The General Register’s Office (GRO) and Birth Certificates for Passports

The General Register’s Office (GRO) and Birth Certificates for Passports

August 7, 2014 · BY – Stabroek News

The nearly two months of frustration felt by citizens following the June 5 edict by Ministry of Home Affairs, which forced citizens to procure recent birth certificates in order to apply for passports might have come to an end last week, but indications are that the tedium is to be increased at the Central Immigration and Passport Office.

What Mr Rohee had said when the startling order was first made that required persons to have birth certificates issued no longer than six months before the date of applying for a passport was that there were concerns about fraudulent birth certificates being used to obtain travel documents

Just how the application for a new birth certificate was expected to address those concerns was not revealed. But one would have thought that if there was a suspicion that fraud existed the way to deal with it would have been to investigate it, find the person/s involved and prosecute him/her/them.

Instead, the General Register’s Office (GRO) suddenly found itself with a flood of new applications for birth certificates, once again laying bare its deficiencies. Let’s face it, the numerous complaints made by persons applying for birth certificates prior to June 5 made it clear that the GRO was barely managing to deal with the applications it was already receiving. A visit to the GRO would quickly reveal why.

The GRO is located on the top floor of the Guyana Post Office Corporation building in a huddle of hot, cramped offices.

When a birth certificate is being prepared for a newborn, the process is simple enough. The mother or father (if the couple is married) or both parents if unwed approaches the GRO office (there are also offices in Essequibo and Berbice) with the necessary identification and documents. The birth is registered and a certificate issued.

However, when the applicant is an adult, the original registration must be found and this can sometimes pose a challenge if, for instance, the person is not completely sure where in Guyana he/she was born. The process can take weeks or even months to be completed.

While the GRO has a ‘Microfilming Unit’, much of its records remain in paper format and staff must often peruse huge bound volumes to locate the original birth registration. It is all handwritten, of course, and one imagines that a key requisite for employment at the GRO must be excellent calligraphy skills.

The process is tedious, labour-intensive and horribly antiquated. Not that the staff at the GRO are to be blamed for this. They must work with the tools at their disposal, which appear to not have changed much since the 19th century.

As incongruent as it may seem, the GRO has a website,, which must be among the best kept secrets of the Home Affairs Ministry, since persons who have queries still go traipsing up to the GRO. The website appears to be up-to-date and contains a wealth of information as regards all of the processes one needs follow and documentation required when seeking to apply for birth or death certificates or marriage licences. There are even samples of the application forms online. Yet, applicants must still go to the post office and purchase these forms and return them to the post office with the nominal fee. Persons residing overseas can probably obtain the forms at the country’s consulates, but must post same to GRO along with a money order to cover the fee.

One would hope however that the intention is to eventually make the website viable so that applications can be made and paid for online, cutting out some of the paperwork.

One hopes too that attention will be given to bringing the GRO fully into the 21st century. Its records ought to be digitalised and its systems fully computerised to make the processing of a birth certificate that much more efficient. This will bring relief to not just the impatient public, but to the long-suffering GRO staff.

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  • de castro  On August 8, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Ukplc has David ssport’ office that is digitised yet the delays can be frustrating for those who wish to travel ASAP….
    Passport renewals process has now been separated
    from initial passport processing which speeds up the
    whole process of passport issue.
    My passport was renewed in October 2013 and it took
    5 days from application of renewal….it was all done via
    postal services. If it was urgent a temporary one was available
    by a visit to the office in petty france London.
    Passports are but flags of convenience but are
    an essential tool for travellers.
    Most if not all European countries are signatories to
    the SHENGEN agreement on visa requirements for
    its nationals passports travel documents but a formality
    UK is not a signatory why ?
    Go to Google ‘shengen’ agreement if interested….for signatories etc etc its that simple.!
    Comparing david with goliath is not unfair….its not
    It is enlightening !
    My spin

  • de castro  On August 8, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Ukplc passport office is digitised……..correction.

  • CHARLESAX  On August 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

    All applying for a new birth certificate from now on must:

    • de castro  On August 12, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      Question….who foots the bill…
      Pays for…
      1. Blood test
      2. Retina registration
      3. Chip implant

      Surely digitisation would not only speed up process it
      would be more ‘cost effective’
      Just creating a data base of registration of births/marriages/deaths should do the trick…
      With access terminals ..its not rocket science…
      the technology is available today.
      With just 750.000 records to store.

  • malcolm heydorn  On August 14, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Hi folks,

    The solution is a simple one. We already know that digitalization of birth, marriage, death, etc. records is the only way to go. Why take ‘Course Digilalization 101″, to determine that fact? Just how many more years of contemplation must pass, before the appropriate decision makers get off their “asses” and begin the process. Hire and train a number of new staff to undertake the task. Go as far back to records of 1800s through to current times. Divide your new employees into groups (Division of labour). You can bet that if they are smart enough, the process of digitalization would be complete in one to two years, if they don’t spend too much time on “coffee breaks”. In this way, I am sure that I would be able to acquire the few birth certificate requests that I have made without a single response from the GPO in Georgetown; this exercise over a period of three years; I’m still waiting, and remain hopeful; if I don’t cross the “river” before.

    • de castro  On August 15, 2014 at 2:32 am

      Watch out for ‘piranhas’ ‘caiman’ or ‘crocodiles’
      Thats why I talk to trees plants wild animals etc
      then observe their re-action….
      When they answer back I listen…
      Am I in ‘heaven with 100 virgins yet’…ha ha


  • Clyde Duncan  On August 14, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    de Castro: You add and subtract like I do – it is, at least, a million more than the figures you provided. ha! ha! ha! Or, you think they should continue to disregard Heydorn?

  • de castro  On August 15, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Sorry my friend have not been introduced….who is Heydorn ?
    What is Heydorn….
    OK will Google it….
    and respond if necessary or important.

    Its my killer instinct that drives me most times
    but I am a ‘rational animal’ and only kill to eat.

    Salud tinto-verano port favor !

  • Malcolm  On August 16, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Look guys.

    Very few want to follow the “red brick road”; the rest are too blind to see, and can’t find it.

  • Clyde Duncan  On August 16, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    de Castro: You stated “With just 750.000 records to store” – I was correcting you because there is, at least, a million more records that is needed to be included: you and me and Malcolm Heydorn. You responded to his comments above. And he is off along his own fantasy world down the “yellow brick road”.

  • compton de castro  On August 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    750.000 or 7.500.000 its the same database..UK .more like 75 million……yet you get passport
    in 5 to 20 days ….its not rocket science !
    Not sure how many millions work in UK passport
    agency….joking !
    The question still remains
    1. Cost to implement
    2. Time it would take
    3. Who foots the bill….taxpayers ?

    Hey am no ‘whizz kid’ but would recommend a feastability
    study….or visit to UK passport agency to decide which
    path to take….advantage .English spoken language.!!!
    Then maybe USA OZ et al to find out more on way forward.
    One of the few useful legacies of British Empire….common language….Amerikish…and all its other dialects !
    Am sure UKPLC will offer assistance/advice to an ex-colony
    on the way forward for free ! or small fee.
    Don’t ask don’t receive ….its not begging !

    OK think I have opened the can of worms so will ‘zip it’
    hoping that a solution is on its way.
    What about Guyana s high commission in London
    for starters…..surely they may have ideas.!!

    Salud ! Cafine topped with brandy and an Havana cigar please!

  • Savitrie Evans  On June 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Need your help for my birth certificate to register for ID, sent since Feb 8, 2018

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