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General Register Office indexes

Every birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership or death registered in England or Wales has a General Register Office (GRO)

Every birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership or death registered in England or Wales has a General Register Office (GRO) index reference.

It usually consists of the year, volume number, page number and district in which the event was registered.

The GRO may require an index reference if you need to order a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate.

Accessing GRO indexes

The Archives Centre provides access to the General Register Office's published indexes of births, marriages and deaths on microfiche.

Some early indexes can be searched online via FreeBMD, or Visitors to the City of Westminster Archives Centre can also search all indexes apart from the most recent ones through our subscription to Ancestry and FindMyPast on the Westminster libraries' family history page.

UK indexes

  • Births: September 1837 to September 2023
  • Marriages: September 1837 to 2021
  • Civil partnerships: 2005 to 2022
  • Deaths: September 1837 to September 2023

UK adoption records

We hold the indexes for adopted children from 1927 to 2021. For further information, GOV.UK has helpful pages on tracing birth relatives.

Overseas indexes

These start earlier, as they contain many regimental and army chaplains' returns. Deaths include war deaths between 1914 to 1921 and 1939 to 1948.

  • Births: 1761 to 2021
  • Marriages: 1796 to 2021
  • Civil partnerships: 2005 to 2021
  • Deaths: 1796 to 2021

For opening hours and location details, please see our Visitor information page. Copies of the GRO indexes are also available in London at the British Library.

We do not have copies of the certificates. Once you have found the index reference for the certificate you require, you must order the certificate directly from the General Register Office.

Alternatively, for copies of Westminster, Paddington or St Marylebone birth, marriage or death certificates from 1837, visit the Westminster Register Office. To locate marriage certificates, the Register Office also requires the name of the building where the ceremony occurred.


We do not hold any records of stillbirths. For information about the stillbirths register, please contact the General Register Office directly. 

Divorce records

We do not hold any records of divorces. Information on getting a divorce and locating divorce records can be found on GOV.UK and National Archives websites.

Accessing GRO indexes at other record offices and public libraries

If you're not local to Westminster, you may find an index set available at a nearby local history centre or record office. To see a list of holders of the GRO indexes, visit GOV.UK.

Most public library services in the UK provide free access to the indexes via an online database subscription. Please get in touch with your local library service for details.

Published: 4 February 2021

Last updated: 23 January 2024