Thursday 6 July 2023

Digital birth and death records now available from the English GRO

Scotland and Ireland have had access to digital birth, marriage and death records for many years now, but for the GRO for England and Wales, it is fair to say that it has been taking the scenic route! Many years ago an attempt was made by the English GRO to digitise and index its records through two projects - DOVE (Digitisation of Vital Events), and EAGLE (Electronic Access to GRO Legacy Events). The project was never completed, with over half the records still to be worked on.

A step forward was made when it became possible to order some birth and marriage records as PDF copies from the GRO at Southport via, at the hefty pice of £7.50 each, although that was cheaper than a certified copy at £11. However, a further evolution has now happened with access now available to digitised images of historic English and Welsh birth and death records - or at least some of them - for just £2.50 each (which is the same price of access for the Northern Irish equivalents via 

The records available are for English and Welsh births from 1837 up to one hundred years ago (1923), and English and Welsh deaths from 1837-1887.

There are some important qualifications on the site about the digital images available:

Digital Image (JPEG)

  • Image of a record that can not be used for official identification e.g. if applying for a passport, driving licence, or where required to give notice of marriage
  • Cost £2.50. Image available to view once payment is complete and a link to the image is provided on the order confirmation screen
  • Available in 'My Orders' for 3 months after date of purchase
  • Not all records are available to view as Digital Images, however the record you are searching for may be available as a PDF or certificate.

When accessing the English GRO site, you will be asked when you start an application if you wish to order a certificate, PDF, or digital image - if a digital image, there is a link that takes you through to the indexes at, and you proceed from there.

A test purchase has shown that you get an image such as the following:

Payment is by Mastercard, Visa or Maestro only.  

This is a massive step forward for English and Welsh researchers, who have been discriminated against for years with regards to cost effective access for research into their own vital records, but this is still only a job half done. 

Fingers crossed that someone up high in the Westminster government will see the wisdom in completing the job, and levelling up access to such important genealogical records for all across the UK.   

(With thanks to @WillsmanOneName on Twitter)


Order Tracing Your Belfast Ancestors in the UK at Also available - Tracing Your Irish Ancestors Through Land Records, Sharing Your Family History Online, Tracing Your Scottish Family History on the Internet, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd ed), and Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry Through Church and State Records - to purchase, please visit For the USA visit Further news published daily on The Scottish GENES Facebook page, and on Twitter @genesblog.

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