The General Register Office (GRO) is running a pilot enabling entries of birth, marriage, and death to be delivered in PDF format, rather than through the post.  The cost per entry is £6 by PDF and £9.25 by post.  I thought I would give it a try.

Although I had no requirements related to Andrew’s Kindred, I have been researching the strange career of William Gerry, a soldier commemorated among the dead of World War I, but who died on 27 November 1919.  I will tell what I can of his story separately.

My first attempt to order a PDF record was thwarted by, in my opinion, the daft insistence on an email address as an unchangeable username.  PDF files, the website says, may only be sent to the email address used to register.  But the address I registered with no longer exists!

I got around this by registering a new account with a current email address.  It was straightforward enough and I duly ordered the entry of death on 16 October.  This morning (19 October) I received an email saying that my order was ready.  As instructed I logged in to my account and there was the PDF file ready to download.  The file size is 175 KB.

This could not be simpler and, over time, the reduced price could save some family historians a considerable amount of money.  My papers are still in storage, so I am unable to count how many I have obtained over the years, but there must be a hundred.  Even if you just order birth, marriage and death for one married couple you would save £16.25 (supposing they only married once).

The content is not the same as the full A4 size record with different colouring for birth (red), marriage (green) and death (aptly black), and I imagine some folk will want to obtain a paper copy for presentation purposes.  For my money, though,  what really matters is the detail, which is clearly presented.  I recommend like-minded researchers to try out this pilot, which runs “from 12 October 2017 …  for a minimum of 3 months to enable GRO to assess the demand for this service over a prolonged period”.

Here is a link to the GRO website.

It should be noted that a PDF copy of your birth certificate cannot be used to support an application for a drivers license, passport, or other official documents.

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