Information contained on birth, marriage and death certificates

Coronavirus: Important information

Please read the following information before progressing:

Death and stillbirth registrations: All death and stillbirth registrations are now carried out by a telephone appointment. You do not need to attend the register office in person. For more information see our death registration guidance.

Marriage and Civil Partnerships: We are currently dealing with a high volume of ceremony amendments and we aim to respond within 6 working days. A request for a new ceremony booking can be made from Monday 20 July 2020. We currently have availability for new marriage or civil partnership bookings to take place from September 2020 onwards. Please note that it may take up to 10 working days to respond to your new booking enquiry. Please see our marriage and civil partnerships guidance for further details.

Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership: If you have a marriage or civil partnership booked to take place in the next 3 months and you are a Surrey resident, you can book your notice appointment at Guildford, Leatherhead or Weybridge Register Offices from Monday 6 July 2020.

Birth registrations: Appointments are now available to book at Guildford, Leatherhead and Weybridge Register Offices. We are looking forward to seeing you but we have a large backlog of births to register, so please bear with us as we try to offer as many appointments as is safely possible. Guildford and Leatherhead offices are now fully booked until end of August but there are still appointments available at Weybridge office during August. If you are registering a multiple birth, please complete the birth enquiry form and we will assist you in making an appointment.

New parents can register their baby with a GP practice without a birth certificate.

Claims for Child Benefit and Universal Credit can be made before you register the birth. Visit the Child Benefit and Universal Credit pages for details on how to make a claim.

Certificates: We are currently running a limited service and are only able to process copy certificate applications that are essential, such as for legal proceedings, job recruitment etc. We can issue a maximum of five certificates per person. Please do not apply for certificates for the purposes of family history research at this time. If you require certificates for other purposes, please contact the General Register Office who should be able to supply certificates for you.

Citizenship ceremonies: From 6 July 2020 we will be contacting those citizens that have been affected by the lockdown to discuss your citizenship arrangements.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

We can provide copy certificates of any of the birth, death or marriage entries that we hold in our archives. They can provide a wealth of information in the researching of your family tree.

Birth records

These will state the exact date and place of birth of the individual, the name and place of birth of the mother, and where applicable, her maiden name. If a father has been included on the entry, then his name and place of birth is also recorded.

Helpful tips:

  • Sometimes a person is known by a forename that appears on a birth certificate as a second name eg. you may be looking for Emily Smith, but her birth registration may actually be Alice Emily Smith. If you are unable to find the entry you are interested in, it may be worth widening the search a little to consider this point.
  • Sometimes the ages on the census records are not quite accurate as no proof was required when information was collected - it was not uncommon in the early records for someone to not actually know their age! Therefore if you are using the age from a census record in order to locate the birth entry and cannot find it, widen your search a little to allow for a little variation!

Marriage records

These records will state the full names of the couple. It usually also states their residence, their occupations and the date and place of the marriage. But sometimes the more useful information relates to the inclusion of the names and occupations of the fathers of the couple, enabling you to explore a further generation or to prove sibling relationships.

Helpful tips:

  • Sometimes the marriage takes place after the birth of the first child, so if you are struggling to find an entry of marriage but have a birth date of a child of the couple, widen your search dates to include after the child's date of birth.
  • Sometimes, if a woman has been married more than once, the name on the certificate may be different to what you were expecting; search using the groom's name instead as it was less likely that his name changed.
  • Early records sometimes do not state the exact age of the couple; instead that they were of 'full age' ie; legally old enough to marry. You may have to widen your search when looking for their birth entries as the marriage certificate alone will not indicate their exact age in order for you to calculate the year of birth.

Death records

These records will state the date and place of death, age, occupation, final residence and cause of death of the deceased. It will also include the name and relationship of the person notifying the authorities and sometimes can give an indication on whether a spouse is still alive.

Helpful tips:

  • The registration occurs in the area where the person died. It is possible that they passed away when they were not at home, so widen your search if you are not finding the record in the area you are expecting.
  • If an inquest was involved, it may have taken time (sometimes months or years) for the registration to have been completed; try a wider search of the date in order to find the record.

Missing records

Whilst registration of births, deaths and marriages became possible in 1837, it was not enforced until 1875 and therefore some between these times may have been 'missed' and will not appear in our archives.

If a birth, death or marriage took place outside of the county of Surrey or overseas, we will not have the entry in our archives as we only hold records of those actually happening in our area.

Additional facts to note

  • Try a different spelling of the name as sometimes, if the person registering was not able to read or write, the registrar would have to put his interpretation of the spelling onto the registration. This may explain why we have such a mix of spellings of names in existence today!
  • If the person registering was not able to read or write, then the registrar would ask the person to mark a cross in place of a signature. Then the registrar would write 'The mark of' and the name of the person registering in order to record their consent to the registration.

We try to scan as many records as possible (if no errors are contained in the original entry) when producing a copy certificate. If you purchase a certificate from us, it may be that you receive an image of the original registration so you can view exactly as it appears in our archives and see the actual writing or mark of your ancestors!