How to obtain a BMD certificate for England/Wales

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How to obtain a BMD certificate for England/Wales

Post by mardler » October 4th, 2009, 10:15 pm

England and Wales have a single national registration system which began July 1, 1837.

Scotland's system is different. I'm not familiar with that. Maybe someone can post here how.

There are services that will charge people up to £25 or more for a certificate. There's a better, faster and cheaper way, and that is to do it yourself! Here's how you do it:
1) Find the necessary date and codes
2) Order the cert on-line

Step 1 - Find the necessary date and codes
Go to
Enter in as much as you know about the event and the person. Select the county OR the local registration district, but not both. You should end up with a page that looks something like this:
Surname First name(s) District Vol Page
Marriages Dec 1847 (>99%)
HOWES Thomas Yarmouth 13 976
HOWES Thomas Norwich 13 756
HOWES Thomas Sunderland 24 317
You can click on the page number to see whom else is on that same page, which can be a handy look up for marriages. You can click on the district name too to find out which villages are within the area served by the office. Anyway, note the calendar quarter, name, District, Volume and Page #'s because you'll need them to make the order.

Sometimes you will not find a birth record. A quirk of British law meant there was a penalty for late registration of births, but no penalty for not registering! So poor people often didn't bother. You need a death certificate to bury a body and the marriage process leads normally to signing the register. So there are fewer gaps in these records.

Step 2 - Place your order
Go to ... efault.asp and register for a user ID. Then log in and place your order. Don't worry about filling in too many fields when you get to the page where you actually place your order for the named certificate: just put in family name and given name (only one needed for marriage, not both spouses), quarter, district, volume and page and that should do the trick. Each certificate costs £9.25. You can pay with your credit card (VISA, M/C or AmEx) and there is NO extra charge for overseas addresses. Even sea-mail, certificates I have ordered for the US often take about 10 days to arrive, sometimes less.

If you make a mistake, don't worry. At the very worst, when you have finished each certificate, you can edit your request or delete it and go back to enter it again. In my experience, the most frequent mistake I make is not to say what kind of certificate I want!

Step 3 - Finish the job (hint)
Scan it in and send me a copy for the website!

Hope this helps - amended January 2021

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Posts: 261
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 6:28 pm

Re: How to obtain a BMD certificate for England/Wales

Post by mardler » December 22nd, 2019, 8:34 pm

Update news:
1 - Full certificates now cost £11 each.

2 - For births between July 1837 and Dec 1934, and then 1984 to 2019, and deaths between July 1837 and Dec 1957 and then 1984 to 2019, you can obtain an "uncertificate" at a much reduced cost of £7 and the really good news is that they take only 3 days to arrive in your email inbox. Uncertificates are PDF copies of the original register but not certified as such. I made a web page about them, here:

To order one, either, find the index record as described in Step 1, or go direct to the website linked in the note above and search their new index directly. Once you have found the record you want click on the handy ORDER button.

Marriage certificates are not available on this faster, cheaper system.
Paul - December 2019, amended January 2021.

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