If you’ve paid an excessive amount of money for birth, marriage, or death certificates (BMDs) you may have been fooled into believing you were placing your order through the GRO when in fact you were purchasing from an unofficial third party website.

The latest news from the British Identity and Passport Service, which is responsible for the General Register Office (GRO), has very recently reported that the Advertising Standards Authority has now taken action against third party certificate websites. Three separate complaints from the Register General regarding third party websites misleading customers into believing they were actually ordering certificates from the GRO have been upheld.

Three sites have been warned that they were in breach of Committee of Advertising Practice code and must stop appearing or implying that they are the General Register Office. The offending websites are: 

  • UK Official Services
  • UK GRO Certificates
  • Vital Certificates

Customers applying for replacement birth certificates have been charged up to £74.99 (GBP) = $118.591 (USD) for an unofficial ‘express’ online service with the same express service through Directgov is £23.40 (GBP)=$37.05 (USD). And the standard certificate service is available through DirectGov is £9.25 (pounds Sterling).

The same express service is via the official IPS certificate ordering website through Directgov

www.direct.gov.uk/gro. The standard certificate service is available for even less – £9.25 (GBP) =$14.65 (USD).

Registrar General Sarah Rapson, said:

The Advertising Standards Authority has sent a very clear message to customers and those companies that mislead them: there is just one official online certificate ordering service for England and Wales.

It is always quicker, cheaper and safer to deal directly with the General Register Office for certificate orders.

‘While other outlets can be found online, there is no reason to pay over the odds and I would urge customers to look at the official site first before ordering anywhere else.

Here’s important information about the new number for certificate ordering:

IPS has adopted a 0300 prefix for its GRO certificates enquiry number. The prefix 0300 replaces the 0845 prefix used in the previous number.

From 5 January 2012 IPS stopped publishing the 0845 603 7788 number for members of the public who wish to make an enquiry about, or place an order for, certificates. Customers who previously contacted IPS via the 0845 number are now being asked to use 0300 123 1837. This is a particularly memorable number as civil registration was introduced in England and Wales in the year 1837.

0300 numbers are exclusively reserved for charities and the public sector and for the majority of customers the cost of calling us will be reduced. Calls made to 0300 numbers from landlines and mobile phones are charged to customers at their network provider’s national rate and also form part of the inclusive minutes within the customer’s call package in the same way as calls to geographical numbers.

Click on DirectGov to visit the official website.

The information for this post was received through the UK Society of Genealogists .

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