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Northern Ireland civil registration records

Ancestors from Northern Ireland?
BMD research in the six counties

Civil registration records for Northern Ireland


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During the week commencing 13 November 2017, the free state-managed IrishGenealogy.ie updated its database of birth, marriage and death records.

Although the availability of free bmd records has improved, the overall picture for the beginner researcher is more complex than it used to be, so the guidance in this Civil Registration section of Irish Genealogy Toolkit needs to be thoroughly reviewed and, probably, presented in a different way. This will be done as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please bear in mind that the details below may be out of date.


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Hands Across The Divide, LondonDerry City.

On 31 March 2014, the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) launched an online search and pay-to-view database for historical birth, marriage and death records. It includes births, marriages and deaths registered in the six counties of Northern Ireland: Antrim, Armagh, LondonDerry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone.

The records date back to the introduction of Ireland's civil registration system in April 1845 (for non-Catholic marriages only) and January 1864 (for births, deaths and Roman Catholic marriages). The records survive intact and provide one of the most accurate collections of data on our Irish ancestors' lives.

If you already know the names, approximate dates and location of your ancestor's birth, marriage and death within the relevant timeframe, it should be relatively easy to obtain copies of the relevant registration record.

Historical background

As stated above, the civil registration system dates back to 1845/1864.

It was introduced across the entire island of Ireland at a time when Ireland was part of Britain. Life events were registered locally, collated regionally, and sent to the General Register Office in Dublin where they were indexed.

The Partition of Ireland: Following the partition of Ireland in 1922, a new General Register Office was set up in Belfast to administer a Northern Ireland civil registration system covering just the six counties.

While the General Register Office in Dublin retained the historical civil registration records for the six counties, a complete set of copies was sent to Belfast.

In brief
Copies of the historical birth, marriage and death certificates from 1845/1864 to 1921 inclusive can be obtained from either the GRO facilities in Belfast (GRONI) or the GRO in Dublin/Roscommon.

Northern Ireland civil registration records from 1922 onwards are available only from GRONI.

How to access Northern Ireland civil registration records
You have three options – the online Historical Records Database/GRONI online, the GRONI Public Search Room's Database, or, for records up to 1921 only, the search facility used in the Republic.
  • Historical Records Database/GRONI Online – Pay-to-view – Online. Legislation dictates that the term 'historical records' is a rolling concept, as follows:

    • Births – from 1864 to 100 years ago (ie 1917 in 2017; 1918 in 2018 etc)
    • Marriages – from 1845 (1864 for RC marriages) to 75 years ago (ie 1942 in 2017)
    • Deaths – from 1864 to 50 years ago (ie 1967 in 2017etc)


  • Public Search Room's Database – Personal visitors only. This facility is not on the Internet and can be accessed only at GRONI's Public Search Room in Belfast (address in right-hand column). There is no 'historical records' restriction. This computerised system holds Northern Ireland civil registration records as follows:

    • Births – 1864 to date
    • Marriages – 1845 (1864 for RC marriages) to date
    • Deaths – 1864 to date
    • Adoptions – 1931 to date
    • Civil partnerships – 2005 to date


  • GRO Ireland – Mostly manual system.

    • Records up to the end of 1921 only.
    • Indexes are online. Search index to find registration reference and then apply for a 'research photocopy' of the certificate. Postal service to Roscommon. For more details see the main Irish Civil Registration page.




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GRONI address and contact details

General Register Office (GRO)
NISRA
Colby House
Stranmillis Court
Belfast BT9 5RR.

Telephone: 0300 2007 890 or (+44(0) 28 9151 3101 if you are calling from outside Northern Ireland)

To book an appointment to use the Public Search Room, send email to gro.nisra@dfpni.gov.uk or telephone.

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