Certificate tutorials

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Certificate Tutorial Guides

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Certificates form an important part of genealogy research. Without them it is difficult to prove relationships and dates with accuracy, and there comes a time when you will need to order certificates to enable your research to continue.

The following guides give information about certificates for events in England/Wales and also for events in Scotland.

England/Wales certificates cover the period from July 1st 1837 to the present day. In Scotland the first certificates were issued in 1855 and continue to the present day.

Types of certificates

There are three types of "event" which result in a certificate being issued:

  • Birth Certificates are issued when a birth is registered
  • Marriage Certificates are issued when a marriage takes place
  • Death Certificates are issued when a death is registered

Visual guides and information relating to certificates

Separate sections guide you through birth, marriage and death certificates, with visual extracts and guides to the columns and entries found on certificates.

The guides can help you to understand how and why an entry may appear.

Please remember

The information recorded on a certificate is only as accurate as the information given by the informant. Age at marriage or death are examples of information that may not be what you expect. In some instances you have to accept that the information may not quite match with other documentation you have.

Another point worth remembering is that parents were only legally obliged to register their offspring's births from 1875, so if you can't find a birth registration before that, then it's probably because the birth wasn't actually registered.

There are also sections giving information about where and how you can order certificates, along with some guidance on the process of ordering certificates from the numerous sources available.

An index to other pages with information about certificates can be found here: All About Certificates

Certificate Exchange

  • Unwanted Certificates If you have unwanted certificates, please post the details here - you may even find the one you have been saving up to purchase...