10th April 2014

Hamilton launches new online service to mark 150th anniversary of birth and death records

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA today launched a new online service, for searching family history, to mark the 150th anniversary of birth and death records in Northern Ireland.

Before today’s new online service launch, family records could only be accessed in the public search room in the General Register Office for Northern Ireland, (GRONI) in Belfast. The new online service enables searches of civil records for births over 100 years old, marriages over 75 years old and deaths over 50 years old. All records to date are accessible from the public search room.

A complete civil registration system began in 1864. Vital life events including births, deaths and marriages were registered to inform Governments planning for public services including health and education.

Launching the new online service Minister Hamilton said: “The General Register Office and District Registrars have provided and continue to provide an invaluable service to the public, giving individuals and families information about family history since 1864. In marking 150 years of civil registration we have progressed from hand written records to a new online service, which facilitates searches of Northern Ireland’s historical records.

“As Finance Minister I have been promoting the need for Public Sector Reform as an essential element in the delivery of high quality public services to our citizens in the face of increasing expectations and reducing budgets. Engaging with the citizen and adopting more innovative ways of delivering services, as demonstrated through GRO’s new Family History online service, is an excellent example of this.”

Dr Norman Caven, Registrar General for Northern Ireland commented: “The new service offers the opportunity to search and view historical Northern Ireland civil registration records online. In addition, customers will be able to book an appointment at the GRO public search facility in Belfast where the new system will host the complete set of Northern Ireland civil registration records. More generally, customers will also be able to avail of an improved service for ordering Northern Ireland civil registration certificates online.”
The new ordering and booking service can be accessed via


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