Belgium Civil Registration

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Belgium Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
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Local Research Resources

The FamilySearch moderator for Belgium is Daniel Jones.

How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Collections[edit | edit source]

Index only (partially indexed):

Browsable images, partially indexed (organized by province):

Indexes[edit | edit source]

As a rule of thumb, there should be a handwritten index at the end of each year for each record type. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, a ten-year index (tienjarige tafel / table décennale) was created indexing all births, marriages, and deaths in the municipality in either strict alphabetical order or organized by beginning letter then chronologically. The index provides the year, then either the act number, the date of the event, or the date of the registration of the event. You can then use these indexes to locate the original record. These indexes can be found at the State Archives or FamilySearch.

GeneaKnowHow[edit | edit source]

Geneaknowhow is a site that provides links to various local genealogical sites for Belgium and the Netherlands, including many containing civil registration records.

State Archives and FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

The State [i.e. Federal] Archives of Belgium (Rijksarchief in België/Les Archives de l'Etat en Belgique) has images and some indexes for civil registration records before 1915. Free registration is required to view the records. The site comes in English, French, German or Dutch (see top left corner).

Most of the records are available only as images. They can be browsed here. A few have been indexed. They can be searched here. The images placed online are not necessarily the entirety of the records that are available- the remaining records would need to be viewed in person at the archives. Nonetheless, the vast majority have been placed online.

In most cases, the images online at the website of the State Archives are exact copies of the images that can be found at FamilySearch. Either browse the historical record collections (see above) or use the FamilySearch Catalog. There is a significant number of images not yet placed in the historical record collections, so look in both of these places if you can't find a record.

Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

Records after 1915 cannot be found online at the State Archives. You will need to contact the municipality where the event took place.

State and National Archives of Belgium
Rue de Ruysbroeck 2
1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Telephone: +32 2 513 76 80
Parent organization: State Archives

If needed, you may need to write to an ancestor's town. Below is how to address a letter:

Gemeentebestuur = Municipal administration
De Ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand = Civil State Officer
Gemeentehuis = City Hall
BE - (postal code) (name of municipality)

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In 1795-1796 what is now Belgium was conquered by the Napoleonic regime, who introduced a system of civil registration throughout their territories. The first records were written in French and used the French Revolutionary Calendar. In 1815, Belgium was merged with what is now the Netherlands, creating the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands had also been conquered by Napoleon and from 1811 had a Civil Registration system. Both countries continued with this system. In 1830 Belgium became independent, but continued to keep civil registration records in a manner very similar to the Dutch system.

As of March 31, 2019, access to records in Belgium is unrestricted to for the following record types and years:

  • births: 100 years
  • marriages: 75 years
  • deaths: 50 years

Records later than these time periods are not open to the general public.

Coverage and Compliance[edit | edit source]

"Vital records are on file from 1796, and the current registration is considered to be comprehensive."[1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

The records will be either in Dutch, French, or German, depending on the language locally spoken and the political situation.

Many smaller towns put births, marriages and deaths all together in chronological order, while later records and those from larger towns and cities usually divide the records into births, marriages and deaths separately.

Births[edit | edit source]

A typical Belgium birth record contains:

  • The child's name
  • The birth place and date
  • The names of the parents, their residence, occupations, sometimes ages
  • The name of the informant, their occupation and sometimes age and relationship to the child
A Dutch birth record

Marriages[edit | edit source]

A typical Belgium marriage record contains:

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Place and Date of the marriage
  • Their ages, residences, occupations and birthplaces.
  • The names of their parents, their occupations and sometimes ages or whether still alive
  • Any former spouses
  • Witnesses, and their occupations, and who performed the ceremony

Marriage Supplements may contain

  • Copies of birth or baptism records of the bride and groom
  • Copies of the deaths of the parents of the bride and groom
  • Deaths of or divorces from former spouses
  • Consent from the parents

Marriage proclamations may contain:

  • Names of prospective marriage partners
  • Their residence, age, occupation
  • Their intended date of marriage
  • Their parents
A Dutch marriage record

Deaths[edit | edit source]

A typical Belgium death record contains;

  • Name of deceased,
  • Their death date and place
  • Their age, birthplace, occupation
  • Their current and former spouses
  • Names of their parents, if known
  • Name of the informant and their residence
A Dutch death record

Divorces[edit | edit source]

The divorce will be noted on the original marriage record. There is no separate "Divorce Record'

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Thomas Jay Kemp, “International Vital Records Handbook, 5th Edition,” Genealogical Publishing Co, Inc. Baltimore : 2009.