Genealogy Britain (soc.genealogy.britain FAQs NEW site)

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Adoption - tracing someone else's birth or adoption records

A short article about obtaining other people's birth and adoption records.

The short answer is: you can't.

This may seem dismissive, but it's the simple truth.  Under UK law, no-one but the adoptee can obtain their birth or adoption records. If the adoptee has died without obtaining their records, you are likely to be at a dead end.

In order to obtain the original birth certificate of anyone in the UK, you need to know a lot of information about them.  The full list (extracted from the GRI's online application form) is:

  • Year birth was registered *
  • Surname at birth *     
  • Forename(s) *     
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) *     
  • Place of birth *     
  • Father's surname *     
  • Father's forename(s) *     
  • Mother's maiden surname *     
  • Mother's surname at time of the birth     
  • Mother's forename(s) *

You must be able to fill in all of the asterisked (*) entries.

If you have access to the adoptee's family, and they happen to know all these details (and are willing to release them to you), you can still obtain the original birth certificate, but it is very unusual for this to be the case.