Search GRONI's online records

Below are tips on how to search for births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships, adoptions and World War Two deaths. There’s a free name search, however to carry out further searches and see the details, you'll need to register first and then buy credits.

Free name search

You don’t need to register or log in to use the 'General Register Office Northern Ireland' (GRONI) free name search. This search will return the number of records that match in each of the registration types which are birth, death or marriage. 

You may search a five year range for example 1868 to 1872 if you don’t know the exact year. 

Use the free name search via the link below:

If you want to carry out further searches of the records and see the details, you'll need to register first. More below.

Getting started with further searches 

If you want to carry out further searches of the records and see the details, you must first register for a GRONI account:

Once you've registered for a GRONI account, you can then buy credits to search GRONI records via the link below. 

If you need help, contact GRONI:

About buying credits

To search for records, both online and in GRONI's Public Search Room in Belfast, you need credits in your account. You can buy credits when you're logged in to your GRONI account. 

You use credits to search and view records, view indexes (including basic indexes) and to view images. 

A credit costs £0.50. You can hold up to a maximum of 200 credits.

You need a minimum of one credit in your account before you can search the records.

You can pay for credits using a credit or debit card. Most major credit and debit cards are accepted, including Visa, MasterCard,Visa Debit, Maestro UK, Solo and JCB.


You cannot buy certificates using credits. To order a certificate, you pay by credit or debit card. You can pay in cash if you are in GRONI's Public Search Room in Belfast or order them online if you know the details:


There are no refunds for credits.  Make sure that you enter the right amount of credits you want to buy.   The maximum amount is 200 credits for every account.

If you are dissatisfied with the quality of the information you viewed, for example an image is illegible, contact GRONI.

In exceptional circumstances, refunds may be issued for certificate purchases. Usually GRO will retain the search fee included in the certificate price to cover processing costs. Provide full and accurate information when applying for a certificate. 

Credit use

If you do not use or top up credits for a period of 24 consecutive calendar months, your account will be closed. Any unused credits will be lost. You will receive reminders by email before your account is closed. If you use credits or top up your account it will stay open for another 24 calendar months from this date.

How to search

To search the records, you must enter at least a surname together with a date which can be:

  • the exact date of event
  • a year
  • a range of years (up to a maximum of five)

You can add other information to refine your search. The civil registration types are:

  • births
  • deaths
  • marriages
  • civil partnerships
  • adoptions
  • World War II deaths

The information which you can use to search is shown below for each civil registration type:


  • child's surname
  • child's first forename
  • child's date of birth, year of birth or birth range
  • Sex of child
  • mother's maiden surname
  • registration district
  • registration subdistrict


  • deceased's surname
  • deceased's first forename
  • Sex of deceased
  • deceased's date of birth
  • deceased's date of death, year of death or year of death range
  • registration district
  • registration subdistrict

Registration districts when searching birth or death records

When you search for a birth or death record before 1 October 1973, you have the option to search by subdistrict. The subdistrict option is not available after this date because local government boundaries changed. From 1 October 1973, council districts are the only districts available for searching.


You can only search by one spouse using the:

  • bride or groom's surname
  • bride or groom's first forename
  • date of marriage, year of marriage or year of marriage range
  • registration district

World War II deaths

  • deceased's surname
  • deceased's first forename
  • deceased's date of death, year of death or year of death range

Advice when searching

If you are tracing your family history, collect information that is readily available and likely to be accurate, and use this as your starting point. Elderly relatives can be an invaluable source of information about previous generations.

Record your findings

As you progress with tracing your family history you will start to gather a lot of information. Make sure you record your findings so that your work is not wasted.

GRONI note taking tool - My Notes

The GRONI note taking facility, ‘My Notes’ is a useful tool which you can use as you search the indexes either in the public search room or online.

Notes are deleted from your GRONI account after 72 hours. If you are using the internet to access GRONI, make sure you export or print your notes before they are deleted.

If you are taking notes using ‘My Notes’ in the public search room, you will not have the option to export or print your notes. However, if you access your GRONI account later using the internet, you will be able to export or print your notes, as long as it is within the 72 hour period.

Refine your search

When you search GRONI you will get the total number of results that match the information you enter. As the system can only show a maximum of 200 results at once, you should search using as much information as possible.

For a common name such as John Smith, it may help to reduce the years searched if you know the date or year of the registration. You can also select other search fields such as sex and district.

If you searched using a surname and date, the search results will list in alphabetical forename order. For example, if you searched for a birth using the surname Smiley but no forename, the search results will be:

  • Aaron Smiley
  • Benjamin Smiley
  • Brian Smiley
  • Cara Smiley

If sex is entered as female in this example, the search will return just one result:

  • Cara Smiley

If a forename is entered and the start of a surname, for example Aaron Smi (see additional search functions), the order will be:

  • Aaron Smiley
  • Aaron Smith

Additional search functions

There are several ways to refine your search if you are having difficulty finding a record you should consider:

  • equals – if you select this option, the result will only return exact matches
  • begins with - if you search using the first three letters of a name, the result will be all names beginning with those letters
  • variants - the result may return possible variants - a search for Smyth may also return Smith - however the variants available are not exhaustive


Spelling can be the key to unlocking your family history. While some names have remained the same over the years, others have changed beyond recognition.

In the early 1900s when many people could not read and write, the registrar recorded the name and registered what they heard. A name such as Smith could have been recorded as Smyth, Davison as Davidson, White as Whyte, or McDonald as MacDonald.

Forenames can also have variants. The following are possible variants:

  • James/Seamus
  • John/Jack/Jackie
  • Mary/Maureen/Marie/Maria
  • Nancy/Agnes
  • Margaret/Maggie/Peggy

Illegible names

There are several reasons why names may not have been recorded for example if the name is illegible and has been impossible to capture for the index. In these cases ‘not captured’ has been inserted to allow searching. For example, if you are searching for a George McDonald that you know was born in 1868 but cannot find the record, it may be worth replacing the forename with ‘not captured’.

It is also common in the case of older records that a birth was registered before the forename of the child was agreed. In these cases ‘not captured’, together with the surname, may help you find the record.

This will also be the case for the forenames and surnames of some foundlings (an abandoned baby where the parents are unknown).

Old handwriting

Handwriting has changed considerably since registration began. As a result, you may find that writing in some of the older records is difficult to understand. One of the most common examples of this is the formation of the letter ‘s’, especially when a double ‘s’ is present. In these cases, the first ‘s’ resembles the letter ‘f’ or ‘p’.


Registrars, particularly in the case of older records, sometimes recorded names (usually forenames) using abbreviations common at the time.

Examples such as Jno for John, Jas for James, Saml for Samuel and Alexr for Alexander are all fairly common, especially in the 19th century. However, less common ones such as Xtian for Christian also occur.

Common abbreviations

The table show some common abbreviations.

Letter Name Abbreviation Name Abbreviation
A Abigail Abig Abraham, Abram Abr
  Agnes Agn Alexander Alex
  Alfred Alf Ambrose Amb
  Andrew And Anne, Anna, Ann An
  Anthony Ant Arthur Art
  Augustus Aug    
B Barbara Barb Bartholomew Bart
  Benjamin Ben Bridget Brid
C Catherine, Katherine Cath Charles Chas
  Christian Xtian Christopher Chris
  Clement Clem Constance Const
  Cornelius Corn Cuthbert Cuth
D Daniel Dan David Dav
  Deborah Deb Dorothy Dy
E Edmund Edm Edward  Edw
  Elizabeth Eliz, Elz Eleanor, Helena Elnr
  Emmanuel Eman Esther, Hester Esth
  Ezekiel Ezek    
F Ferdinand Ferd Frederick Fred
G Gabriel Gab Geoffrey, Jeffery Geof
  George Geo Gertrude Gert
  Gilbert Gilb Godfrey Godf
  Gregory Greg Griffith Grif
H Hannah Han Henry Hen
  Herbert Herb Hester Esth
  Hubert Hub Humphrey Hum
I Isabel Isb    
J James Jas Jeffrey Geof
  John Jn Joseph Jos
K Katherine Cath    
L Lancelot Lan Lawrence Laur
  Leonard Leon Lucretia Lucr
  Lydia Lyd    
M Magdalen Mgd Margaret Mgt
  Margery, Marjory Mgy Marmaduke Marm
  Mary My Matthew, Mathias Math
  Maurice Maur Michael Mich
N Nathaniel Nath Nicholas Nic
P Patrick Pat Penelope Pen
  Peter Pet Philadelphia Philad
  Philip Phil Phineas Phin
  Priscilla Prisc Prudence Prud
R Rachel Rach Raymond Ray
  Rebecca Reb Reginald Reg
  Richard Ric Robert Rob
  Roger Rog Roland, Rowland Rol
S Samuel Sam Sarah Sar
  Silvester Silv Simon Sim
  Solomon Sol Stephen, Steven Ste
  Susan, Susanna Sus    
T Theodore Theo Theophilus Theoph
  Thomas Tho Tomsin, Thomasine Tomsin
  Tomothy Tim    
U Ursula Urs    
V Valentine Val Vincent Vinc
W Walter Walt Wilfred Wilf
  William Wm Winifred Win
Z Zachariah Zach    

Maiden names

If you are searching for birth or marriage records for female family members, remember to use their surname at birth. It is a common mistake to search for a female relative using their married name.

For death records, married women will be recorded under their married name so you don’t need to know their maiden name.

Maiden names are also a useful way of verifying your research as it was common for some families to give the mother’s maiden name as the middle name of the eldest child. This may help you reduce the number of potential records that match your search information.

Forename variations

It is not uncommon for people to be known by names other than their given first forename. In many cases people may be known by their middle name or by a shortened version of their forename or ‘nickname’.

For example, someone who was recorded as ‘Margaret Anne’ on their birth certificate could be recorded as ‘Maggie Anne’ on their marriage or death certificates or they could simply be recorded as ‘Anne’ if that was the name they used. It is useful to consider a range of possibilities if you find that searching under the full given name does not provide you with results.


Finding brothers or sisters of the person you are searching for can also prove a valuable tool in verifying whether potential families are your ancestors. Knowledge of the mother’s name is extremely helpful as combining search parameters such as surname, maiden name and expected year range will allow you to identify the siblings born within that range.

Date of registration

In a very small number of cases a registration will be recorded between two dates. This may occur in the case of a death where the exact date of death cannot be determined. The search will be against the first date recorded. For example, if a death was recorded ‘between 20 February 2005 and 22 February 2005’ and you search using a name and the year 2005 or 20 February 2005, the result will be returned. However, if you search using 22 February 2005 the result would not be returned.

If you are aware that the record you are searching for may be recorded as between dates, it may be better to search by the year of registration.

Mistakes in index information

If you discover information about a record that you think is incorrect or if there is a problem with the quality of an image, use 'request amendment' feature to register the issue.

GRONI will investigate and give you feedback on any action that is taken.

More useful links

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