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Local Document Search

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provide a chargeable service to members of the public where we approach the authorities of another country to try and obtain local documents on their behalf.

For example, if you were married in Spain and you have lost your Spanish marriage certificate, or you were born in Thailand and you have lost your Thai birth certificate, you can submit an application either through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London (if resident in the UK) or your nearest British Consulate (if resident abroad) and we will approach the authorities of the country concerned on your behalf in order to try to obtain a copy of the marriage or birth certificate.

The documents that we can try to obtain on an applicant’s behalf are as follows:

  • birth certificates
  • baptismal certificates
  • adoption certificates
  • marriage certificates
  • decree absolutes
  • registration/naturalisation certificates issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only*
  • death certificates
  • certificates of good conduct (a police records check – see separate guidance below)

We also accept requests for the following documents, but only where the matter relates to the death of a British national:

  • autopsy reports
  • medical reports
  • police reports

The fee for this service is currently £121. (Please note that Consular fees are subject to change). This includes any charges made by the local authorities if these amount to less than £5. If the costs are higher than £5, the applicant will be requested to pay the excess charges. Please note that the fee is NOT refunded if the document cannot be traced.

This service is only available to British nationals and in order to proceed with the application you will need to provide a photocopy of your current British passport along with the completed application form. We are unable to accept requests from a third party unless written permission from the party concerned is provided, or, in the case of a death, the application is made by the next of kin. If a third party makes the application they will need to provide a photocopy of the current British passport of the party concerned.

Our processing time here in London is 20 working days. We will send you an acknowledgement letter within 20 working days. We do not have the facility to fast-track applications. Please note we do not have facilities to accept callers into the office as a result ALL applications are dealt with by post.

There is no guarantee that a document can be found and we are entirely dependent on the co-operation of the local authorities. This process can take several months. If you do submit an application, you will receive an acknowledgement letter. After this letter has been received please refrain from contacting us about the progress of an application until a period of no less than 3 months has passed. We cannot speed up the process of an application and we need to allow for the period of 3 months to give the local authorities the opportunity to respond to our request. It can take several months, or longer to trace a document, if at all. If the document cannot be traced, a letter confirming this will be issued.

If you are resident in the UK, please complete the application form below as fully as possible. (See the separate guidance for applying for a certificate of good conduct). If you are resident abroad, you should contact your nearest British Consulate. For a local document search to prove successful, it is necessary to have as much detail as possible about the document you are trying to trace. In some countries, an incomplete application form will be immediately returned to us. We will be unable to help unless there are specific details.

We are unable to obtain documents from certain countries. This is because the local authorities view us as a third party and will only deal with the party concerned. Below is a list of countries where we cannot obtain certificates. This list is subject to change:

  • Australia
  • Bangladesh

To obtain certificates from these countries you will need to contact the local authorities directly. Alternatively it may be worth contacting the relevant Embassy or High Commission of the country where you are trying to obtain the certificate from. They may provide a similar service.

To apply for a certificate of good conduct, please follow the procedure detailed below. All other applications can be made using the application form.

Please note that het fee is £72 for Registration/Naturalisation certificates issued by the FCO. Not £121. If a record is found, we will inform you of this and you will be requested to pay an additional £34 for a letter which confirms the details.


PDF Local Document Search Form  (PDF, 65 KB)

DOC Information on Certificates of Good Conduct  (DOC, 23 KB)

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