them). The indexes at Ancestry require a subscription but you can have 30 minutes free use of Ancestry at Nuneaton and other Warwickshire libraries if you have a library card.

What information will I see on a certificate?
The details contained on a full birth certificate include:
Name, date and place of birth.
Father’s name (if given at time of registration), place of birth and occupation.
Mother’s name, place of birth, maiden surname and, after 1984, occupation.
(Registrations made before 1969 do not include details of the parents’ place of birth and mother’s occupation.)
The details contained on a marriage certificate include:
Date and place of marriage.
Name, age and marital status of man and woman.
Occupation and usual address.
Name and occupation of each party’s father.
Names of the witnesses.
Name of the person who solemnised the marriage.
The details contained on a death certificate include:
Name, date and place of death.
Date and place of birth (before 1969 a certificate only showed age of deceased).
Occupation and usual address.
Cause of death.
The person who gave information for the death registration.

Can I order a certificate that is not mine?
Under UK legislation, birth, marriage and death certificates are designated as ‘public records’, and as such anyone can request a duplicate certificate to be produced. The only caveat to this is that for births that occurred within the past 50 years, the full details are required to be provided (which includes full date of birth, and parents’ names including the mother’s maiden name). This is to protect against identity fraud.

*Prices correct at time of publishing post Aug 2021