Civil registration

Irish civil registration

covers birth, marriage and death records.

Irish civil registration provides the foundation of genealogical research in Ireland as birth, marriage and death records help us to identify family groups. Furthermore, as these are government records (not church records), these ‘vital records’ often provide accurate documentation of our ancestors’ lives.

Irish genealogy records often survive undamaged – something not often possible with records dating back so far!

Locating Irish civil records presents one of its main obstacles due to Ireland’s partition in 1922.

Historical resources are divided between GRONI (General Register Office of Northern Ireland) in Belfast and GROIreland (General Register Office of Ireland), which has its main office located in Roscommon but offers personal visits at its Research Room in Dublin – full contact details can be found below this page.

Providing you already have an idea of when, where and the name of your ancestor’s birth, marriage or death occurred in Ireland civil registration resources, finding these life events is relatively straightforward and you may even obtain copies of certificates related to them.

Step-by-Step Guide to Accessing Irish Civil Registration Records

Family historians researching their ancestry since 1845/1864 should find the information in the visual above (click it for a larger view in pdf) sufficient to locate relevant records of birth, marriage and death. Below is also a more in-depth step-by-step guide that may assist.

Have Northern Irish Ancestry?

If your family originated from Northern Ireland’s counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry-Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh or Tyrone, visit the Northern Ireland Civil Registration page.

Step 1: Check the Dates Irish civil registration began in 1845 with the recording of weddings (civil and religious) performed outside Roman Catholic churches; from 1 January 1864 all births, marriages (including those performed within Roman Catholic churches ) and deaths must also be registered.

Genealogists refer to births, marriages and deaths (BMDs) as events which constitute part of an ancestral tree.

If the birthdate you seek falls before 1845/1864, church records may hold vital information that may assist with your search.

If you’re uncertain as to where your ancestors’ county falls today, refer to the Counties of Ireland pages.

Step 2: Indexes You can search the online Irish civil registration indexes at these websites:

IrishGenealogy provides free births indexes dating back 100 years; marriage indexes to 75 years; and death indices up to 50 years (Northern Ireland counties are limited to 1921 only). FamilySearch indexes go as far back as 1958 (with Northern Ireland counties limited to end 1921 only). Both indexes offer free services.
Ancestry Index to 1958 for Northern Ireland counties ending in 1921. Fee/subscription required. FindMyPast Indexes from 1958 for births, marriages and deaths for Northern Ireland counties from 1841. Fee/subscription required.
GRONI Family History – Pay to view an index, transcriptions or copy certificates dating back up to 100 years, 75 year marriages and 50 year deaths (only applicable in Northern Ireland counties).
Search the indexes offline by making personal visits to either Dublin or Belfast Public Research Rooms (please see addresses below).

Gain more insight into each resource here.

Step 3: Quoting the Reference After discovering an entry of interest, create the full GRO Index Reference consisting of five to six elements as indicated above.

Surname of the Event; Event Year and Quarter of Incursion (not necessary in all years… see Indexes); Volume number and Page number in which event was registered
However, when using database, Group Registration ID plus Surname are sufficient.

Discover more about creating the GRO Index Reference.

Step 4: Copies of Register Entries and Certificates Please make note of:

Most researchers will opt for purchasing a research copy (i.e. a photocopy of register entries) when researching events that took place prior to 1921 and/or since 1922 in Republic of Ireland.
If you know the GRO Index reference/Group Registration ID for the birth registration you want to research, a research copy can be purchased for just EUR5 from GRO Roscommon or any local registration office within Ireland. There is no online purchase facility but applications may be sent by email – download a research copy application form and follow its instructions for processing it.
If you don’t know or can’t quote the reference, a research copy may still be applied for by providing as much information as possible; GRO staff will then attempt to locate your register entry. offers an online ordering service for full official copies of birth, marriage and death certificates that spans all years up until now for events registered in counties in Republic of Ireland as well as 1921 events registered in Northern Ireland counties now known as Northern Ireland counties. Unfortunately you must first gather a lot of information in order to place your order! For full details click here and postal service only delivery options apply here.
GRO Roscommon offers an offline service for full-blown official copies of birth, marriage and death certificates dating back to 1845/1864. Download an official certificate application form and follow its instructions – currently EUR20 (June 2019) plus postage costs; postal services only.
RootsIreland does not contain images of Irish civil registration registers; rather it provides transcriptions of register entries from certain areas (not all districts/counties/years are available). Subscriptions of various lengths (24 hour available).

General Register Office, Convent Road, Roscommon Co Roscommon TEL +353(0)906632900 for Postal Services Only; there are no public research facilities provided here (step 4 for more details).

GRONI (General Register Office of Northern Ireland, NISRA Colby House Stranmillis Court Belfast BT9 5RR. Tel: 0300 200 7890). Visitors who book ahead for either of the GRONI public search rooms (preventative booking is essential) or PRONI search rooms can view index/register entries spanning Northern Ireland from 1845-1864 to current. Online indexes/register entries cease being searched 100 years ago for births, 75 years for marriages, and 50 years ago for deaths; more information can be found on GRONI on its Northern Ireland civil registration page.
PRONI:The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland can be found at 2 Titanic Boulevard in Belfast; for more information visit the Northern Ireland Civil Registration Page (link above).

Discover more about Irish civil registration records:

> Ireland’s Birth Records and their Contents

Irish marriage records (civil) – one of the easiest and most satisfying ways of discovering information –

How have Irish names changed since civil registration began?

> When researching birth, marriage, and death records that date before Irish civil registration began, Church Records can be invaluable in uncovering your family history. Learn how you can trace family tree through Irish Church Records here.