The General Register Office (GRO) is that part of the government of the United Kingdom that deals with the civil registration of births, marriages, Civil Partnerships and deaths in England and Wales. It was founded in 1836, created by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (6 & 7 Will. 4 C A P. LXXXVI), and civil registration commenced in 1837. Its head is the Registrar General. The most distinguished person associated with the Office in the nineteenth century, although never its head, was William Farr.
In 1972, the GRO became part of the newly created Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS), with the Registrar General in overall charge. Until then, it had several statistical functions, including the conduct of population censuses and the production of annual population estimates. All these were moved elsewhere in the new organisation. The GRO then became just one division within OPCS, headed by the Deputy Registrar General.
Then in 1996, the OPCS and therefore the GRO became part of the newly created Office for National Statistics, and the office of Registrar General was merged with that of Head of the Government Statistical Service.
There are equivalent offices for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The responsibility of all three general register offices covers the registration of births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths, and also that of stillbirths and adoptions.
The General Register Office also supply copies of birth, marriage, civil partnership certificates and death certificates. These copies may be obtained either online, via the Family Records Centre or from a local register office.
- General Register Office for England and Wales
- General Register Office for Scotland
- General Register Office for Northern Ireland
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