North of Ireland Family History Society

One to look out for! Good news about forthcoming online service for birth, marriage & death records from Northern Ireland

February 7, 2014 at 1:04pm

Firstly a little background: in Ireland, civil registration started in 1845 for some marriages & was extended in 1864 to cover all births, marriages & deaths, so those are the starting dates for records that GRONI holds (the General Register Office for Northern Ireland).

GRONI have in recent months started to reach out to the community & if you have been at one of their talks then you’ll have heard about their imminent new search system, but have you seen the legislation about proposed prices? For everyone else, there are some more tempting details available about the new online search facility for Northern Irish BMD records.

Recent Wednesday lunch-times have seen a well-attended series of family history talks at PRONI. This week’s talk was by Alistair Butler from GRONI. In the main, the talk covered information about how GRONI can help genealogists grow their family trees. Later the talk covered the fact that GRONI spent about 3 years & a lot of money digitising their records. A by-product of the registration efficiency-drive, is that GRONI will shortly be able to offer a “ScotlandsPeople” type service to genealogists. After the talk, a little on-line digging for the legislation showed that the proposed costs seem VERY favourable compared to the existing situation.

The draft legislation “The General Register Office (Fees) Order (Northern Ireland) 2014” was published on 24th January & has yet to be approved by the Assembly.  However, if it remains unchanged, it seems that the earliest the new fee structure, & therefore presumably the new system, can go live is 10th March 2014. Going back to the talk, Alistair did say that the new system is currently undergoing testing & that while there is no firm release date yet, he did hope that the system will go live before April. He said that there will be extensive publicity about the go-live date & also noted that detailed help notes will be available.

  • The index includes ALL the bmd records that have been registered with them from 1845/64.
  • For those not visiting the GRONI offices but searching from home, only “historic” records will be available. This means: births – over 100 years, marriages – over 75 years, deaths – over 50 years.
  • More recent records, ie right up to current registrations and after the 100/75/50 year cut-off dates for online access, will be available via computers in the Search Room at GRONI in Belfast.
  • The basic index search will be free & has limited details such as the year of the event & some names to hopefully narrow down the results. An enhanced search is chargeable & will show the actual date as well as more names & details such as ages.  You can then decide whether or not to pay to view the actual record.
  • There will be an option to automatically search for name variants eg to search for Smith & Smyth in case different spellings were used.

And now for the best bit! The draft legislation shows that the proposed costs for the on-line records are much lower than current prices (albeit current prices are for an official, stamped paper certificate).

  • For anyone who visits the GRONI offices, the cost of using the Search Room facilities will reduce from £14 to £7 per day. The current verification process will be replaced by personal access to records via the computer terminals, ie this should be much quicker.
  • According to the draft legislation, the basic index search will be free, the enhanced index search will cost 1 credit (£0.40) and viewing an actual record will cost 5 credits (£2.00)
  • It also seems that the search element of the current fee for an actual certificate will be removed as the price of a certified paper certificate will drop from £15 to £8 (if ordered on-line quoting its unique reference number).

In other words, it will, in the very near future, be much simpler, quicker & cheaper to trace ancestors from Northern Ireland than ever before! Fantastic news!


Link to the draft legislation:

About CJ Murdoch

Looking For "Dead People"! My Journey Back In Time - Tracing my ancestors and researching the counties, cities and towns where they resided. Taking a “Glimpse” into their lives and stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash”! “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning – to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us... I didn't ask enough questions when elderly family were still living. Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen! I'm researching many family lines, including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson and Elvin; just to name a few. My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry. However, it seems that many of them, both maternal and paternal lines, originally hailed from Co. Donegal. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and now live in Ottawa, Canada, making frequent trips back home to visit with my family. Of course those visits also include treks to the many burial grounds of my ancestors. My most recent trip back home was during the summer of 2019! Looking forward to August of 2020 when I will return. If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
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