English GRO Trial of PDF Certificates

The General Register Office in London is conducting a trial of PDF versions of birth, death, and marriage certificates for 6 pounds instead of 9+ pounds as in the past. Records are not immediately viewable. Instead, after payment the records are sent to the purchaser via email as a PDF file. The trial period is for a limited period and set amount of certificates, but those familiar with the past methods of ordering certificates online say that it is a really good deal.

You can see more info at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp and details are available at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/most_customers_want_to_know.asp.

My thanks to newsletter reader Linda Pauwels for telling me about the new procedures.


A word of caution. The ages in the deaths’ index only read the numbers. Therefore a child dying at 4 months, as my father’s brother did, is shown as being 4 years old. I’ve checked others, and examples are 23 months showing 23 years, 6 weeks showing 6 years, etc etc. I reported this to GRO on 04 November and am awaiting feedback from them.


This is great, it cuts down the time by at least 2 weeks. The Victorian Government in Australia has had this service for years, and available immediately upon receipt. Somehow I have a feeling someone is plagiarizing here. Which in this case, is great. Many of the U.S. states have the same service, but don’t make it available by email delivery because of silly fears of identify fraud.


US customers can save even more now because the current exchange rate (dollars to pounds) is about 1.25, much lower than normal.


I was in error on the marriage certificates. The PDF trial is just birth and death certificates.


The real benefit of the GRO changes (despite some difficulties seen by margarethirst) is providing information in the index which was previously unavailable. Before this change the indexes only showed age at death from 1865 onwards, now age at death can be found back to the start of records in 1837. And the birth index which previously only showed mother’s maiden name after 1911 now has them back to 1837 (where recorded) as well. And for me, sometimes the only reason to buy a certificate was to find that out. It’s been particularly helpful in cases where the parent’s given names (found from baptism records or the like) were common ones. The maiden name “for free” has helped pinpoint the exact parents’ marriage. In the past I recall having to take several speculative gambles (at GBP10 a bet) before getting the correct line sorted.


See my 1999 article on email and loss of information which discussed then what the archival wold could lose. See at


Trial has now finished and phase two will start shortly. in the meantime the price has gone back up to the original £9.25


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