It is suggested this souce be used to provide a citation for a primary source document such as a birth, death or marriage certificate, certified extract of an entry in a register or a copy of an entry in a register which was issued by the General Registrar Office for an event which occurred in England and Wales.
A variety of indexes of births, marriages and deaths are maintained for England and Wales. For births, marriages, deaths and civil partnerships in England and Wales there are two indexes which record each event. The first is a local index of the registration district where the event took place and was actually registered. The second is a national index covering the whole of England and Wales which was compiled from returns made by each local registrar. Births, marriages and deaths are indexed from 1 July 1837. Civil partnerships are indexed from 1 January 2005.
Adoptions and still births in England and Wales have been registered since January and July 1927 respectively. Unlike other events in England and Wales adoptions and still births are only indexed centrally by the General Register Office. Still birth certificates are more restricted in their availability and are only issued automatically to close relatives of the stillborn child. The Registrar General has discretion over whether to issue them to other parties.
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. 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 have their own system.
A complete set of GRO Indexes are available to view in microfiche format at Birmingham Central Library, Bridgend Reference and Information Library, The British Library, City of Westminster Archives Centre, London Metropolitan Archives, Greater Manchester County Record Office and Plymouth Central Library. Other locations only have indexes of events up to and including 2005 due to a policy decision by the GRO. The website FreeBMD  is undertaking a transcription project for the birth. marriage and death indexes from 1837 to 1983 and has images of the indexes available for the whole of this period. As of June 2011 the transcription project is largely complete up to the mid-1940's. The indexes are available for searching by the public but the records themselves are generally only available through the purchase of a certificate. There is no charge for searching the indexes.
The one exception to the records themselves not being available is for some marriage registers. If a marriage takes place in a church it is possible that copies of the register will eventually be deposited in the relevant local register office.
It is important to note that the birth, death, marriage, civil partnership, adoption and still birth registers of the General Register Office only cover events taking place in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland maintain completely separate systems for the registration of vital events. The correct sources to use for just the General Register Office reference for births, marriages, deaths, civil partnerships, adoptions and still births in England and Wales as recorded in the General Register Office indexes are:
Generally, copies of the certificates of deceased individuals may be uploaded to this website. For additional information about copying, see .