Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Don't pay more for a certificate than necessary

Or just £9.25 from the GRO...
I often complain about the GRO in Belfast charging £15 for a birth, marriage or death certificate, the highest rate charged within the United Kingdom. But there is a far worse offender in the UK - and it's Ancestry.

Ancestry ( offers indexes to English and Welsh births, marriages and deaths, and effective they are for the most part too. But on several parts of its site (not least after each index entry) it also advertises that you can purchase copies of the same records - at a staggering rate of £22.99 each. Sterling... I asked them once why they do this - "administrative costs" was the answer. Ancestry has many great and wonderful services and offerings on its site - but this is not one of them.

You absolutely do not need to pay such extraordinary costs for such certificates. An English or Welsh BMD certificate costs just £9.25 if ordered from the General Register Office for England and Wales, which is based in Southport. To save your bank balance, you can simply take the reference you find on Ancestry (or,, or!) and visit the GRO site instead at to place your order. You need to register with the site first before placing an order.

Note that the GRO is currently advising the following, no doubt because of the current transmission of Who Do You Think You Are generating the usual seasonal interest:

Current Despatch Times

Customers may wish to be aware that GRO is currently receiving a high volume of certificate orders, which is impacting on delivery times for some standard orders. GRO apologises for any inconvenience this may cause to our customers and is working to return to published delivery timescales as soon as possible.

The priority service remains unaffected and orders placed via this service will be despatched on the next working day from receipt of order, if received before 4.00pm.

If you order through the GRO, you can save your hard earned pennies and buy Tiny Tim a big fat turkey at Christmas, as well as provide him with his nice new family history!


My latest book, Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, is now available from (print) and (ebook), whilst Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet is available at My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs, starts Nov 13th - see

1 comment:

  1. Paying £9.25 at the GRO always makes me wince a little, but I was shocked at £22.99. The expense of this could deter many new researchers if they aren't aware of the alternative.