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General Register Office for England and Wales

The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) was founded in 1836 by the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1836 with and civil registration commencing in 1837.

Further information: England Civil Registration and Wales Civil Registration

The GRO today is the section of the HM Passport Office responsible for the civil registration of births (including stillbirths), adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in England and Wales and for those same events outside the UK if they involve a UK citizen and qualify to be registered in various miscellaneous registers. With a small number of historic exceptions involving military personnel it does not deal with records of such events occurring within the land or territorial waters of Scotland, Northern Ireland or Ireland; those entities' registration systems have always been separate from England and Wales.

Ordering certificates

Website: Certificate ordering service
Telephone: +44 (0)300 123 1837 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday. Saturday 9am to 4pm)
Postal address:
Certificate Services Section
General Register Office
PO Box 2


St Mary-le-Strand church and the North Wing of Somerset House (1836)

The GRO was located in the North Wing of Somerset House from 1837 until 1970 when it was moved to St Catherine's House. For a short time after the move the death records were stored at Alexandra House, until room was found for all the records at St Catherine's House.

In 1997 the GRO staff were relocated to Southport, while public access to the records and registers was made available at the new Family Records Centre in Clerkenwell. This facility was jointly operated by the TNA so that public access to census returns was also available at the same location. The FRC was closed in 2008, in response to steadily decreasing visitor numbers caused by the increased online availability of the records.