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General Register Office (GRO) Searches – An Ellis & Ellis Explainer

What is the General Register Office (GRO)?

In 1845, under the Marriages (Ireland) Act 1844, legislation was enacted to regulate the solemnisation and registration of Protestant and civil marriages in Ireland. This act led to the establishment of the General Register Office (GRO) and the appointment of a Registrar General to oversee the registration. system. In 1864, in a drive to centralise and standardise vital records, the scope of registration was expanded to include births, deaths, and Roman Catholic marriages.

Over the intervening 160 or so years the General Register Office (GRO), which today operates under the auspice of the Department of Social Protection, became the principal repository for records relating to births, stillbirths, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in Ireland. 

As part of its other ongoing functions and responsibilities are such tasks as compiling and providing related statistical data for governmental and research purposes, providing official certificates, and supporting genealogical research by maintaining and making available historical records to the public for family history research.

The Registrar General remains to this day responsible for managing and controlling the Civil Registration system in Ireland. However, the Health Service Executive (HSE), under the Civil Registration Act 2004, is responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the Civil Registration Service (registration of all births, deaths and marriages) through a network of local civil registration offices across the State.

It is against these registers held by the General Register Office (GRO) that Ellis & Ellis conducts searches for civil status documents.

What records can be searched in the General Register Office?

Typically, we conduct searches in the research facility at Werburgh Street, Dublin 2, including for the purposes for family genealogical research.

Searched Indices include the following:

  • Births registered in the island of Ireland between 1st January, 1864 and 31 December, 1921 inclusive, and in Ireland (excluding the six north-eastern counties of Derry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh and Tyrone known as Northern Ireland) from 1922 onwards.
  • Deaths registered in the island of Ireland between 1st January, 1864 and 31st December, 1921 inclusive and in Ireland (excluding Northern Ireland) from 1922 onwards.
  • Non-Roman Catholic Marriages registered in the island of Ireland between 1st April, 1845 and 31st December, 1863 inclusive.
  • Marriages registered in the island of Ireland between 1st January, 1864 and 31st December, 1921 inclusive and in Ireland (excluding Northern Ireland) from 1922 onwards.
  • Domestic Adoptions registered in Ireland from 10th July, 1953 onwards.

Why might a solicitor request a search for Birth, Death, and Marriages certificates?

As children mature into young adults, inevitably they will require a birth certificate as proof of identity for various purposes, such as opening a bank account, accessing social services, registering to vote, obtaining a passport for travel, entering the formal job market, and purchasing or inheriting property, etc. Typically, it is for the latter purposes that we can be requested to source a birth certificate.

In turn, with marriage certificates there are a number of common drivers for requesting copies such as Passport and Visa changes, divorce and adoption applications, updating life’s various accounts (utility companies, household bills, bank accounts, life policy and other Insurance) after a name change, and more typically if applying for finance or settling the estate of a deceased person.

Likewise, there are several reasons why solicitors might need us to obtain a death certificate such as assisting their clients in accessing pension benefits, claiming life insurance, proving the death of a previous partner for remarriage, or arranging a funeral.

However, more typically we are requested to obtain death certificates as part of settling estates in probate or for conveyancing purposes (transfers and/ or Land Registry first registration requirements).

With conveyancing, death certificates (apart from confirming someone’s passing) can be used as a potential investigative aid to bridge ‘chain-of-title’ gaps in the Registry of Deeds records. That is, by identifying the correct death certificate, it can perhaps lead on to sourcing any registered will and grant and thus detail the Legal Personal Representatives (LPRs) information thereon*.

How to request searches for Birth, Deaths and Marriages in the General Register Office (GRO)?

While an obvious rule of thumb is ‘the more information supplied the better’, there are some basic requirements that change depending on which of the Birth, Deaths and Marriages registers are being researched.

For identifying birth records ideally, we need (a) the name of the person born, (b) the date of birth (minimum of year required), (c) Parents names, and (d) an address (minimum of county required).

For finding deaths records we need (a) the name of the deceased, (b) the date of death (minimum of year), and (c) their address at the time of death, with a minimum requirement of a county in which they died.

For locating marriage details we need (a) both parties names (Mother’s maiden name), (b) the date of marriage (minimum of year), an (d) place of marriage (if possible) with a minimum requirement of a county in which they married.

Note 1:  Certificates of birth, death, marriage, civil partnership or stillbirth can be obtained upon request.

* Note 2: – If any properties/ rights/ interests that were in the possession of a person at the time of death, they cannot be transferred afterwards under the deceased person’s name with the ROD. That is, only their Legal Personal Representatives (LPRs) may act as a grantor in these instances.

Use a trusted Law Search provider

With our fast and easy-to-use ordering platform at www.ellis.ie , over 130 years of expert know-how, and a terrific after-sales experience, we provide clients with an expert searching service. 

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