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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find a collection of answers to common questions. If you can't find what you are looking for, please feel free to Contact Us.

Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Death Certificates
Adoption Certificates
Decree Absolutes (Divorce Records)
Wills
Apostille (Legalisation)
Delivery
Security
General


Birth Certificates

Are the certificates supplied 'long-form'?

Yes. All British Birth Certificates supplied are the long-form version. This means that they include full parents' details which are required for almost all official and legal purposes.

What information will I find on a birth certificate?

For all UK birth certificates you will find:

  • Registration district, sub-district and county
  • Full name of person born
  • Date of birth - please note this does not usually include the time of birth (see below)
  • Place of birth
  • Father's full name, if named
  • Mother's full name
  • Mother's maiden name (and any other previous names)
  • Father's Occupation, if named
  • Signature, description and residence of informant
  • Date the birth was registered
  • Signature of registrar
  • Date the certificate was produced

Is the time of birth included on the certificate?

The time of birth is not usually recorded. The exceptions to this are for twin births, and some Scottish registrations. Please note that where the time is not recorded, we are unable to provide this. The only place this may be recorded would be on medical records to which we do not have access.

The certificate is not mine. Can I order still?

Under UK legislation, birth certificates are designated as 'public records', and as such anyone can request a duplicate certificate to be produced. The only caveat to this is that for births that occurred within the past 50 years, the full details are required to be provided (which includes full date of birth, and parents' names including the mother's maiden name). This is to protect against identity fraud.

Which birth certificates are available?

Birth certificates registered in England or Wales are available from July 1st 1837 to the present day. For Scottish registrations, certificates have been available since 1855. For Northern Ireland it is 1864.

Can the certificates be used officially overseas?

Whilst the certificates are certified and legal copies of the original documents, some overseas authorities require that the certificate be 'legalised'. Please see the section on Legalisation. For the avoidance of doubt, you should check with the authority that is asking for the production of the certificate as to whether this is needed.

The birth was within the past 18 months. Can you still supply a replacement?

The short answer is yes. However, due to the peculiarities of the UK archive system, recent certificates may take slightly longer to obtain.

I don't have all the information. Can you still supply a copy certificate?

The required information depends upon when the birth took place. For events within the past 50 years, we require that all sections are completed on the application form. For events prior to 1958, we only require the full name (or at least forename & surname), date or year of birth, and ideally location. If the name is common, then additional information may be required to ensure that the correct certificate is reproduced. With any order, we will check up to a 5 year period. Should a wider search be required, we will contact you to arrange the necessary details.

Are the certificates suitable for passport and visa applications?

Yes. The certificates supplied are the 'long-form' version required for such applications.

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Marriage Certificates

What information will I find on a marriage certificate?

For all UK marriage certificates you will find:

  • Registration district, sub-district and county
  • Full name of groom
  • Full maiden name of bride
  • Age of both bride and groom
  • Date of marriage
  • Place of marriage
  • Rank or profession of bride and groom
  • Residence at time of marriage
  • Father's full name and profession for both bride and groom
  • Denomination of ceremony
  • Name and signature of two witnesses
  • Date the marriage was registered
  • Name of registrar
  • Name of official conducting marriage ceremony
  • Date the certificate was produced

The certificate is not mine. Can I order still?

Under UK legislation, marriage certificates are designated as 'public records', and as such anyone can request a duplicate certificate to be produced.

Which marriage certificates are available?

Marriage certificates registered in England or Wales are available from July 1st 1837 to the present day. For Scottish registrations, certificates have been available since 1855. For Northern Ireland it is 1864.

Can the certificates be used officially overseas?

Whilst the certificates are certified and legal copies of the original documents, some overseas authorities require that the certificate be 'legalised'. Please see the section on Legalisation. For the avoidance of doubt, you should check with the authority that is asking for the production of the certificate as to whether this is needed.

The marriage was recent. Can you still supply a replacement?

We can only supply marriage certificates up to 2006. Please note that marriages registered in 2006 may take slightly longer to reproduce as the central index records are not yet available and a manual search is required. For marriages since 2007, you will need to approach the church or register office local to the event to obtain a copy.

I don't have all the information. Can you still supply a copy certificate?

We only require the details for either the bride or groom, the date or year of marriage, and the place or area where the marriage took place. If the person's name is common, then additional information may be required to ensure that the correct certificate is reproduced. With any order, we will check up to a 5 year period. Should a wider search be required, we will contact you to arrange the necessary details.

Are the certificates suitable for official purposes?

Yes. The certificates supplied are certified copies of the original and are legally submissible.

Can you supply me with a marriage licence?

No. You will need to liaise with the church, or local register office where you intend to marry, who will inform you of the process prior to marriage.

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Death Certificates

What information will I find on a death certificate?

For all UK death certificates you will find:

  • Registration district, sub-district and county
  • Full name of the deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Sex
  • Maiden name if previously married
  • Place and date of birth
  • Full name of the informant
  • Relationship of informant to deceased
  • Address of informant
  • Cause of death
  • Name of coroner where applicable
  • Date of registration
  • Name of registrar
  • Date the certificate was produced

Can anyone order a death certificate?

Under UK legislation, death certificates are designated as 'public records', and as such anyone can request a duplicate certificate to be produced.

Which death certificates are available?

Death certificates registered in England or Wales are available from July 1st 1837 to the present day. For Scottish registrations, certificates have been available since 1855. For Northern Ireland it is 1864.

Can the certificates be used officially overseas?

Whilst the certificates are certified and legal copies of the original documents, some overseas authorities require that the certificate be 'legalised'. Please see the section on Legalisation. For the avoidance of doubt, you should check with the authority that is asking for the production of the certificate as to whether this is needed.

The death was recent. Can you still supply a replacement?

Whilst we can supply a copy certificate to the present day, please note that deaths registered since 2007 may take slightly longer to reproduce as the central index records are not yet available and a manual search is required.

I don't have all the information. Can you still supply a copy certificate?

We only require name of the deceased, location where the death was registered, and approximate year of death (unless very recent). If the person's name is common, then additional information may be required to ensure that the correct certificate is reproduced. With any order, we will check up to a 5 year period. Should a wider search be required, we will contact you to arrange the necessary details.

Are the certificates suitable for official purposes?

Yes. The certificates supplied are certified copies of the original and are legally submissible.

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Adoption Certificates

I am an adopted person. Do I need a birth certificate or adoption certificate?

This depends on the reason for requiring the certificate. If you need the certificate to prove identity, then you should request an Adoption Certificate, which replaces a Birth Certificate for adopted persons. If you are looking for information to do with your natural birth, this can be found on your original birth certificate. Please note however that we would need the details of your original birth name before we were able to supply a copy of your original certificate.

Can you help me find my natural parents?

Unless you know your natural birth name, it is unlikely we can assist you with this. You should contact the Adoptions Section at the General Register Office in Southport on +44 (0)151 471 4830 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday). This service is available to persons aged 18 or over.

Are the certificates supplied 'long-form'?

Yes. All adoption certificates supplied are the long-form version. This means that they include adopted full parents' details which are required for almost all official and legal purposes.

What information will I find on an adoption certificate?

For all UK adoption certificates you will find:

  • Registration district, sub-district and county of birth
  • Full adopted name of person born
  • Date of birth - please note this does not usually include the time of birth
  • Adoptive Father's full name
  • Adoptive Mother's full name
  • Address of adoptive parents
  • Occupation of adoptive parents (not always shown)
  • Date of Adoption Order
  • Court where the adoption was administered
  • Date the entry was registered
  • Signature of the appointed officer
  • Date the certificate was produced

The certificate is not mine. Can I order still?

Provided that you can provide the necessary information, anyone can request a duplicate certificate to be produced. The only caveat to this is that for persons born within the past 50 years, the full details are required to be provided (which includes full date of birth, and adoptive parents' names). This is to protect against identity fraud.

What dates are records available from?

Adoption certificates registered in England or Wales are available from January 1st 1927 to the present day. For Scottish registrations, certificates have been available since 1930. For Northern Ireland it is 1931.

Can the certificates be used officially overseas?

Whilst the certificates are certified and legal copies of the original documents, some overseas authorities require that the certificate be 'legalised'. Please see the section on Legalisation. For the avoidance of doubt, you should check with the authority that is asking for the production of the certificate as to whether this is needed.

The adoption was within the past 18 months. Can you still supply a replacement?

The short answer is yes. However, due to the peculiarities of the UK archive system, recent certificates may take slightly longer to obtain.

Are the certificates suitable for passport and visa applications?

Yes. The certificates supplied are the 'long-form' version required for such applications.

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Decree Absolutes (Divorce Records)

Are these documents suitable for marriages and residency applications?

Yes. The divorce documents supplied are prepared by the UK courts system and are valid to prove no impediment to marriage, and to support residency claims.

Can the documents be used officially overseas?

Whilst they are certified and legal copies of the original documents, some overseas authorities require that the document be 'legalised'. Please see the section on Legalisation. For the avoidance of doubt, you should check with the authority that is asking for the production of the document as to whether this is needed.

The decree is not mine. Can I still order a copy?

Under UK legislation, Decree Absolutes (Divorce Decrees) are designated as 'public records', and as such anyone can request a duplicate document to be produced.

The marriage was dissolved in Scotland. Can you provide copies?

Yes. Prior to the 1st May 1984, divorces in Scotland, known as a Decree of Divorce, were recorded against the original marriage entry. For divorces that were notified to the Registrar General on or after that date, the event was recorded in a separate Register of Divorces from which a copy extract is taken.

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Wills

Can I request a copy of a will for a recent death?

Yes. Please bear in mind however that it make take a number of months before a will is lodged with the government archives. As an alternative, it is possible to put a 'Standing Search' in place for recent deaths, or where the will is expected to be lodged within a matter of months. A Standing Search is an ongoing search where the records are continuously checked for a period of 6 months. Please state this is your preference at the time of order (in the Additional Information section as you go through the checkout process.

What if no will can be found?

It is always possible that a will has not been lodged against the deceased person's estate. In these cases, you will be notified that no trace has been found. Unfortunately we are unable to refund fees where no trace is found.

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Apostille (Document Legalisation)

What is meant by 'Document Legalisation'?

The process of legalisating a document is to add an 'Apostille' to the reverse of the document. This is a signed declaration that the document has been officially been reproduced by the correct authority. In addition to the declaration, a raised seal is placed on the document. This process is carried out by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Do I need an Apostille/Legalisation?

Legalisation of a document is typically required where there is a need to present an official certificate to a country other than the one that issued the certificate. You are likely to require this any time you are presenting the document to a non-British authority. This would include applying for a Visa, Drivers Licence, Passport, Medical Registration etc in your home country (outside of the UK). It is our experience that you would not typically need legalisation if you are applying to an overseas British authority such as a British embassy or High Commission. If in doubt you should check the requirements with whoever you need to present the document to.

We offer both UK (Apostille) and overseas consular legalisation.

Which Countries accept an Apostille?

The following countries recognise and issue Apostilles for the international legalisation of documents. These are collectively known as 'member countries of the Hague Apostille Convention'.

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, China (Macau & Hong Kong), Colombia, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Republic of, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Republic of, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, FYR of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela.

What is the difference between Legalisation and Attestation?

These terms are used mutually to mean the same thing. Essentially this is the process of validating documents by one country or another. Frequently this will need to be carried out by multiple countries on the same document such as the country of issue and the country where the document is being presented. If in doubt, contact us for more details or to discuss your individual requirements.

Which documents can you legalise?

Our service will allow you to legalise, or attest, any UK-Issued document for use outside the UK. This includes the following document types:

  • Birth, Marriage, Death or Adoption Certificates
  • Decree Absolute or Divorce Documents
  • Probate, Wills, Affadavits and Letters of Administration
  • Education Certificates including Degree Qualifications, GCSE, GCE, A-Level and O-Level Certificates
  • Certificate of No-Impediment (CNI) or Single-Status Declarations
  • Criminal Records Bureau or Disclosure Scotland Certificates
  • Notarised Power of Attorney
  • British Passport (Certified Copy of the photo page
  • Companies House Documents
  • Export Certificates
  • Translations (Signed by a Notary Public)
  • Medical Documents
  • County-Court Documents

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Delivery & Shipping

What delivery options do you offer?

We offer a range of delivery options depending upon your requirements. Vital Certificates is the only organisation to offer a scanning service whilst you wait for the delivery of the original document. Just choose 'Scan & Send' when you order. We are also the only UK organisation to provide online ordering of cost-effective courier delivery of certificates. For our full current range of shipping options, along with delivery times, please see our Delivery page.

When will my Scan & Send order arrive?

The scanned copy will be emailed on the day that the original is posted to you. Please note that the certificate will be ready according to whatever service speed you have chosen (excluding delivery) and cannot be emailed beforehand.

Can you ship to a different address to where I live?

Absolutely. We can arrange for your certificate to be delivered anywhere worldwide.

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Security

How secure is this website?

All sensitive payment pages are encrypted with a minimum of 128-bit SSL technology, exactly the same as is used on most Internet banking websites. Vital Certificates does not capture any credit card information, so your details are completely safe. When a payment is processed via one of our partners, you are dealing directly with the UK banking system so your details remain safe at all times.

How do you handle my information?

Vital Certificates respects your privacy and will NEVER misuse or pass personal information to any 3rd-party. If you would like to read our Privacy Policy, you can find this here.

Who are SagePay?

SagePay (formerly Protx) provides secure online credit and debit card payment solutions for thousands of online and mail order businesses across the UK. SagePay, a division of Sage (UK) Limited is registered in England under no. 1045967 and its registered office is at North Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE13 9AA.

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General Questions

What is 'Scan & Send'?

Scan and Send provides a scanned copy of your document via email whilst you wait for the original to arrive in the post. For genealogical research, this means that you get the information you want from the certificate without waiting for the original to arrive. Please note that we will always send the original as well as the email.

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