Improved system for civil registration

Date published: 16 February 2016

The General Register Office (GRO) will launch a new, more efficient system for civil registration in Northern Ireland on 22 February 2016.

Finance Minister Mervyn Storey at desk

The improved process for registering life events, such as births, deaths and marriages, will allow customers to carry out registrations more quickly.

Registration of life events is carried out on behalf of GRO by local councils, and the new technology which replaces an outdated system, will enable this to be delivered more efficiently and effectively. For example, the more sophisticated electronic process introduces electronic signatures, which will enhance customers' experience of the civil registration process.

Customers will continue to get a certificate at a reduced fee when they register an event in local government district offices.

Around 80% of customers already choose to order copy certificates online or over the phone. While copy certificates will no longer be available from local council offices, they can be ordered online, by phone or by post.

Customers using GRO's priority service under the new arrangements will have their certificate dispatched the same day, for a fee of just £5. This represents a significant reduction from the previous fee of £20 for this service using the old system.

To order a certificate or for more information:

The introduction of an improved civil registration system is part of GRO's commitment to provide quality services to Northern Ireland citizens. It builds on recent developments of digitised historical records, online certificate ordering and the family history website

Notes to editors: 

  1. The General Register Office (GRO) is responsible for the administration of the registration of births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and adoptions.
  2. Priority orders for copy certificates are dispatched the same day by first class post if ordered before 2:30pm.
  3. Standard applications for copy certificates are usually processed within 5 working days.
  4. Around 77,000 copy certificates are ordered from GRO annually.
  5. District registration staff carry out around 47,500 registrations annually.
  6. Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9081 6724 or 028 9081 6895. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.


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