Using the GRO database with an American credit card to download English birth/marriage/death records

Using the GRO database with an American credit card to download English birth/marriage/death records

Do you have ancestors or family connections from England or Wales from the mid-1800s? If so, there’s an inexpensive resource that may help with your research or even break through a brick wall – the U.K. General Register Office (GRO) online database, which contains all historical birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership and death registrations starting in 1837. You can use an American credit card (Visa or Mastercard) to download genealogy records.

Not only is the GRO index free to search, but it’s recently dropped the price to view/download images to £2.50, or about $3.25 at current exchange rates using an American credit card. Here’s what a full record looks like (edited to fit two rows):

UK GRO birth record sample 1800s

You may remember my Wallace brick wall, detailed in this newsletter earlier this month (now posted on the EasyGenie blog).

While I found an 1851 UK census index entry for a promising family on FamilySearch, I hesitated to confirm them as ancestors because the data was incomplete and didn’t completely match.

Birth records from the GRO cleared up the mystery – it wasn’t the right person (the father’s name was not a match for either brother).

Here are a few tips when using the GRO website to download BMD records:

  • The website is outdated, and cannot be effectively used on a mobile phone.
  • Immediately download a copy of any image you purchase, as getting a copy later requires locating the order number which expires after 3 months.
  • Do not use the default “Exact Matches Only” as many good matches will not be shown.
  • Leave “Districts” blank unless you are familiar with local English and Welsh geography and historical place names.
  • Order images, which are the cheapest option and can be downloaded immediately. PDFs and certificates are more expensive and take longer to process. £1 currently equals $1.29, but this value changes every day.
  • American credit cards do work, but some U.S. banks flag overseas credit card charges and may reject the transaction.

The GRO website is outdated, but it does the job. Visit the GRO website using this link. I’ve also included some important tips in my video tutorial, shown below.

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