Thursday, 12 March 2015

Progress towards making English/Welsh BMD certs available online

There was a debate in the Westminster Parliament yesterday on the Deregulation Bill. The following has been recorded in the offical record, Hansard (

"Very nearly finally, Lords amendments 47 and 48 will allow records to be available other than in the form of a certificate. Many family historians and genealogists do not need a certificate, but merely the information contained within it. Providing alternative formats will make it cheaper and quicker to obtain that information. The amendments would provide the power to lay regulations to define how a person may access birth, death, marriage and civil partnership records, the type of product that can be issued, and the fee payable. The regulations could also introduce a legal distinction regarding the age of birth, death, marriage and civil partnership records. That will follow the precedent set in Scotland and Northern Ireland where records are considered historical at 100, 75 and 50 years for births, marriages and deaths respectively. "

This is encouraging progress, and it would seem that the House of Commons is actively seeking to use the ScotlandsPeople service ( and the GRONI's Geni service ( as precedents for any future possible English and Welsh online service.

It is worth noting one key difference between these two services, however - although ScotlandsPeople provides records older than the closure periods stated, it does offer indexes online to (almost) the present day, something the Geni service does not. So if it wants to follow precedent, please follow the Scottish example - not least because the BMD indexes are already available online up to 2005, which could be easily extended and integrated into any possible service.

Digitised historic records, up to date indexes, so tantalisingly close you can almost taste it - you're so close GRO England and Wales, please don't screw this up!!!

(With thanks to Martin James via LinkedIn)


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