Details of births, deaths and marriages will be accessible online for the first time as a result of legislative changes introduced by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.
Civil partnership records will also become searchable but information relating to adoptions and stillbirths will be excluded. Ms Burton published the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013 yesterday.
The Bill will enable online searching of indexes of civil registration information through the website. To date, such a search has not been possible because the General Register Office’s indexes are kept in a manual format which is basically unchanged since the 19th century, although computerisation is underway.
The indexes generally include the forename, surname and, in most cases, the date of the life event recorded. The Civil Registration Act 2004 will be amended by the Bill to facilitate online access at www.irishgenealogy.ie, which is hosted by he Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Social Protection said: "This development involves index data only and does not involve access to actual register records."
Currently, indexes may be searched manually and photocopies of specified entries obtained following an application with a prescribed fee to the General Register Office. A research facility in the Irish Life Centre in Dublin is open to the public.
Meanwhile, existing social welfare recipients could become subject to identity checks previously only extended to new applicants. Social welfare payments will be cancelled if recipients refuse a request to attend at a designated office in order to have their photograph and a sample of their signature recorded electronically.
Ms Burton said the provisions would assist her Department to combat fraudulent claims.