Using registers to build a service
How you can use registers to build better digital services.
Service teams across government usually need access to reliable data to help them build digital services. For example, a team building a service to help users find information about a company might need access to a current list of registered companies.
You can use a register to get direct access to up-to-date and accurate data when you’re building a service.
Most registers are classified as ‘open’. This means the data within them can be accessed, copied, and used freely by anyone. You can choose to use all or some of the data in the register.
You can use the data to create features for forms. For example, the UK government and Parliament petitions service uses the country register to populate a drop-down menu from which a user can select their location.
How registers are created
Government Digital Service (GDS) works with the department or agency that owns the data to create a register.
There are 5 phases involved in creating a register - backlog, discovery, alpha, beta and live. You can start using a register to build services when it’s in the beta phase.
The benefits of registers
Each register is managed by one person from the organisation that’s responsible for the data within it. This person is known as the custodian.
As they’re responsible for looking after the register, you can be confident that the data you’re using to build your service is up to date and accurate.
Using registers to build services is more reliable than using other sources of information. These might be out of date or at risk of being unpublished at any time
Registers you can use
It’s managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and is classified as open. It doesn’t include territories such as Taiwan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
How to use a register
There are 2 ways to use registers. You can either:
- use an application programming interface (API) to automatically pull information from a register into your service
- periodically download the data from the register’s homepage and keep your own copy of it
Help using registers
Contact the registers team at GDS if you need help using a register.