Irish Civil Registration
Birth, marriage and death records
Irish civil registration forms the backbone of genealogical research in Ireland because birth, marriage and death records help us to identify family groups. Being 'Government' records (not church records) these Irish 'vital records' are often the most accurate documentary evidence of our ancestors' lives and they also survive intact. And it's not often that can be said of Irish genealogy records!
The only complication in locating Irish civil registration records results from the division of Ireland in 1922. Resources are split between GRONI – the General Register Office of Northern Ireland – which is in Belfast, and GROIreland – the General Register Office of Ireland – which has a Research Room in Dublin for personal visitors but has its HQ in Roscommon. Contact details are at the foot of this page.
If you already know the names, approximate date and location of your ancestor's birth, marriage or death, finding these life events in Irish civil registration resources and obtaining copies of relevant certificates is relatively easy.
See the Infographic (right) for BASIC details of how Irish family historians can research their ancestors through this collection of records.
Full guide to Accessing Irish Civil Registration Records below.
Ancestors from Northern Ireland?If your family came from counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry-Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh or Tyrone, you'll find GRONI's online service for Northern Irish civil registration records quicker and easier to use.
For the majority of family historians searching for their ancestors since 1845/1864, the details in the infographic above will be sufficient to guide them to the relevant records of births, marriages and deaths. Below is a more detailed step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Dates Check the relevant dates. Irish civil registration started in 1845 with the recording of non-Catholic marriages and civil weddings held at local register offices. From 1 January 1864, all births, all marriages and all deaths had to be registered. If the bmd you seek dates from before 1845/1864 you will have to seek out the relevant church records.
Related pages/Brief overview
The Irish civil registration system was introduced in April 1845 but was initially restricted to non-Catholic church weddings and civil weddings held in register offices.
Only in January 1864 did it become obligatory to register all births, marriages and deaths with the local authorities.
Registrations were collated according to Superindent Register Districts, now known as local registration districts, by county.
GRO – General Register Office, Dublin/Roscommon
GRONI – General Register Office Northern Ireland, Belfast.
See Addresses at foot of page.
See the Counties of Ireland pages if you're not sure whether your ancestors' county is north or south of the 1922 border.
- FamilySearch – Records to 1958. Free
- Ancestry – Records to 1958. Pay to view or subscription required
- FindMyPast – Records to 1958. Pay to view or subscription required
- RootsIreland – Pay to view
- GRONI Family History – Pay to view. Northern Ireland bmds only. Births to 100 years ago. Marriages to 75 years ago. Deaths to 50 years ago.
- IrishGenealogy – Births to 100 years ago; Marriages to 75 years ago; Deaths to 50 years ago. Free.
You can search the indexes OFFLINE by making personal visits to the Public Research Rooms in Dublin and Belfast (see Addresses below).
Step 3: Reference Having found a registration entry of interest in the index, you create the full GRO Index Reference. Historically, this is made up of five or six elements: Surname; Year of the event; Quarter of the year in which event took place (not required for all years... see Indexes page); SRD/District/Poor Law Union where event registered; Volume number; Page number.
Alternatively, if you are using the IrishGenealogy.ie database, the Group Registration ID, if one is available, will suffice.
Step 4: Certificate Please note the following:
- Most researchers will choose to purchase a 'research copy' of the bmd certificate (ie a photocopy of the original register entry).
- If you have the GRO Index reference/Group Registration ID, you can order a 'research copy' of the bmd registration for just €4 from GRO Roscommon.
- If you don't/can't quote the reference, you can still apply for a 'research copy' by providing as much information as possible; GRO staff will then make a search for you and you'll be charged €6 (€4 for the copy cert and €2 for the search).
- You cannot order/request research copies online. You have to download an application form here and post it to GRO Roscommon with credit card details or Euro cheque.
- If you want an image of the certificate emailed to you, provide your email address, otherwise a photocopy will be sent by post.
- Some researchers will want to obtain a full-blown copy of the certificate. This can be done by downloading the same application form (link above) and posting it to GRO Roscommon. The cost is €20 (July 2014). Postal service only.
- There is also an online ordering service at certificates.ie but it doesn't cover all years. See details on the site.
- General Register Office, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon, Co Roscommon. Tel: +353(0)90 663 2900. No public research facilities. Postal service only. See Step 4 above for more details.
- GRO Research Room, Werburgh Street, Dublin 1. Hours 9.30-4.30 Mon to Fri. Applications in person only. For a fee, the Irish civil registration index books can be searched here and 'research copies' purchased. See Indexes page.
- General Register Office of Northern Ireland, Oxford House, 49/55 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4HL, UK. Tel: +44 (0)28 9151 3101. Researchers can visit the public search room (need to book in advance), order by post or, since 31 March 2014, use the 'extended' online search-and-view service. Find out more on the Northern Ireland civil registration page.
- Ireland's birth records and the information they contain
- Irish marriage records (civil) – often the easiest and most satisfying to discover
- Irish deaths
- How much have Irish names changed since civil registration was introduced?
- If you are looking for birth, marriage and death records dating from before the Irish civil registration system started, you need to see if Church Records can help you. Find out how to trace family history through Irish parish registers.