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frequently asked questions
Thursday, 23 October 2014

If you have a specific question which is not answered below or from the information given on our web site, please contact us via our contact form

We only supply certificates and documents for events registered within England or Wales. To obtain birth, marriage and death certificates for other areas of the United Kingdom we recommend the following links:

Scotland - GROSCOTLAND
Northern Ireland - GRONI
Channel Islands - STATES OF JERSEY REGISTRAR

  • General
  • Birth
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Wills
  • Apostille
Q Is your web site secure, is my personal information safe? We strictly adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998. Please see our Privacy and Policy statements for further information.
Q Are the documents that you supply official? Yes, all documents are official as issued by the relevant Government department and include the seal of the issuing Government department.
Q Why do you not require formal identification before supplying a certificate? Birth, marriage and death certificates are a public record of the event. We hold a registration number with the General Register Office which allows us to apply for certificates without the need for further authorisation. We have a strict policy of not supplying certificates when we consider the application might be fraudulent.
Q Can you amend the details on a certificate? No. Certificates are issued according to the information supplied at the time of registration. This information cannot be changed by us. A formal request for an amendment should be addressed to the Registrar General via the local register office where the event was registered.
Q Can I collect a document in person from your office? Due to the nature of our work, we often need to leave the office at short notice to collect and order documents. For this reason, we can only offer a postal delivery service.
Q Can I rely on the timescales given for the issuing of a document? Our stated times for the issuing of documents are accurate at the time of ordering. These are continuously monitored to reflect any current or expected delays that may arise from the service provided by the various Government departments. The only time when this may differ is if an incorrect or poor copy of a document has been issued. In this case we would inform you promptly and explain the reason for the delay.
Q Can you explain the various delivery options? We use the delivery services provided by the Royal Mail. Further information can be found via the Royal Mail web site at www.royalmail.com
Q What are your courier delivery options? We employ the services of Fedex and DHL for international courier delivery and determine which courier company to use according to the fastest delivery time available on the day of despatch. Your document(s) will be despatched on the day of issue, we will then advise by email the name of the courier company, the tracking number and expected delivery date. Please note: We are unable to provide an expected delivery date until your order has been collected by the courier, however the average delivery time to Europe is 2 working days, other destinations 3-4 working days. These times are in addition to our stated times for the issuing of the document(s).
Q I want to order a number of various documents and require courier delivery, do I need to pay the courier fee for each separate order? No. An order can be placed for one particular type of document and the option for courier delivery should be chosen (first order). Normal airmail delivery should then be chosen for any subsequent orders . In this case we would ask that you write “Courier Delivery” in the field for additional information and supply your order reference number for the (first order). Please notify us by email once you have placed your orders. Please note: This arrangement can only be used if all documents are ordered on the same day and delivery is to the same overseas address.
Q I am trying to place an online order and keep getting the message “no cookies found”? We use non-persistent cookies on our web site for the sole purpose of collecting the information supplied with your order. Your web browser must be set to allow cookies for this purpose. Please refer to your internet browser’s help section for specific instructions or telephone us to place your order.
Q Do I need to report the loss of my original certificate? There is no formal requirement for reporting the loss or theft of an original certificate. Various Government agencies now have a facility for reporting the loss or theft of important documents. Further advice is given via the Home Office web site at www.identity-theft.org.uk/who-can-help.htm
Q I need to use the document overseas, can the document be supplied in a different language? All documents that we supply are in English only. Various companies offer a specialist translation service and these can be found via a web search, alternatively the UK embassy or consulate in the country concerned can supply a list of official translators. We are happy to forward any document ordered from us to your preferred translator by prior arrangement.
Q Can I cancel an order? Unfortunately, we cannot cancel orders once they have been placed. In order for us to adhere to our stated timescales all orders are processed as soon as they are received. Please see our terms & conditions for further information.
If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q Is your web site secure, is my personal information safe? We strictly adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998. Please see our Privacy and Policy statements for further information.
Q Are the certificates you supply official? Yes, all certificates are official and issued by the relevant Government department, they include the seal of relevant Government department and are printed on watermarked paper. These can be used for all official purposes including passport, driving license, pension applications etc.
Q Are the birth certificates long form? Yes, all birth certificates that we supply are the long form (full) version which include full birth information including parents names. This is the format now required for passport, driving license applications etc.
Q Why do you not require formal identification before supplying a certificate? Birth, marriage and death certificates are a public record of the event. We hold a registration number with the General Register Office which allows us to apply for certificates without the need for further authorisation. We have a strict policy of not supplying certificates when we consider the application might be fraudulent.
Q Can you amend the details on a certificate? No. Certificates are issued according to the information supplied at the time of registration. This information cannot be changed by us. A formal request for an amendment should be addressed to the Registrar General via the local register office where the event was registered.
Q Do I need to report the loss of my original certificate? There is no formal requirement for reporting the loss or theft of an original certificate. Various Government agencies now have a facility for reporting the loss or theft of important documents. Further advice is given via the Home Office web site at www.identity-theft.org.uk/who-can-help.htm
Q I need to use my certificate overseas, can the certificate be supplied in a different language? All certificates are supplied are in English only. Various companies offer a specialist translation service and these can be found via a web search, alternatively the UK embassy or consulate in the country concerned can supply a list of official translators. We are happy to forward any certificate ordered from us to your preferred translator by prior arrangement.
Q The birth took place overseas, can you still supply a copy of the birth certificate? Yes, for births registered up until 1994 only, but only if the birth was registered with the relevant UK authorities overseas, the parents were British citizens and a copy of the certificate has been deposited with the General Register Office for England and Wales. If a parent was a serving member of the British Armed Forces overseas then we can normally supply a certificate without any difficulty. If you are unsure, we would be happy to conduct a search, free of charge, prior to you placing an order. Please email us prior to placing an order.
Q I do not have all the information required on your order form, can you still supply a certificate? If the birth was registered within the last fifty years, you must supply all the required information, this is to help prevent ID fraud. In most other cases we can still supply a certificate, even if the exact date of the event is unknown. Please email us with the information you have available prior to placing an order.
Q What is a GRO reference (General Register Office index reference)? This is the reference that we use to identify the correct birth entry for the purpose of applying for a certificate. It is not the same as any reference number given on an actual certificate and usually takes the form of the year, registration quarter, registration district, volume number and page number. Example: 1945, June, St. Austell, 5c, 678 It is not necessary for you to supply us with this information as we obtain this based on the information supplied with your order.
Q If a GRO reference is not required, why do you include this field on your order form? This field can be used when all or part of the information required is not known i.e. if the parents names and/or exact date of birth is not known. In such cases, only the full name of the person and the full GRO index reference can be supplied. This is especially useful when a birth certificate is required for family history and you have obtained the index reference from your own research. Please note: If the birth was registered within the last fifty years, you must supply all the required information even if the GRO reference has been supplied. If you have supplied a GRO index reference, the certificate relating to this reference will automatically be issued by the General Register Office regardless of any other information that you have stated on the order form. No refunds can be given if the certificate issued does not match with any other information supplied or if it does not match with any information you already know.
Q What information is stated on a full birth certificate ? The main headings on a full birth certificate (England & Wales) include: The year in which the birth was registered, the registration district and sub-district and County.When and where born, Name, Sex, Name and surname of father (if stated), Name, surname and maiden surname of the mother, Occupation of the father (if stated), Signature, description and residence of the informant, When registered, signature of the registrar, Any name entered after registration. Birth certificates issued after 1969 also include details of the place of birth for both parents.
If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q Is your web site secure, is my personal information safe? We strictly adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998. Please see our Privacy and Policy statements for further information.
Q Are the certificates you supply official? Yes, all certificates are official and issued by the relevant Government department, they include the seal of relevant Government department and are printed on watermarked paper.
Q Why do you not require formal identification before supplying a certificate? Birth, marriage and death certificates are a public record of the event. We hold a registration number with the General Register Office which allows us to apply for certificates without the need for further authorisation. We have a strict policy of not supplying certificates when we consider the application might be fraudulent.
Q Can you amend the details on a certificate? No. Certificates are issued according to the information supplied at the time of registration. This information cannot be changed by us. A formal request for an amendment should be addressed to the Registrar General via the local register office where the event was registered.
Q Do I need to report the loss of an original certificate? There is no formal requirement for reporting the loss or theft of an original certificate. Various Government agencies now have a facility for reporting the loss or theft of important documents. Further advice is given via the Home Office web site at www.identity-theft.org.uk/who-can-help.htm
Q I need to use the certificate overseas, can the certificate be supplied in a different language? All certificates are supplied are in English only. Various companies offer a specialist translation service and these can be found via a web search, alternatively the UK embassy or consulate in the country concerned can supply a list of official translators. We are happy to forward any certificate ordered from us to your preferred translator by prior arrangement.
Q I do not have all the information required on your order form, can you still supply a certificate? In most cases we can still supply a certificate, even if the exact date of the event is unknown. Please email us with the information you have available prior to placing an order.
Q What is a GRO reference (General Register Office index reference)? This is the reference that we use to identify the correct death entry for the purpose of applying for a certificate. It is not the same as any reference number given on an actual certificate and usually takes the form of the year, registration quarter, registration district, volume number and page number. Example: 1945, June, St. Austell, 5c, 678 It is not necessary for you to supply us with this information as we obtain this based on the information supplied with your order.
Q If a GRO reference is not required, why do you include this field on your order form? This field can be used when all or part of the information required is not known. In such cases, only the full name of the person and the full GRO index reference can be supplied. This is especially useful if a death certificate is required for family history and you have obtained the index reference from your own research. If you have supplied a GRO index reference, the certificate relating to this reference will automatically be issued by the General Register Office regardless of any other information that you have stated on the order form. No refunds can be given if the certificate issued does not match with any other information supplied or if it does not match with any information you already know.
Q What information is stated on a death certificate ? The main headings on a death certificate pre 1969 (England & Wales) include: The year in which the death was registered, the registration district and sub-district and County. When and where the death was registered, name of the deceased, sex, age at death, last occupation, cause of death, description and residence of the informant, when registered, signature of registrar. Certificates issued after 1969 also include the full date of birth of the deceased and if female, the maiden surname of a woman who has married.
If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q I am not sure if I am divorced, can I still request a search?
An entry will only be listed in the central registry of Decrees Absolute if you have followed the correct procedure for divorce and the Decree Nisi has been made absolute. If you are unsure of this, then a search can still be requested. If no entry is listed within the requested search years a letter will be issued by the Court Service to certify that no trace has been found, you should then seek advice from your local County Court. In this instance our fee will still apply and the letter issued by the Court Service will act as the issued document.
Q Can a search be made under only one name?
No, unfortunately both names must be supplied including the woman’s maiden surname.
Q I cannot remember the exact spelling of a name or if there were any middle names, can a search still be made?
The exact and full names are required for the purpose of a search. If this information is not available a copy of the marriage certificate should be obtained first.
Q I require a certificate of divorce urgently, do you offer a priority service?
Unfortunately, we need to rely on the service provided by each individual Court. Once the divorce entry has been traced an application is made to the Court for a copy of the document, each application is dealt with in turn according to the workload of the Court. For this reason we cannot offer a priority service. In all cases we do our best to expedite the issuing of a certificate.
Q Can I request a search and obtain a divorce certificate if I am not the person named on the certificate?
Yes, once a decree nisi has been made absolute a copy of the decree absolute is made available as a public record. This document will state the names of both parties, the date and place of marriage and the date on which the decree was made absolute. It will not give information on the reason for the divorce or any other information.
Q Can I search the divorce register myself?
The divorce registers for England and Wales cannot currently be searched by members of the public. These are held at the Principal Registry for the Family Division in High Holborn, London. We personally visit the Principal Registry and pay for a search to be made.
Q Does your service only cover divorces for England and Wales
Yes, our service is only for a divorce made absolute within England and Wales. Please see below for other areas:

Northern Ireland:
Probate and Matrimonial Office
Family Division
Royal Courts of Justice
Chichester Street
Belfast BT1 3JF
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9032 8594

Scotland:
General Register Office for Scotland
3 West Register Street
Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Scotland
Tel: +44 (0) 131 334 0380

Jersey:
Jersey Court Service
Royal Court House
Royal Square
St Helier JE1 1JG
Jersey
Tel: +44 (0) 1534 441300

Guernsey:
H.M. Greffier
The Royal Court House
St Peter Port GY1 2PB
Guernsey
Tel: +44 (0) 1481 725277

If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q Is your web site secure, is my personal information safe? We strictly adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998. Please see our Privacy and Policy statements for further information.
Q Are the certificates you supply official? Yes, all certificates are official and issued by the relevant Government department, they include the seal of relevant Government department and are printed on watermarked paper. These can be used for all official purposes including passport, driving license, pension applications etc.
Q Why do you not require formal identification before supplying a certificate? Birth, marriage and death certificates are a public record of the event. We hold a registration number with the General Register Office which allows us to apply for certificates without the need for further authorisation. We have a strict policy of not supplying certificates when we consider the application might be fraudulent.
Q Can you amend the details on a certificate? No. Certificates are issued according to the information supplied at the time of registration. This information cannot be changed by us. A formal request for an amendment should be addressed to the Registrar General via the local register office where the event was registered.
Q Do I need to report the loss of my original certificate? There is no formal requirement for reporting the loss or theft of an original certificate. Various Government agencies now have a facility for reporting the loss or theft of important documents. Further advice is given via the Home Office web site at: www.identity-theft.org.uk/who-can-help.htm
Q I need to use my certificate overseas, can the certificate be supplied in a different language? All certificates are supplied are in English only. Various companies offer a specialist translation service and these can be found via a web search, alternatively the UK embassy or consulate in the country concerned can supply a list of official translators. We are happy to forward any certificate ordered from us to your preferred translator by prior arrangement.
Q My marriage took place overseas, can you supply a copy of my marriage certificate? Yes, for marriages registered up until 1994, but only if the marriage certificate has been deposited with the General Register Office. If you are unsure, we would be happy to conduct a search, free of charge, prior to you placing an order. If the marriage certificate has not been deposited with the General Register Office then a copy is only available via the local register office in the country where the marriage took place. Under the Foreign Marriage Order 1970, British nationals who marry in a foreign country may arrange for their marriage certificate to be deposited at the General Register Office in the UK. This is not compulsory and does not affect the validity of the marriage. This facility is not available for marriages which have taken place in Commonwealth countries. An informative guide as to the procedure for arranging for a marriage certificate to be deposited with the General Register Office is given at: www.weddingchaos.co.uk/wedding-abroad/wedding-abroad-legal.asp
Q I do not have all the information required on your order form, can you still supply a certificate? In most other cases we can still supply a certificate, even if the exact date of the event is unknown. Please email us with the information you have available prior to placing an order.
Q What is a GRO reference (General Register Office index reference)? This is the reference that we use to identify the correct marriage entry for the purpose of applying for a certificate. It is not the same as any reference number given on an actual certificate and usually takes the form of the year, registration quarter, registration district, volume number and page number. Example: 1945, June, St. Austell, 5c, 678. It is not necessary for you to supply us with this information as we obtain this based on the information supplied with your order.
Q If a GRO reference is not required, why do you include this field on your order form? This field can be used when all or part of the information required is not known i.e. If only one name is known and/or if the exact date of marriage is not known. In such cases, only the full name of the person and the full GRO index reference can be supplied. This is especially useful when a marriage certificate is required for family history and you have obtained the index reference from your own research. If you have supplied a GRO index reference, the certificate relating to this reference will automatically be issued by the General Register Office regardless of any other information that you have stated on the order form. No refunds can be given if the certificate issued does not match with any other information supplied or if it does not match with any information you already know.
Q What information is stated on a marriage certificate ? The main headings on a marriage certificate (England & Wales) include: The year in which the marriage was registered, the registration district and sub-district and County. When and where married, full names, age at the time of marriage, condition (bachelor, spinster, divorced etc.), occupations, residence, fathers full name and occupation‘s, signatures and witness signatures.
If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q What is probate?
When a person dies somebody has to deal with their estate. A legal document called a Grant of Representation is usually required in order to get authority to do this. If this is the case then we can supply a sealed copy of the Will and/or a sealed copy of the Grant (Letters of Administration).

Three types of Grant of Representation exist :

Probate
Issued to one or more executors named in the Will (In this case a sealed copy of the Will and Grant will be supplied)

Letters of Administration (with Will)
Issued when there is a Will but the executors named in the Will are no longer able or willing to apply for a Grant of Representation (In this case a sealed copy of the Will and Grant will be supplied)

Letters of Administration
Issued when no Will has been made or if the Will is invalid. (In this case a copy of the Grant only will be supplied) A grant of representation is not always required and if no grant was issued then no entry will exist in the Probate indexes. This is usual if the whole of the estate is held in joint names and passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

Q How long does it take for a grant to be issued?
There is no definitive timescale, this depends on how quickly the executors act on obtaining a grant and if any complications arise during this process. A minimum of one month from the date of death should be allowed before a search is made, however we advise to wait at least four months or until you know that a grant has been issued. In some cases a grant is issued a number of years after the date of death.
Q I know a Will was made, why have you found no entry?
1. A search was made from the information supplied with your order, was this information correct?
2. A grant of probate has not yet been issued.
3. A grant of probate was not required for the purpose of administering the estate. A grant of probate is generally not required if the estate is small or if the majority of assets are held jointly. In such cases, any will that was made may never become a public record.
Q I supplied an exact date of death, why did you search five years beyond this date?
The probate indexes are arranged in yearly volumes according to the year any grant was issued, not by year of death. We conduct up to a five year search in case a grant of probate was issued some years later.
Q I do not know the exact date of death, can you still conduct a search?
The minimum amount of information we require is the full name of the deceased, an approximate year of death and the last known address or area. If only an approximate year of death is known, we will search two years either side. You should clearly state on your order that the year of death supplied is only approximate.
Q Why have you only supplied a copy of the grant (Letters of Administration) and not a copy of the will?
If a matching entry is listed in the probate indexes, then we automatically obtain any available document(s). When no will has been made or if the will was invalid a copy of the grant is the only document available as a public record.
If we have not answered your specific question below, please see our GENERAL FAQs or feel free to contact us.
Q. What is legalisation? Legalisation is the official confirmation that a signature, seal or stamp appearing on a document is genuine.
Q. Why do documents need to be legalised? If you are going to use British documents overseas, for business or personal reasons, you will probably be asked to have your documents legalised before they can be accepted. If you are not sure what documents need to be legalised you should contact the authority or organisation which requires the documents.
Q. How does the Common & Foreign Office legalise documents? They check the signature, seal or stamp that appears on the document against their database and then attach an apostille (legalisation certificate) which confirms it is genuine. This certificate is then embossed with the seal of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. An example of this certificate is included on our apostille page.
Q. I want to order more than one copy of the same document and they all need to be legalised, your order form only allows for an apostille to be attached to one copy, can you help? Yes, if more than one copy requires legalisation, please contact us. We can then arrange to take additional payment over the telephone.
Q. I already have my document, can I still use your service to obtain an apostille? No, we only offer this service for documents that we have obtained on your behalf.
Q. Can I obtain an apostille myself? Yes, by post or in person. Further information is given at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office web site: www.fco.gov.uk We provide this additional service to save you time and to ensure that the document is not lost or delayed. We take the document to the FCO in person and wait for the apostille to be attached, which usually incurs a waiting time of up to two hours.

 

   
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