Finding Birth, Marriage, Death Certificates the World Over
Depending on where you live in the world, it is still possible in most cases to order copies of the certificates that you’d like to use to help you in your genealogy. Among those which could be helpful are the birth, marriage, death and divorce (although these were less common) certificates that may be on file.
Various countries began in their record keeping at different stages, however in some cases, even prior to formal registration you can find records of marriages with the church.
In the United States, each state is responsible for keeping their own vital statistics and you will need to write to the individual state to receive them. To assist you there exists a full list of the states and where to write to obtain those records that you might find useful on the CDC site.
Those individual states addresses are located here:
England and Wales
In England and Wales registration, or civil registration as it is called, began formally in about 1837, so seeking them through civil means is possible for any date post 1837.
Wales and the UK have an online secure site where you can order your marriage, birth or death certificates, and you can find them using their GRO indexes. You can select certificates from the year 1900 up to 18 months prior to the current date if you know the details of what you are looking for.
These can be ordered from the following site:
If you are not able to find the correct name or referral in the GRO index, you can still attempt to access and order it by telephone. When you call, try to offer them as much information as you possible can. Information that will assist you greatly in the correct certificate will be the full name or names, the dates of the event you are seeking or as close to the date as you can get, and the town or area where that event, such as a birth or death took place.
If you are not able to find what you need, there is a searchable online database that is completely free and run by volunteers, although it is not yet completed. That site is called the Free BMD and is located at:
For birth, marriage or death certificates the national Library of Wales also has copies of those for both Wales and England.
Formal registration of people’s live events began in Scotland in about 1855. That is to say that it was introduced at that time. In some cases there may be difficulty in finding what you want because although the civil courts mandated it, in some cases it took a few years before people saw the sense in the registering of births and marriages and began to comply.
In Scotland, the birth, marriage and death certificates for that country are kept in the General Register Office of Scotland. These certificates can be ordered in person, by mail or by telephone order.
To get your certificate that is under 100 years old you can get details on the cost of the certificates on the General Register Office for Scotland web site, which is located at:
Some records such as historical births, marriages or deaths, indexes and images are also available on the internet if you seek them on the Scotlands People Website, which is located on its own site, separate from the GRO at:
The Scotlands People web site is a joint venture between the GROS and the Scotland National Archives as well as the court of the Lord Lyon. It is a for pay site which features indexes and also digital images of births, marriages and deaths as well as some last will and testaments, and some Parish registers of baptisms and marriages.
In Ireland you can find certificates of birth and death beginning from about 1864 and Protestant marriages beginning in about 1845, as well as all other marriages starting again, in 1864 for your ordering. These are held by the General Register Office of Northern Ireland, and you can find details of ordering them online, as well as costs for ordering by phone or mail on the website which is located at:
India and former British holdings:
Aden, Burma, China ,Macao and Whampoa, Kuwait, Pakistan, St Helena, Straits Settlements (Penang, Singapore, Malacca) and Sumatra
Documentation of these countries birth, marriage and death certificates can be found if you use the Oriental and India Office Collections, which are housed at the British Library whose web site is located here:
These documents can also be purchased in person, online, by telephone or by mail.
Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes in the UK 1837-2004
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