The General Register Office maintains a national index of all births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales. The index for each year is split into quarters (March, June, September & December), and is arranged alphabetically by surname. From 1984 to the present, the Civil Registration Indexes are ordered by surname for the whole year. For births and deaths, the Index is organized by the date when the event was registered, not the date that the birth or death actually occured. Marriages are shown in the quarter in which they actually took place. After 1874, births were generally registered within six weeks, according to law, and deaths within eight days.
The GRO Indexes include the surname, first name, registration district and the volume and page of the General Register Office reference. Beginning with the September quarter of 1911, the mother's maiden name was added to the index for births. From 1912, the spouses name is included in the index for marriages. The age at death is included in the GRO Index beginning in 1866, and the date of birth for death registrations was added in 1969.