Frequently Asked Questions.Throughout the life of this website, many questions are repeatedly asked. You may find the an answer to your query within this page. If not, please feel free to contact us using the e-mail link at the bottom of the page. However, please remember that we are volunteers running this website in our spare time, so we may not be able to respond to your question straight away.
Q. Why can't I find... ?
- A. The index is not complete - we still have a long way to go.
- A. The surname was spelt differently - try using one of the Soundex matching options.
- A. Although registration was meant to be mandatory from 1837, it was not until 1875 that people were fined for not doing so, hence some events (mainly births) may not have been registered.
Q. What areas are covered / not covered?
A. Each Local BMD site has a separate section for Births, Marriages and Deaths. The coverage page associated with each section list the years indexed for each area and the areas still to be transcribed.
Q. How do I contact the registrar ?
A. There are many registration districts, each with a registrar, which keep the records for their own areas. The GENUKI information pages give the addresses for them all.
Q. I've found a record here which is not in the GRO records, why ?
A. We work from the original records. Once every three months the records held at the local offices were transcribed and sent down to the GRO where they were then re-indexed. At each stage of this transcribing, copying and re-indexeing, errors could occur. Hence the local records are always going to be more accurate and more complete.
Q. Could a batch number be associated with each new set of data so
that I can request the search to only return newly added records ?
A. Yes it could, this idea has been considered but has not been implemented for several reasons:
- Space - we'd probably need a 4 digit number which would add significantly to the cost of our web site fees due to increased disk space requirements.
- It would add to already heavy work load that it takes to run this site : please remember that we do this in our spare time. (unless someone would like to fund my early retirement ... twenty years early ???)
- Speed - adding extra criteria to the search pattern would potentially slow down the search.
- When the indexes are complete, the batch numbers would no longer serve any purpose.
Q. How can I keep track of new additions ?
- A. Our updates page lists all the additions by category, areas and years.
- A. You can make use of the count value displayed at the bottom of the search results. Perform your required search and if you don't immediately find the record you are looking for, note the number of records found. When you see that there has been an update re-run your search and see if the count has increased, if so, you may be in luck when you examine the records this time.
- A. You can make use of the 'Output to file' option on the search form. Perform your search, saving the results on to your hard disk. The output file that the search creates should be readable by Wordpad and Excel (or any other spreadsheet program). When you believe that updates have been made, re-run the same search, again using the output to file option but making sure that the file is saved using a different name. You now have two files, old and new; and the aim is to compare them to spot the differences. On Linux or UNIX, this can be performed using the standard file compare utility: diff. On MS-Windows you will need to download a suitable file comparison tool, such as those available from Programmer's Heaven or from Shareware.com where you should search for diff. As always, we cannot take any responsibilty for any program downloaded from the web and you should always check such programs with your virus scanner before use.
Q. Why don't you add more information to the indexes?
A. The format of the registrar's indexes is prescribed by acts of parliament, and we would be breaking the law if we included more information than can be found in the local indexes.
Q. Can you help me with a genealogy query ?
A. We are sorry but we are not able to answer questions that are not directly related to this site and its contents. Help for general genealogy queries may be found on the GENUKI web site.
Q. My county wishes to produce a BMD site too, can you help ?
A. Yes, all the code used to produce this site is freely available to other FHSs and councils and we will try to help you as much as we can. Contact us, as detailed below.
Q. What are the IRCs that are mentioned on the certificate application forms ?
A. IRCs are International Reply Coupons. These should be available from post offices all over the world, and when you send them overseas they can be exchanged for stamps in the country concerned. But if your post office has never heard of them, it is suggested that you just add £1 to the cost of your certificate to cover return postage.
Q. What is the Security Code mentioned on the certificate application forms ?
A. Enter the three digit security code which is printed just above the signature panel in reverse italics on the back of your credit card. Usually it is preceded by all or part of your credit card number
Q. Are there any other BMD sites ?
A. A list of all known BMD sites can be found at UKBMD's Local BMD page. If you wish to add a link to this page, please contact us, as detailed below.
Q. What is the reason for the local BMD sites seemingly duplicating the FreeBMD site?
A: The FreeBMD site works from the GRO records, whereas the local BMD site work from the original register office records. It's worth considering how each set of records originate: Since the start of civil registration in 1837, when a birth, marriage or death occurred, the event has had to be recorded at the local register office. It is from these original records that the local BMD sites work. Every three months, these local records have then been re-transcribed, sent to the GRO where they were copied and re-indexed once again. At each point where data are copied and re-indexed, there is scope for errors and omissions. The level of errors and omissions has been the subject of a book by Michael Foster called A Comedy of Errors.
No index can ever claim to be 100% accurate or complete, but by working from the original records, the local BMD sites hope to remove many of the problems highlighted in this book.
The FreeBMD site offers the advantage, however, of covering the whole country in one site, so will allow you potentially, to find ancestors where you may not have considered looking.
Q. I have the GRO reference number for a certificate, can I use this at a local register office?
A: Not directly. The local register offices have their own numbering system which differs from the GRO's. For example, in marriages, the GRO system identifies only the region, whilst the local reference number would identify the church (or other venue) for the marriage.
However, knowing the year and quarter from the GRO indexes would allow the local registrars to speed up a search for the original local certificate.
Q. How much do certificates cost?
A: Certificates cost £10.00 from the local Register offices. See the GRO web site for price information regarding certificates from the GRO.
Q. Where can I get more information about starting to trace my family tree?
Q. Where can I get more information about the details on BMD certificates?
Q. How are the various BMD sites funded?
A: Each BMD site has its own means of funding, some by the local Family History Society, some by the local councils. Joining the local Family History Societies involved with the local BMD sites will enable them to continue funding these and other genealogical projects.
Q. Can you help with my family history query?
A: Sorry, no. My expertise is developing web sites. (Yes, there's only one person behind the UKBMD website itself.) There is plenty of advice on GENUKI on how to solve family history puzzles.
Q. The text size on this site is too small, can you change it?
A: UKBMD uses a standard text size. This means that size of the text is under your control, and hence allows the visually impared the chance to view the UKBMD site without any problems. Look for an item in the browser's drop down menus, such as MSIE's Text Size under the View menu and set your text size to a larger value.
Occasionally, it may be that your browser / operating system combination is dangerously out of date and so to avoid risk of hackers attacking your PC and to cure the text size issue, you should upgrade your browser and/or operating system. UKBMD recommends FireFox as a suitable browser to upgrade to.
Q. How do we contact you ?
A. Please send your comments or queries regarding this web-site via the Contact Us page.