The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) was first established in 1879 in Jamaica’s old capital – Spanish Town. It was located at the Rodney Memorial Buildings in Spanish Town up to the time of its removal in July 1996. The Rodney Memorial Buildings and Colonnade were erected to commemorate the victory of British Admiral Lord Rodney over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. The cannons flanking the statue of Admiral Rodney were captured from the French ships. Duplicate records are still housed at that location.Compulsory registration began in 1878. Prior to this all registers containing transcripts of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths were kept by the Church of England and these date back to 1664.
The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is the only repository in Jamaica for birth, marriage, still birth and death records. However it does not register divorces.
RGD’s historical relocation took place in July 1996. It began operations from the new location at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine on August 1, 1996 which houses its corporate office. Since then the RGD has expanded to nine regional offices, the most recent being in May Pen; Clarendon. The RGD became an Executive Agency April 1, 1999 under the Public Sector Modernization Project (PSMP). It was among the first four entities in Jamaica and the English speaking Caribbean to be accorded this status. It is the first executive agency to have been given type C status as at April 2007. This means that its operations are not funded from the consolidated fund but from its revenue intake.
An Executive Agency is a government entity which focuses primarily on the delivery of services with a results-oriented approach. Financial and Human Resources Management Authority are delegated to the Chief Executive Officer and he/she is held accountable for achieving stated results economically, and effectively. The CEO is required to meet performance targets which are agreed with the respective portfolio Jamaican Minister. The Jamaican Executive Agency concept was introduced in Britain in the 1980’s under the Thatcher regime. Similar models have been established in New Zealand and Canada
Since then it has been awarded many outstanding accolades for innovations and customer service the most recent being the 2007 Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica award for innovations and unique approaches in problem solving.
On April 1, 2003 the Agency implemented its Application Tracking System used internally by staff members which facilitates easy tracking of customers’ application from submission through production and delivery. This is supported by wireless connectivity which enables Customer Service Representatives access anywhere on the Agency’s grounds. That same year the agency launched its Online Query system which enables RGD customers to ascertain the status of their application via www.rgd.gov.jm. In addition its Online Payment option was introduced on July 01, 2006. Since then thousands of applicants have been satisfied using this medium.
On May 07, 2001 the Agency began printing on Security Paper. This was one of the many initiatives aimed at improving the security of its operations.
The Registrar General’s Department improved its public education efforts by introducing the “RGD and You” radio drama programme in 1997. It seeks to inform the public about the services offered by the Agency and how these may be accessed. Since then over 300 drama series have been written and aired. The programme is broadcasted on 7 radio stations namely: Love 101FM, Hot 102FM, Power 106, KLAS FM89, IRIE FM, RJR94FM, HITZ92Fm, News Talk93FM, ROOTS FM, KOOL 97FM.
January 01, 2007 marked the launch of the Agency’s Free First Birth Certificate Initiative. This initiative is apart of the Agency’s improvement projects aimed at having all children named and fully registered. It has brought the level of civil registration in respect of adding father’s particulars and naming children at birth to a higher level. Additionally, it has eliminated previous delays in birth registration since registration is now conducted at the “bedside” an activity never performed in the country before.